decision issued on November 23, 2011, the Supreme Court (New York County)
dismissed Stuart Strumwasser's fraud complaint against attorney Lisa Zeiderman,
who was the divorce lawyer for Mr. Strumwasser's former wife. Mr. Strumwasser's complaint alleged that
defendant Zeiderman and her law firm had been "deceitful" in "represent[ing]
that Snow Beverages [Plaintiff's company] was profitable since, at the time of
the divorce proceedings, it was losing money."
Strumwasser's complaint alleged that he was induced to settle the
divorce action because litigation regarding Snow Beverages' appropriate
valuation would have been costly, complicated, and unaffordable.
dismissing Strumwasser's complaint, the Court ruled that he had not plead an
actionable cause of action for fraud, because in deciding to settle the
underlying divorce action, he had not actually relied upon the allegedly
fraudulent valuation. The court did not
address the issue of whether the appraisal in question was misleading.
decision in Strumwasser v. Zeiderman
offers importance guidance for both New York divorce lawyers and
litigants. First, decision shows that
after a marital settlement agreement is reached or divorce judgment is entered,
a request for a "do-over" of the litigation will generally be denied. Once a divorce litigant signs a settlement
agreement, the overwhelming odds are that the agreement will be enforced. The second lesson is that notwithstanding
such unfavorable odds, many litigants are unable to abide what they consider to
be a profound injustice. This fuels
further motions, court proceedings, and disciplinary actions. In New York, the end of a divorce case may
very well prove to be just the beginning of further litigation.