Diane K. Farrell, Attorney

Diane Farrell Lawyer
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Law Practice

Diane K. Farrell joined Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP in 2000 and was named a member of the firm in 2005. Since joining the firm Mrs. Farrell has distinguished herself as a skilled appellate litigator. Homeowners, school districts and municipalities have benefited from Mrs. Farrell's work as an appellate litigator, primarily arguing and winning appeals on their behalf in the Appellate Term of the Second Judicial Department as well as the Appellate Division of the First and Second Judicial Departments. In addition, Mrs. Farrell has written numerous dispositive motions on behalf of homeowners, school districts and municipalities. Mrs. Farrell's appellate expertise also extends to handling appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Professional Profile

Before joining Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP, Mrs. Farrell worked in private practice as counsel to the profession, where she honed the skills necessary for complex motion practice and appellate litigation. Mrs. Farrell has authored hundreds of motions and appeals in precedent-setting cases involving the legal duty of an attorney to a non-client third party, the definition of "occurrence" in a general liability policy, the presumption that arises from the procedure used by an insurance company to manually insert endorsements intended for policy holders, and the application of the assumption of the risk doctrine in school extracurricular sports settings as well as in premises liability cases. Before entering private practice in 1994, Mrs. Farrell worked for seven years at a private law firm which was general counsel to the Towns of Riverhead and Southampton in Suffolk County, Long Island.

Recognition

In addition to lending her skills to the firm's clients Mrs. Farrell also serves as an officer of the Suffolk Academy of Law, the educational branch of the Suffolk County Bar Association. Mrs. Farrell has taught at the Bar Association's annual Bridge the Gap continuing legal education program for newly admitted attorneys on the topics of Legal Research and Writing and Civil Motion Practice. Mrs. Farrell was the co-moderator and one of the speakers in a three part series presented in the Fall of 2008 by the Suffolk Academy of Law addressing civil motion practice in Supreme Court. Mrs. Farrell also serves as a member of the Academy's Curriculum Committee. On May 5, 2008, the Suffolk County Bar Association recognized Mrs. Farrell with its Award of Recognition for her contribution to the Suffolk Academy of Law's Continuing Legal Education Programs.

Admissions

Mrs. Farrell is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and all the courts of the State of New York. She is a member of the New York State and Suffolk County Bar Associations, the New York State Women's Bar Association and the Suffolk County Women's Bar Association.

Representative Matters

Mrs. Farrell successfully argued in Shapiro v. McNeill, 92 N.Y.2d 91 (1998), that an alleged breach by an attorney of an ethical rule establishing a duty owed to non-client third parties with respect to the handling of escrow funds could not support a cause of action against the attorney in favor of the non-client third party. The Court of Appeals ultimately held that the attorney did not owe a duty to an investor with respect to the mishandling of funds held in the attorney's escrow account by the attorney's client.

Mrs. Farrell recently obtained the reversal of an order denying summary judgment in favor of a school district in an action claiming inadequate supervision by school district personnel during a high school track and field meet. The parents of a tenth grade athlete/participant sued for their son's severe injuries caused by being hit in the face with a twelve pound shot put thrown by another participant, the court concluding that the school district established that it had provided adequate supervision and that the plaintiff athlete had assumed the risk of his injuries. Gerry v. Commack Union Free School District, 52 A.D.3d 467 (2d Dep't. 2008).

Mrs. Farrell moved for summary judgment and then argued the ensuing appeals in two cases where both teenage plaintiffs suffered severe, disabling injuries after diving into a backyard swimming pool. In Testaverde v. Lyman, 17 A.D.3d 574 (2d Dep't. 2005), the plaintiff entered the shallow end of an in-ground swimming pool headfirst from a second story balcony/landing area. Ms. Farrell was successful in obtaining affirmance of the order granting summary judgment in favor of the homeowners, notwithstanding widely conflicting testimony about the extent of underage drinking permitted at the party based on the plaintiff's negligence which was found to be the sole cause of the accident.

In Jahier v. Jahier, 50 A.D.3d 966 (2d Dep't. 2008), Mrs. Farrell successfully argued before a panel of the Second Department that the motion court erred when it denied summary judgment to the grandparent homeowners whose grandson was severely and permanently injured after diving from the diving board Into his grandparents' pool. In reversing the order denying summary judgment, the court held that the plaintiff grandson had assumed the risk of his injury.

In a coverage case with potentially far reaching implications for insurance companies on the issue of the reliability of its practices and procedures for the manual insertion of exclusion endorsements intended for policyholders, Mrs. Farrell obtained reversal of an order denying State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. summary judgment and granting the insured summary judgment in a declaratory judgment action. The Appellate Division agreed that State Farm's procedures were geared to ensure the likelihood that the endorsements were always included with the insurance renewals before they were mailed. Schmiemann v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 13 A.D.3d 514 (2d Dep't. 2004).

Other notable municipal law appeals litigated by Mrs. Farrell include Feitner v. Town of Smithtown, 23 A.D.3d 431 (2d Dep't. 2005), W Rest, Inc. v. Wilson, 38 A.D.3d 762 (2d Dep't. 2007) and Mahler v. Inc. Village of Port Jefferson, 18 A.D.3d 450 (2d Dep’t. 2005).

Position Organization Location Duration
School Degree Major Graduation
St. John's University School of LawJ.D. Law SchoolN/A  
St. John's University B.A.
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Diane K. Farrell
50 Route 111
Suite 314
Smithtown, NY 11787
40.861506,-73.209306

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50 Route 111
Suite 314
Smithtown, NY 11787


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