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ARTICLE ID 192633

$________ FROM DEFENDANT ATTORNEY PLUS FAVORABLE MODIFICATION OF MORTGAGE FROM CO-DEFENDANT BANKING INSTITUTION Legal Malpractice – Failure to advise plaintiff purchasers that property within ________ year flood plain despite written advisements from real estate seller's attorney – Loss of personal property and reduced value of home.

Bergen County, NJ

The plaintiff real estate purchasers contended the defendant, their attorney in the underlying transaction, negligently failed to communicate to them that he had been advised by the seller’s attorney that the property was in a ________ year flood plain and that flood insurance was required. The plaintiffs maintained that had they been advised, they would not have purchased the property. The plaintiffs would have testified that because they knew others who had gone through very significant disruptions in their lives that were in addition to the economic losses incurred, they would not have placed themselves at similar risk and would not have continued with the closing. Significantly, the plaintiffs would have pointed out that in a prior recent transaction for a different property, in which they were represented by a different attorney, they had exercised the provision in the contract that enabled them to terminate the contract because of the same reason. The plaintiff had also contended that the co-defendant bank had failed to properly determine the flood status of the real property. The bank stressed that under federal statute, it was immune for damages in flood cases for a negligence claim.

The evidence reflected that the home suffered extensive flood damage in Hurricane Irene and the plaintiffs could not reside in the home for an extended period. The mortgage was not paid and a foreclosure action had been commenced by the bank. The plaintiff negotiated a favorable mortgage modification with the bank sometime before the action against the attorney resolved.

The defendant attorney contended that he acted reasonably in relying upon the bank’s determination that the property was not in a flood plain, despite the fact that a survey subsequently showed that it was in a flood plain and that he had the communication from plaintiffs’ prior attorney. The plaintiff would have countered that in view of the written advisements by the seller’s attorney, the contentions of the defendant attorney should be rejected.

The plaintiff made a claim for the reduced value of the real estate and the loss of personal property. The plaintiff’s claim, prior to the modification of the mortgage with the co-defendant bank, approximated $________.****DATE?*****The case against the defendant attorney settled during discovery and before the plaintiff obtained a report from a legal malpractice expert, who had issued an Affidavit of Merit, for $________.

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