Justice Angela Iannacci

Great Neck Teachers Association Benefit Trust sought dismissal of the Rosenblums’ complaint in which they sought a declaration that the trust was a “law firm” as defined in the Rules of Professional Conduct. As a “law firm,” the Rosenblums claimed they were entitled to damages based on the trust’s alleged violation of various rules of professional conduct, and sought treble damages under Judiciary Law §487. The trust was a fund set up for the benefit of enrolled teachers and provided legal representation benefits to members for various matters. Teacher Meryl Rosenblum was sued after a construction project on her property resulted in several lawsuits. She sought coverage for her legal services and it was provided for six suits. A dispute arose between the Rosenblums and the law firm assigned to them, Mirkin & Gordon, which was granted a motion to withdraw as counsel. The Rosenblums sought new coverage and the request was denied. The court stated a plain reading of the definition of “firm” under the Rules of Professional Conduct showed that it was a lawyer, not an organization making referrals to a panel of lawyers, that was covered. Hence, the Rules of Professional Conduct did not apply and plaintiffs’ action was dismissed.