The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determent defendant attorneys’ motion for summary judgment in this legal malpractice action should have been granted. Plaintiff was allegedly struck by a garbage truck and seriously injured. Plaintiff could not describe the truck and plaintiff’s case depended upon the testimony of an eyewitness, Arenas. Arenas’s descriptions of the truck were not consistent and there was a defense verdict. Plaintiff alleged defendant attorneys failed to properly prepare Arenas for his deposition, which resulted in Arenas’s inconsistent testimony at trial:
“[M]ere speculation of a loss resulting from an attorney’s alleged omissions . . . is insufficient to sustain a claim” for legal malpractice” … . Plaintiff’s assertion that, had Arenas been better prepared, the jury would have returned a favorable verdict is pure speculation … . Defendants met their burden of showing that plaintiff cannot establish causation, in that plaintiff cannot prove that it would have prevailed in the underlying action “but for” defendant’s alleged negligence in preparing Arenas for his deposition … .
Although there are issues of fact regarding whether defendants may have departed from the applicable standard of care, any claim that the jury would have reached a different result in the personal injury action is wholly speculative. First, it is wholly speculative that Arenas would have testified to a different description of the truck either at his deposition or at trial had he been shown the investigative reports. Although the investigative reports were read to him line by line at his deposition, his description of the truck did not change and he adhered to his belief, that the front of the truck he saw strike and run over plaintiff was bullnosed. Even if Arenas’s statement in support of plaintiff’s motion in this case is accurate, that he would have testified differently had he been differently prepared, this, at best, creates an issue of fact about what he would have said at trial. It does not eliminate speculation about what the jury’s verdict would have been, given that Arenas’s description of the truck otherwise lacked detail, and the absence of any additional proof identifying defendants’ truck and driver as being involved in underlying accident. Caso v Miranda Sambursky Slone Sklarin Verveniotis LLP, 2020 NY Slip Op 01384, First Dept 2-27-20