MOSHER v. BAINES

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

John MOSHER, Appellant, v. Cyril BAINES, etc., et al., Respondents.

Decided: October 26, 1998

Before PIZZUTO, J.P., and JOY, FLORIO and LUCIANO, JJ. Weiser & Associates, New York City (Martin J. Weiser, of counsel), for appellant. Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, New York City (Stephen M. Marcellino and Sari B. Canell, of counsel), for respondents Cyril Baines, and Shapiro, Baines, Saasto & Shainwald. Deegan & Deegan, LLP, Hempstead (James V. Deegan and Eugene S.R. Pagano, of counsel), for respondent Daniel M. Shapiro.

In an action to recover damages for legal malpractice, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Garson, J.), dated May 12, 1997, which granted the defendants' respective motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, with one bill of costs payable by the respondents appearing separately and filing separate briefs, the motions are denied, and the complaint is reinstated.

 Contrary to the defendants' contentions, they may not avoid the plaintiff's claims of legal malpractice pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata.  “Res judicata requires that when a cause of action has been adjudicated on the merits, the parties to the action are bound by the judgment and may not relitigate the same cause of action between themselves” (10 Weinstein-Korn-Miller, N.Y. Civ. Prac. ¶ 5011.24;  see, Sherman v. Ansell, 207 A.D.2d 537, 616 N.Y.S.2d 90).   Since the defendant lawyers were not parties to the underlying Federal civil rights litigation, they may not invoke the doctrine of res judicata as a defense to malpractice (see, 2 Mallen & Smith, Legal Malpractice [4th ed.] § 20.12;  cf., Cornwall Warehousing, Inc. v. Town of New Windsor, 238 A.D.2d 370, 656 N.Y.S.2d 329).

 In addition, the defendants have not demonstrated that the plaintiff's legal malpractice claims are barred by collateral estoppel (see, Cannistra v. McCullough, Goldberger & Staudt, 248 A.D.2d 577, 669 N.Y.S.2d 913).   The issues to be litigated in the instant malpractice action are not identical to those determined in the prior Federal civil rights action (see, Weiss v. Manfredi, 83 N.Y.2d 974, 616 N.Y.S.2d 325, 639 N.E.2d 1122;  Petersen v. Lysaght, Lysaght & Kramer, P.C., 250 A.D.2d 581, 672 N.Y.S.2d 398;  Talcove v. Buckeye Pipe Line Co., 247 A.D.2d 464, 668 N.Y.S.2d 666;  Katash v. Richard Kranis, P.C., 229 A.D.2d 305, 644 N.Y.S.2d 276;  Greene v. Payne, Wood & Littlejohn, 213 A.D.2d 698, 624 N.Y.S.2d 629;  Rosenkrantz v. Erdheim, 177 A.D.2d 389, 576 N.Y.S.2d 132;  Schulkin v. Stern, 145 A.D.2d 326, 534 N.Y.S.2d 990).

The defendants' remaining contentions are without merit.

MEMORANDUM BY THE COURT.

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