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Shumsky v. Eisenstein

Court of Appeals of New York
96 N.Y. 2d 164 (2001)


Facts

In 1993, David Shumsky and Marjorie Scheiber (plaintiffs) hired attorney Paul Eisenstein (defendant) to file a lawsuit against a home inspector, Charles Fleischer, for breach of contract. Eisenstein failed to contact Shumsky and Scheiber to keep them informed about their case. Shumsky and Scheiber filed a disciplinary complaint against Eisenstein in September 1997. During the proceedings, Eisenstein admitted that he failed to file the breach-of-contract action against Fleischer before the statute of limitations expired in March 1994. Eisenstein also stated that he was too embarrassed to admit his failure to Shumsky and Scheiber when they reached out to him and asked for a response in October 1996. In December 1997, Shumsky and Scheiber filed a malpractice suit against Eisenstein. Eisenstein moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the statute of limitations had passed, because the malpractice occurred in March 1994 when Eisenstein failed to file suit against Fleischer. The trial court denied Eisenstein’s motion, finding that the statute of limitations was tolled until at least 1997 because of the continuous-representation doctrine. Eisenstein appealed, and the appellate division reversed the trial court and granted Eisenstein’s motion. The appellate division found that the doctrine of continuous representation did not apply, because the contract action was never filed and Eisenstein did nothing to lull Shumsky and Scheiber into believing that the action was proceeding. Shumsky and Scheiber appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Levine, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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