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$1.25 Million Malpractice Award Against Immigration Attorney Upheld

New York immigration attorney Alfred Placeres committed legal malpractice, the New York Court of Appeals, First Department, said in a December 23, 2014 decision, for failure to meet a filing deadline, causing his client Jose Borges to spend additional time in immigration detention. Borges testified that he remained in detention 14 months because Placeres had advised him to not appear in Immigration Court as a delaying tactic.

Borges then filed a civil legal malpractice claim, and after a jury trial in 2012, won a judgment against his former attorney. According to the Appellate Court, "plaintiff's claim(ed) (that defendant's actions) resulted in a deportation order and the failure to vacate it due to bad advice." 

The court also noted that the defendant had even been tardy in filing documents to defend himself: "Defendant's motions to amend his answer to assert a statute of limitations defense and for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, made on the eve of trial eight years after the answer was served, were properly denied for lack of any excuse for the delay."

The court concluded: "Defendant's argument that the damages awarded for the harm resulting from plaintiff's 14 months in detention constitute non-pecuniary damages that are not recoverable in a legal malpractice action is unpreserved." As a result of these failures, the New York Appellate Court upheld the malpractice award of $1.25 million. See: Borges v. Placeres, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, 2014 NY app.  Div. LEXIS 8822, December 24, 2014.

Additional source: New York Law Journal

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Related legal case

Borges v. Placeres