Leon v. Martinez

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtLEVINE; KAYE
Citation84 N.Y.2d 83,614 N.Y.S.2d 972,638 N.E.2d 511
Decision Date07 July 1994
Parties, 638 N.E.2d 511 Xavier LEON et al., Respondents, v. Wilfredo MARTINEZ, Defendant, and Pearlman, Apat & Futterman et al., Appellants.

Page 972

614 N.Y.S.2d 972
84 N.Y.2d 83, 638 N.E.2d 511
Xavier LEON et al., Respondents,
v.
Wilfredo MARTINEZ, Defendant,
and
Pearlman, Apat & Futterman et al., Appellants.
Court of Appeals of New York.
July 7, 1994.

Page 973

[84 N.Y.2d 85] [638 N.E.2d 512] Rivkin, Radler & Kremer, Uniondale (Evan H. Krinick and John M. Denby, of counsel), for appellants.

Razis & Ross, P.C., Long Island City (George J. Razis and Avery Friedman, of counsel), for respondents.

[84 N.Y.2d 86] OPINION OF THE COURT

LEVINE, Judge.

Plaintiffs brought this action against defendant Wilfredo Martinez and his attorneys to enforce plaintiffs' claim of entitlement to a portion of the proceeds of the settlement of a personal injury action by Martinez against the Hertz Corporation. The complaint alleges that, before the settlement of Martinez v. Hertz Corp., at the request of plaintiffs and in consideration for plaintiffs' care of Martinez following his accident, defendant attorney Ira Futterman drafted an agreement between plaintiffs and Martinez which Martinez executed. The agreement, annexed to the complaint, provided as follows:

"(1) I give to Gina Leon 5% of any recovery that I may get after deducting all disbursements, expenses and attorney's fees from the case of WILFREDO MARTINEZ v. HERTZ CORPORATION.

[84 N.Y.2d 87] "(2) I give to Xavier Leon 5% of any recovery that I may get after deducting all disbursements, expenses and attorney's fees from the case of WILFREDO MARTINEZ v. HERTZ CORPORATION.

"(3) I give to Maria Macia 15% of any recovery that I may get after deducting all disbursements, expenses and attorney's fees from the case of WILFREDO MARTINEZ v. HERTZ CORPORATION."

Plaintiffs alleged that the agreement constituted a "lien" upon the proceeds of the settlement. The complaint further alleged that, contrary to the agreement, when the personal injury action was settled, defendant Futterman disbursed the entire net proceeds to Martinez and in doing so had a conflict of interest and was guilty of professional misconduct.

Defendants Futterman and the law firm Pearlman, Apat & Futterman moved to dismiss the complaint as against them pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(1) as barred by documentary evidence (i.e., the agreement between plaintiffs and Martinez) and CPLR 3211(a)(7) for failure to state a cause of action. Plaintiffs submitted an affidavit in opposition describing in greater detail the services rendered by them to Martinez, the circumstances

Page 974

[638 N.E.2d 513] under which Futterman was requested to prepare the agreement, and their ongoing professional relationship with Futterman and his firm.

Supreme Court granted defendants' motion under CPLR 3211(a)(1), concluding that Futterman's preparation of the agreement did not create liability on the part of him and his law firm for Martinez's failure to honor it. Plaintiffs appealed and the Appellate Division reversed, with one Justice dissenting (193 A.D.2d 788, 598 N.Y.S.2d 274). The Court held that where attorneys have notice of an assignment of a portion of their client's recovery, they may be held liable to the assignees for paying out that recovery in disregard of the assignment. The Appellate Division granted the defendants' motion for leave to appeal to this Court and certified the following question: "Was the decision and order of this court dated May 24, 1993, properly made?" We now affirm.

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211, the pleading is to be afforded a liberal construction (see, CPLR 3026). We accept the facts as alleged in the complaint as true, accord plaintiffs the benefit of every possible favorable inference, and determine only whether the facts as alleged fit [84 N.Y.2d 88] within any cognizable legal theory (Morone v. Morone, 50 N.Y.2d 481, 484, 429 N.Y.S.2d 592, 413 N.E.2d 1154; Rovello v. Orofino Realty Co., 40 N.Y.2d 633, 634, 389 N.Y.S.2d 314, 357 N.E.2d 970). Under CPLR 3211(a)(1), a dismissal is warranted only if the documentary evidence submitted conclusively establishes a defense to the asserted claims as a matter of law (see, e.g., Heaney v. Purdy, 29 N.Y.2d 157, 324 N.Y.S.2d 47, 272 N.E.2d 550). In assessing a motion under CPLR 3211(a)(7), however, a court...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3910 practice notes
  • Moore v. Weinberg, No. 4209.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 20 d2 Fevereiro d2 2007
    ...the assignor to the assignee. Donahue v. Multimedia, Inc., 362 S.C. 331, 338, 608 S.E.2d 162, 165 (Ct.App.2005) (citing Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511 (1994)). "An assignment of a right is a manifestation of the assignor's intention to transfer it by virtue......
  • Karaha Bodas Co. v. Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak, Docket No. 02-7513(L).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 10 d2 Dezembro d2 2002
    ...Inc. v. Hewlett Packard Co., 970 F.Supp. 212, 217 (S.D.N.Y.1997) (citation and internal punctuation omitted); accord Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 88 n. 1, 638 N.E.2d 511, 513 n. 1, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 974 n. 1 (1994) ("An assignment may properly relate to a future ... right which is adequa......
  • Landon v. Kroll Lab. Specialists, Inc.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • 22 d2 Novembro d2 2011
    ...Funding Partners, L.P. v. State St. Bank & Trust Co., 5 N.Y.3d 582, 591, 808 N.Y.S.2d 573, 842 N.E.2d 471, quoting Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 87–88, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511). “Whether a plaintiff can ultimately establish its allegations is not part of the calculus in determini......
  • Partners v. Ajw Qualified Partners Llc
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • 12 d2 Abril d2 2011
    ...if the documentary evidence submitted conclusively establishes a defense to the asserted claims as a matter of law” ( Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 88, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511; see Goshen v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of N.Y., 98 N.Y.2d 314, 326, 746 N.Y.S.2d 858, 774 N.E.2d 1190). Put......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3873 cases
  • Moore v. Weinberg, No. 4209.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 20 d2 Fevereiro d2 2007
    ...the assignor to the assignee. Donahue v. Multimedia, Inc., 362 S.C. 331, 338, 608 S.E.2d 162, 165 (Ct.App.2005) (citing Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511 (1994)). "An assignment of a right is a manifestation of the assignor's intention to transfer it by virtue......
  • Karaha Bodas Co. v. Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak, Docket No. 02-7513(L).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 10 d2 Dezembro d2 2002
    ...Inc. v. Hewlett Packard Co., 970 F.Supp. 212, 217 (S.D.N.Y.1997) (citation and internal punctuation omitted); accord Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 88 n. 1, 638 N.E.2d 511, 513 n. 1, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 974 n. 1 (1994) ("An assignment may properly relate to a future ... right which is adequa......
  • Landon v. Kroll Lab. Specialists, Inc.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • 22 d2 Novembro d2 2011
    ...Funding Partners, L.P. v. State St. Bank & Trust Co., 5 N.Y.3d 582, 591, 808 N.Y.S.2d 573, 842 N.E.2d 471, quoting Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 87–88, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511). “Whether a plaintiff can ultimately establish its allegations is not part of the calculus in determini......
  • Partners v. Ajw Qualified Partners Llc
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • 12 d2 Abril d2 2011
    ...if the documentary evidence submitted conclusively establishes a defense to the asserted claims as a matter of law” ( Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 88, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511; see Goshen v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of N.Y., 98 N.Y.2d 314, 326, 746 N.Y.S.2d 858, 774 N.E.2d 1190). Put......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT