180 Ludlow Development LLC v. Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP

Frank E. Chaney, of counsel at Rosenberg & Estis, served as an expert witness for the defendant client, Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP, before justice Debra A. James in Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County. Olshan’s client, 180 Ludlow Development LLC, brought suit against Olshan, alleging legal malpractice by the firm in the drafting of a Zoning Lot Development Agreement. The matter dates to 2006, when Ludlow hired Olshan to represent the company on the acquisition of air rights over a parcel of land that adjoined 180 Ludlow Street, which Ludlow owned and was developing as a hotel. Ludlow alleged that Olshan committed legal malpractice based on its alleged negligence in drafting the ZLDA to provide Ludlow the right to cantilever the hotel over the adjoining property. At issue was whether the ZLDA should also have provided Ludlow the right to unilaterally, without the adjoining owner’s consent, make alterations to the adjoining owner’s building to cure a violation created during Ludlow’s construction of the cantilever. Chaney’s expert testimony — in which he stated that Olshan did not violate its duty of care as attorneys — was critical to Olshan’s defense as the court found that “expert testimony is necessary to judge Olshan’s professional service.” The case hinged on dueling experts with the court repeatedly crediting Chaney’s testimony and discrediting that of the plaintiff’s expert. Chaney, who practices in Rosenberg & Estis‘ Zoning Department, has deep experience in zoning law, as acknowledged by the court, while the plaintiff’s expert had a less experienced understanding of the rules. Justice James granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case with costs and disbursement to the defendant. “Here, the undisputed facts show that Olshan exercised the applicable standard of care of an attorney drafting a ZLDA, and there is no evidence to support a finding that any alleged negligence in negotiating or drafting proximately caused Ludlow’s injuries,” Justice James stated.

(Rosenberg & Estis, P.C. team: Frank E. Chaney)