The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendants-attorneys’ motion to dismiss the legal malpractice complaint based upon documentary evidence should have been granted. The plaintiffs-insurers’ alleged the defendants negligently advised them to disclaim insurance coverage:
… [P]laintiffs allege that they sustained damages when they relied on defendants’ negligent advice that they could disclaim coverage of their insured in an underlying malpractice action. In support of their motion to dismiss, defendants properly relied on documentary evidence, including the challenged disclaimer letter and the relevant policy, since their authenticity is undisputed and their contents are “essentially undeniable” ( … CPLR 3211[a]). The disclaimer letter sets forth an analysis of plaintiffs’ right to refuse coverage to their insured on two independent bases. Plaintiffs’ failure to allege with specificity or argue that one of the two bases for defendants’ advice was incorrect, requires dismissal of this legal malpractice action.
Aside from this, defendants’ alleged malpractice concerning other issues is subject to the attorney-judgment rule … . Since plaintiffs failed to show that the issues were elementary or subject to settled authority, defendants could not be liable for malpractice based on their prediction of how a court would interpret the policy … .
Further, plaintiffs’ failure to explain how it was that any alleged error by defendants prejudiced their defense in the subsequent coverage action also mandates dismissal of the malpractice claim … . Lloyd’s Syndicate 2987 v Furman Kornfeld & Brennan, LLP, 2020 NY Slip Op 02365, First Dept 4-23-20