Zuiewski v. Vaccaro
Settlement of a malpractice case may not prevent the possibility of a causal link between an attorney's alleged negligence and a client's loss from the settlement. The plaintiff, Jeffrey Zuiewski, alleged the following. In 2001, Zuiewski became disabled, as a result of back injuries and complications from surgery and obtained disability payments from Metropolitan Life. MetLife stopped paying benefits in 2003, and Paul Ganim, Esq. wrote to MetLife. MetLife affirmed its decision to deny. (If Zuiewski had qualified, Zuiewski allegedly would have received $212,079.) Allegedly, Ganim obtained evidence after the 180-day appeals period expired on March 28, 2004. In July, Ganim filed suit against MetLife. Allegedly, Ganim filed a voluntary dismissal of Zuiewski's claims and informed Zuiewski he was going to transfer his case to Attorney Noah Schlafer. Schlafer sued, claiming wrongful denial of long-term disability. Metlife settled for a nominal sum. In or about March 2008, Zuiewski requested that Enrico Vaccaro, Esq., represent him in a legal-malpractice claim against Paul Ganim. In June or July, Vaccaro allegedly informed Zuiewski he was busy working for other clients. In August or September, Zuiewski requested the return of his file, which Vaccaro transferred in October. Zuiewski filed a complaint against Ganim. Ganim moved for judgment based on the statute of limitations. Zuiewski settled his complaint against Ganim for a nominal sum and sued Vaccaro, alleging legal malpractice. Vaccaro moved for summary judgment and argued Zuiewski's claims were conjectural. "In legal malpractice actions, the plaintiff typically proves that the defendant attorney's professional negligence caused injury to the plaintiff by presenting evidence of what would have happened in the underlying action had the defendant not been negligent," pursuant to the Connecticut Supreme Court's 2005 decision, Margolin v. Kleban & Samor. There were genuine issues of material fact with respect to whether Zuiewski was wrongly denied benefits, because of Ganim's untimely submission, and whether Zuiewski suffered a legally compensable injury, because Vaccaro did not file a legal-malpractice suit timely, before the statute of limitations expired in September 2008. Damages are reasonably ascertainable and are not too conjectural. The court denied Vaccaro's motion for summary judgment.