From This Week’s “Latest Posts” Section (Below):

In a Custody Case, What Are the Religion-Based Issues Family Court Can  Consider in a “Best Interests of a Child” Analysis?

Matter of Joseph XX. v Jah-Rai YY., 2024 NY Slip Op 00950, Third Dept 2-22-24

Should a Minor Child’s Sex-Designation and Name Change Court Records Be Permanently Sealed?

Matter of Cody VV. (Brandi VV.), 2024 NY Slip Op 00961, Third Dept 2-22-24

Is Riding a Bicycle on a Public Bicycle and Pedestrian Path Subject to the Assumption-of-the-Risk Doctrine?

Alfieri v State of New York, 2024 NY Slip Op 00886, Second Dept 2-21-24

When Are “Lost Profits” Recoverable as Consequential Damages in a Sale of Goods Under the UCC?

Island Ordnance Sys., LLC v Amerimex, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00897, Second Dept 2-21-24

NEW YORK STATE APPELLATE DECISIONS IN DIGEST

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How To Use the New York Appellate Digest

Note: Before Relying On Any Decision Summarized on this Site, Make Sure It Remains Good Law Using the Method You Trust for that Purpose. See the Discussion Under “Shepardize” Below.

Note: The Easiest Way to Save a Search Result Is to Highlight It and then Copy and Paste into a Word Document. All the Links Remain Functional in the Word Document.

The content of the smaller categories can serve as checklists for the preparation of a case. If you are bringing a Medical Malpractice case, for example, why not browse through all of the decision-summaries in that category before you interview your client? In a few minutes you can survey all the Medical Malpractice issues which have made it to the appellate courts since 2013. You may be able to avoid mistakes made by others. If you are bringing a construction-accident case, browse through the Labor Law-Construction Law category. The hidden pitfalls in that area of the law will surprise you. There are many smaller categories which can be used to jump-start the initial preparation of a case.

There are only three categories which are too large to browse: Negligence, Civil Procedure and Criminal Law. By getting comfortable with the Search function, even these larger categories can serve as “checklists” for case preparation.

Note: Before Relying On Any Decision Summarized on this Site, Make Sure It Remains Good Law Using the Method You Trust for that Purpose. See the Discussion Under “Shepardize” Below.

Note: The Easiest Way to Save a Search Result Is to Highlight It and then Copy and Paste into a Word Document. All the Links Remain Functional in the Word Document.

The summaries of the decisions released the week before are here on the Home Page, organized by release date (not legal category) with the most recent releases first. For readers who like to browse through all of last week’s decision-summaries in one place, the “Latest Posts” section (below) provides that service.

The Search Function allows the reader to zero in on the most recent decision-summaries in specific categories. Click on the “All Categories” line in the Search Panel (at the Top of the “Latest Posts” Section on the Home Page and on the right side all other website pages) to reveal the drop-down menu. Choose a category from the drop-down menu and click on “Search.” All the decision-summaries in that category will come up (going back to January 1, 2013), the most recent first.

Similarly, just clicking on any category in the Footer at the bottom of every page will bring up the all the decision-summaries in that category, the most recent first (an alternative to using the Search Panel for this purpose).

For the latest decision-summaries in all categories from a specific court, choose “All Categories” in the first line of the search panel, choose the court from the menu, and click on “Search.” To select multiple courts, hold the “Ctrl” key down and click on the courts. To de-select a selected court, hold the “Ctrl” key down and click on it.

For the latest decision-summaries in a specific legal category and from a specific court choose a category from the drop-down menu in the Search Panel, choose the court from the menu, and click on “Search.” To select multiple courts, hold the “Ctrl” key down and click on the courts. To de-select a selected court, hold the “Ctrl” key down and click on it.

Click on “Just Released” for more instructions on how to search for the most recent decisions.

Note: Before Relying On Any Decision Summarized on this Site, Make Sure It Remains Good Law Using the Method You Trust for that Purpose. See the Discussion Under “Shepardize” Below.

Note: The Easiest Way to Save a Search Result Is to Highlight It and then Copy and Paste into a Word Document. All the Links Remain Functional in the Word Document.

The search function can be used to get caught up on what all the courts have ruled on so far this year, or what any specific court has ruled on so far this year, or what any court has ruled on during any time period, going back weeks, months or years. Just add the “start” and “end” dates to your searches (the third and fourth lines in the search panel on the right side of the page).

In the posts “Just Released,” “Streamlined Research” and “Update Service,” how to do (1) searches in all legal categories, (2) searches in specific categories, (3) searches using keywords and phrases, and (4) searches confined to specific courts, is explained in some detail. Use the “start” and “end” date criteria to confine any of those types of searches to a specific time period.

If, for example, you want to see what the Fourth Department has addressed in the category “Criminal Law” in 2022, click on “Criminal Law” in the drop-down menu in the Search Panel (revealed when you click on “All Categories”), choose January 1, 2022, as the start date, choose today as the end date, click on “Fourth Department” in the Search Panel menu and click on “Search.”

If you want to see what the Court of Appeals ruled on last year in all categories, leave “All Categories” in the top line of the search panel, choose January 1, 2022, for the start date and today for the end date, click on “Court of Appeals” in the search panel menu and click on “Search.”

Any type of search can be confined to any specific time period between January 1, 2013, and today.

For more on this “personalized update service” capability, click on “Update Service.”

Note: Before Relying On Any Decision Summarized on this Site, Make Sure It Remains Good Law Using the Method You Trust for that Purpose. See the Discussion Under “Shepardize” Below.

Note: The Easiest Way to Save a Search Result Is to Highlight It and then Copy and Paste into a Word Document. All the Links Remain Functional in the Word Document.

The New York Appellate Division database is comprised of over 14,000 summaries of selected decisions released since January, 2013, by all four departments of the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals. All areas of the law addressed by the courts are covered, from Administrative Law to Zoning. See the drop-down menu in the Search Panel at the top of the “Latest Posts” section on the Home Page and on the right side of every other website page (revealed by clicking on “All Categories”) or the Footer on every page for the complete list of covered legal categories.

The database is unique among case-law databases because the decisions have already been selected for their instructive value, studied and analyzed. The summaries of the decisions that make up this database have already been organized and placed in all relevant legal categories. The issues in each decision have already been identified and described in the headings of the summaries. The most instructive portions of the decisions have already been located and are directly quoted in the summaries. Much of the work that ordinarily goes into case-law research has been done before you click on the “Search” button.

Because all the decision-summaries have been organized by linking each one to all relevant legal categories, searches are focused, fast and efficient. Choosing the right category and/or searching for a single strong keyword or a strong phrase (in the “Search by Keywords” line of the search panel) is often enough to bring up most or all of the summaries on that specific topic.

The time it takes to sort through search results, eliminate the irrelevant, and collect the relevant, is drastically reduced because the concise summary-headings describe the issues addressed by each decision.

For instructions on how to use the site as an up-to-date research tool click on “Just Released,” “Update Service,” and “Streamlined Research.”

Note: Before Relying On Any Decision Summarized on this Site, Make Sure It Remains Good Law Using the Method You Trust for that Purpose. See the Discussion Under “Shepardize” Below.

Note: The Easiest Way to Save a Search Result Is to Highlight It and then Copy and Paste into a Word Document. All the Links Remain Functional in the Word Document.

Since January, 2013, without interruption, I have been sifting through all the Appellate Division and Court of Appeals decisions released each week, choosing the most instructive for inclusion in the New York Appellate Digest database.

With only two narrow exceptions (attorney-grievance decisions, and no-fault serious-injury decisions) every area of the law addressed by our appellate courts over the past ten years or so is covered in the New York Appellate Digest database (see the footer for the list of covered categories). It is now rare for a completely new or novel legal issue to come up, an indication the 14,000 decision-summaries present a fairly complete picture of the law of New York.

The key to finding what you are looking for in the database is choosing the most relevant legal categories and the best keywords or phrases for database searches. For the basics on searches click on “Just Released,”  “Update Service,” and “Streamlined Research.”

The pages linked to below are offered to provide some idea of the depth of coverage in the database of specific areas of the law and may therefore help in choosing the best categories and keywords for a database search.

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW;

APPEALS;

ARBITRATION;

ATTORNEYS;

BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS;

CIVIL PROCEDURE;

CIVIL RIGHTS LAW;

CONSUMER LAW;

CONTRACT LAW;

CRIMINAL LAW;

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DEFAMATION;

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EMPLOYMENT LAW;

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FORECLOSURE;

FRAUD;

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW (FOIL);

INSURANCE LAW;

INTENTIONAL TORTS;

LANDLORD-TENANT;

MENTAL HYGIENE LAW;

MUNICIPAL LAW;

PERSONAL INJURY;

PRODUCTS LIABILITY;

REAL PROPERTY;

TAX LAW;

TRUSTS AND ESTATES;

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE;

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION;

ZONING AND LAND USE.

Note: The Easiest Way to Save a Search Result Is to Highlight It and then Copy and Paste into a Word Document. All the Links Remain Functional in the Word Document.

When a decision is reversed, modified, remitted, reargued, overruled, etc., the summary of any related decision already in the New York Appellate Digest database is NOT flagged.

I have made an effort to summarize every substantive Court of Appeals decision released since January 2013, and every reversal by the Court of Appeals, even if the reversal-decision is not substantive. So a “post-January, 2013” reversal of an Appellate Division decision should be in the “Court of Appeals” portion of the New York Appellate Digest database. Bear in mind, however, a single Court of Appeals decision may reverse more than one lower-court decision. Therefore a Court of Appeals citation in the New York Appellate Digest database may not include all parties affected by a reversal.

The database may not include every reversal by the Court of Appeals (I don’t think I missed any, but …). In addition, a reversal is not the only way a decision can be rendered obsolete. Court of Appeals and Appellate Division decisions may be overruled by the United States Supreme Court (i.e., the Supreme Court’s warrant-requirement for cell-phone-location records). Decisions at both the Court of Appeals and Appellate Division levels sometimes indicate prior contrary rulings should not be followed. One Appellate Division department may expressly disagree with rulings on the same issue made in other departments. Decisions may subsequently be reargued, or remitted before or after appeal, leading to a different result. It is certainly possible that not every decision stemming from the same proceeding has been included in the New York Appellate Digest database.

Therefore, before relying on any decision summarized here, make sure it is good law using the method you trust for that purpose.

Latest Posts

Posted Below Are Summaries of Selected Decisions Released February 19 – 23, 2024, by the First, Second and Third Departments, as Well as the Court of Appeals, Organized by Date Only (Not by Legal Category or Court).

Use the Search Panel (Immediately Below) to Pull Up the Latest Posts in a Specific Legal Category. Click on “All Categories,” Pick the Category from the Drop-Down Menu, and Click on “Search.” A Category Search Brings Up All the Posts in the Database Going Back to January 2013, Most Recent Posts First.

The Latest Posts in a Specific Legal Category Can Also Be Accessed Simply by Clicking on the Category in the Footer at the Bottom of All of the Website Pages.

For the Latest Posts from a Specific Court, Most Recent First, Use the Search Panel—Either Choose “All Categories” or a Specific Category in the Drop-Down Menu (Revealed by Clicking on “All Categories” at the Top of the Search Panel) and Choose the Desired Court by Clicking On It in the Menu, then Click on “Search”—To Choose Multiple Courts, Hold Down the “Ctrl” Key and Click on Them—To De-Select a Selected Court, Hold Down the “Ctrl” Key and Click on It.

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Use the Search Panel to Access the More that 16,000 Decision-Summaries in the Database. Keyword Searches Are Easy Because the Decision-Summaries Are Organized by Legal Category. So, For Example, If  You Click on “Negligence” and Use “Fall” as a Keyword, Only Slip and Fall Decision-Summaries Will Come Up. Or If You Click on “Labor Law-Construction Law” and Use “Ladder” as a Keyword, Only Ladder-Fall Decision-Summaries Will Come Up.

Before Relying On Any Decision Summarized on this Site, Make Sure It Remains Good Law Using the Method You Trust for that Purpose. See the Discussion Under “Shepardize” Above in the “How to Use the New York Appellate Digest” section.

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The Third Department, reversing (modifying) Family Court, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Reynolds Fitzgerald, over a partial concurrence and partial dissent, determined Family Court’s directives with respect to religion in this custody case should be vacated:

While a court may consider religion as a factor in determining the best interests of a child in custody disputes, “it alone may not be the determinative factor” (Aldous v Aldous, 99 AD2d 197 …). Additionally, cases that do consider religion as a factor generally fall into three separate categories: (1) when a child has developed actual religious ties to a specific religion and one parent is better able to serve those needs; (2) a religious belief violates a state statute; and (3) when a religious belief poses a threat to the child’s well-being … . This standard, enunciated in 1984, continues to be followed … .

None of the three categories outlined in Aldous are applicable to the case before us. The July 2020 consent order granted the parties joint legal custody with equal parenting time. Notably, no reference is made to religion in the custody order. At the time the petitions were filed, the child was not quite two years old and, as such, not of an age so as to allow him to have developed actual religious ties to a specific religion. Nor does the record reveal that the father’s religious beliefs violated a state statute or threatened the child’s well-being. As a result, Family Court improperly intervened in the parties’ religious dispute … . Thus, the court’s directives to the parties that neither parent shall permit the child to attend religious services or instruction until an agreement between the parties is reached on this issue, to address the issue of religion while participating in court-ordered coparenting counseling, and that a failure to reach an agreement with regard to religion will — after completing the court-ordered number of coparenting sessions — constitute a change in circumstances for purposes of modification, were issued in error and should be vacated. Matter of Joseph XX. v Jah-Rai YY., 2024 NY Slip Op 00950, Third Dept 2-22-24

Practice Point: The religious directives issued by Family Court in this custody case were outside the three “best interests of a child” categories outlined in the controlling case, Aldous v Aldous, i.e., “(1) when a child has developed actual religious ties to a specific religion and one parent is better able to serve those needs; (2) a religious belief violates a state statute; and (3) when a religious belief poses a threat to the child’s well-being.”

The Third Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant store’s motion for summary judgment in this trip and fall case should not have been granted. A rolling ladder had been left in an aisle of the store. The was a stabilizer bar which protruded out several inches on each side of the ladder. Plaintiff picked up something from the shelf, took one step back and tripped over the stabilizer bar as she turned. Supreme Court held the bar was readily observable and not inherently dangerous. The Third Department noted that the “readily observable” aspect of a condition goes to the duty to warn, but the duty to keep the area safe remains:

That the ladder was readily observable obviates defendants’ duty to warn of the ladder’s presence but not defendants’ continuing obligation to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition … . For her part, plaintiff acknowledged seeing the ladder, but was unaware of the protruding stabilizer bar prior to her fall. Given the circumstances surrounding the incident, we cannot agree with Supreme Court’s assessment that the ladder was not inherently dangerous … . The record includes a photograph of the ladder which shows that the stabilizer bar protruded out several inches on each side. This feature, coupled with the placement of the ladder into the center of the aisle, presented a potential tripping hazard. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff as the nonmoving party … , a question of fact remains as to whether defendants’ premises were maintained in a reasonably safe condition. Wolfe v Staples, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00957, Third Dept 2-22-24

Practice Point: The fact that an object over which plaintiff tripped was readily observable goes to defendant’s duty to warn, but not to the duty to keep the premises safer. Here a protruding bar on a readily observable rolling ladder created a potential tripping hazard and raised a question of fact about defendant’s duty to keep the premises safe.

The Third Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant summer-camp-owners’ motion to dismiss the complaint in this swimming-pool-incident case should not have been granted. Plaintiff’s decedent suffered some sort of “medical emergency” in defendants’ swimming pool. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, finding that the Sanitary Code did not require the camp to have a lifeguard and therefore defendants owed no duty to the plaintiff’s decedent. The Third Department held that, although the Sanitary Code did not require a lifeguard, it did require some level of supervision of persons using the pool:

While the CPR [lifeguard] requirement is specifically exempted for temporary residences [like defendants’ summer camp], the aquatic supervisor for a supervision level III [defendants had chosen to offer supervision level III] at a temporary residence must still possess the other enumerated qualifications (see 10 NYCRR 6-1.31 [c]). To find otherwise would render meaningless 10 NYCRR 6-1.23 (a) (3), which provides that if supervision level III is chosen then the temporary residence must adhere to the supervision level III requirements … . While it is true that 10 NYCRR 6-1.23 (a) (1) (i) exempts CPR certified staff [lifeguards] from a temporary residence that selects supervision level III, it plainly does not exempt these facilities from providing any supervision. As such, we find that Supreme Court erred in determining that defendants did not owe any duty to decedent and granting defendants summary judgment on this basis. Matter of Tamrazyan v Solway Props. LLC, 2024 NY Slip Op 00960, Third Dept 2-22-24

Practice Point: Here the duty owed by defendant summer camp to persons using the swimmer pool was spelled out in the Sanitary Code. Although the defendant summer camp, pursuant to the Code, was not required to provide a lifeguard, it was required to offer some supervision of persons using the swimming pool. Therefore the complaint should not have been dismissed on the ground that defendant did not owe a duty to plaintiff’s decedent, who suffered a medical emergency in the pool.

The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Curran, over a comprehensive two-judge dissenting opinion by Judge Wilson, determined that the sex offender risk-level assessment proceedings must be held 30 days prior to a defendant’s release from confinement, regardless whether the state is considering instituting, or already has instituted, proceedings to civilly commit the defendant pursuant to the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SORA):

The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) (Correction Law § 168 et seq.) provides that a sex offender “shall” be classified into one of three risk level categories “[30] days prior to discharge, parole or release” (Correction Law § 168-n [2]). The central question presented by these appeals is whether, for purposes of SORA, this deadline is properly measured from the date an offender is released from confinement by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), despite pending or contemplated proceedings to civilly commit the offender under the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) (Mental Hygiene Law § 10.01 et seq.). We hold that, under a plain reading of SORA, the 30-day deadline for conducting a risk level classification hearing must be measured from an offender’s release by DOCCS upon the completion of a prison sentence, irrespective of whether the state is considering instituting, or has already instituted, proceedings under SOMTA. We further hold that offenders are not denied due process by having a SORA hearing at a time when they may be civilly committed under SOMTA. People v Boone, 2024 NY Slip Op 00928, CtApp 2-22-24

Practice Point: SORA risk-level-assessment proceedings are to be held 30 days prior to defendant’s release from confinement and cannot be delayed because the state is considering or has instituted proceedings for civil commitment.

The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Garry, reversing Supreme Court, determined the records of petitioners’ minor child’s name change and sex-designation change should be permanently sealed pursuant to the Civil Rights Law:

Endeavoring to remove barriers, expand protections and simplify the subject process for transgender and nonbinary New Yorkers … , the Gender Recognition Act expressly authorizes individuals to simultaneously petition for a change in sex designation and change of name (see Civil Rights Law § 67 [3]). Notwithstanding the different sealing standards articulated within the subject articles, both provisions expressly recognize an applicant’s transgender status as a ground for sealing the records … . The provisions promote the sealing of name change applications by transgender applicants — on the court’s own initiative, even where such relief is not requested.

… [T]his is for good reason. Despite some progress in our recent past, it remains sadly true, as evidenced by nearly every memorandum in support of the Act, and amply illustrated by the amici in this case, that risk to one’s safety is always present upon public disclosure of one’s status as transgender or otherwise gender nonconforming … . The Legislature recognized that disclosure of such status subjects individuals to the risk of “hate crimes, public ridicule, and random acts of discrimination” … . Courts have also observed this unfortunate reality … . There is no doubt that violence and discrimination against transgender and nonbinary individuals continue to permeate our society at alarming rates … . Matter of Cody VV. (Brandi VV.), 2024 NY Slip Op 00961, Third Dept 2-22-24

Practice Point: Court records reflecting a sex-designation change and a name change should, in most cases, be permanently sealed pursuant to the Civil Rights Law.

The Court of Appeals, reversing the Appellate Division, determined the People were entitled to a jury instruction on the lesser included offense (burglary second degree) where the indictment charged burglary second degree as a sexually motivated offense. Defense counsel objected arguing defendant was not given notice of the need to defend against a burglary charge which did not include the “sexual gratification” element. The Appellate Division agreed with defense counsel’s argument, but the Court of Appeals rejected it, noting that a burglary could be motivated by “sexual harassment” but not by “sexual gratification:”

Defendant confronted, assaulted, and groped several women outside of a New York University dormitory, including grabbing a student by the throat and sexually assaulting her. The students managed to run from defendant and into their dormitory. Shortly thereafter, defendant entered the dormitory and had an altercation with the building’s security guard who tried to block his way, but defendant pushed through the turnstiles that separated the dormitory’s public lobby from the elevator bank that led to the private residences. The security guard was able to return defendant to the lobby, where defendant continued to harass students until police arrived and arrested him. * * *

… [C]harging burglary as a sexually motivated felony does not … limit the People to proving that a defendant intended to commit what is traditionally considered a “sex crime” when he or she entered the dwelling. … [T]he People must prove that, regardless of the crime the defendant intended to commit inside the dwelling, the burglary was motivated in substantial part by personal sexual gratification. For example, the People may charge a sexually motivated burglary based on a theory that the defendant intended to commit larceny once inside of a dwelling, but still maintain the motivation for the burglary was sexual gratification.

…[T]he inverse is also possible: the People may argue that the intended crime was obviously sexual in nature, but the jury may find that, although the defendant entered or remained in the dwelling intending to commit that crime, the motivation was something other than sexual gratification. In that situation … the proof may be insufficient to convict defendant of the sexually motivated felony but sufficient as to the lesser included offense of burglary in the second degree. People v Seignious, 2024 NY Slip Op 00927, CtApp 2-22-24

Practice Point: Although it may be possible for defense counsel to ask for a more limited jury instruction, here the People, who had charged defendant with burglary second degree as a sexually motivated felony (with a sexual-gratification element), were entitled to a jury instruction on the the lesser included offense of burglary second degree (with no sexual-gratification element).

The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Cannaturo, over a two-judge dissenting opinion by Judge Rivera, and a dissent by Judge Halligan, determined the SORA risk-level proceedings can proceed without an assessment of the defendant’s mental health, even where, as here, there is a possibility defendant make lack the capacity to fully comprehend the risk-level proceedings:

The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) requires that every person convicted of a sex offense be given a risk-level classification corresponding to their assessed likelihood of recidivism and potential danger to the community. This risk level, in turn, determines the scope of information available to the public concerning the offender. To protect against erroneous classification, judicial determination of an offender’s risk level can occur only after the offender has been provided notice, counsel, disclosure of relevant information, and an opportunity to object and present evidence at a hearing, at which the People must prove the appropriateness of the classification by clear and convincing evidence. An offender’s risk level is also subject to re-evaluation on an annual basis.

The primary question on this appeal is whether due process precludes a court from determining a sex offender’s risk level when there is a possibility that the offender—although represented by counsel and provided the other protections listed above—may lack capacity to fully comprehend risk-level assessment proceedings. We hold that the many safeguards already provided under SORA minimize the risk of inaccurate risk-level classification and adequately balance the competing private and State interests in these civil proceedings. People v Watts, 2024 NY Slip Op 00926, CtApp 2-22-24

Practice Point: The safeguards in place for SORA-risk-level-assessment proceedings are sufficient to protect the rights of a defendant who may lack the capacity to comprehend the proceedings. There is no need for an independent assessment of defendant’s mental capacity before making the risk-level assessment.

The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Warhit, determined defendant doctor and hospital in this med mal case did not attempt at trial to shift liability to the physician-defendants who had been awarded summary judgment before trial. The opinion is fact-specific and therefore will not be summarized here. The issue is discussed in detail and relevant authority is analyzed in some depth:

The principal question presented on this appeal is whether the defendants improperly attempted at trial to shift liability to certain physician-defendants who had been awarded summary judgment prior to trial. We answer this question in the negative, and find that the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying the application of the plaintiff … , in effect, for a new trial on this ground. We further conclude that the verdict was not contrary to the weight of the evidence. Angieri v Musso, 2024 NY Slip Op 00887, Second Dept 2-21-24

Practice Point: Under the specific facts brought out at trial in this med mal case, the plaintiff did not attempt to shift liability to doctors who had been awarded summary judgment prior to trial. The issue and the relevant authority are discussed in some detail.

The Second Department, reversing the Court of Claims in this bicycle-fall case, determined the assumption of the risk doctrine did not apply. Plaintiff was riding on public path which was not a designated venue for bicycling when he hit an area of broken asphalt:

… [T]he Court of Claims erred in determining that the path where the claimant’s accident occurred was a designated venue used specifically for bicycling. When the injury occurred, the claimant was engaged in a recreational bicycle ride on a paved, public surface. The claimant was not participating in an organized group event or sponsored ride. The claimant testified at trial that he could both bike and walk the path. That, in addition to the presence of pedestrians who precipitated the accident, demonstrated that the path was for public use, and not a designated venue for bicycling. Therefore, the claimant, by participating in recreational bicycling, cannot be said to have assumed the risk of being injured as a result of an alleged defective condition on the paved path, and therefore, the doctrine of primary assumption of risk is inapplicable to the claimant’s activity … . Alfieri v State of New York, 2024 NY Slip Op 00886, Second Dept 2-21-24

Practice Point: Riding a bicycle on a public path used by pedestrians and bicyclists is not a recreational activity which triggers the assumption of the risk doctrine.

The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Wan, addressing a matter of first impression, determined petitioner’s FOIL request for documents and evidence related to his murder prosecution should not have been denied on the ground that granting the request would interfere with petitioner’s pending habeas corpus proceedings in federal court. The federal court issued a stay-and-abeyance order in the habeas corpus action to allow petitioner to exhaust his state remedies. Because the stay-and-abeyance order is in effect, the Second Department held that responding to the FOIL request would not interfere with the habeas corpus proceedings and the petition to compel production of the requested records should have been granted:

On July 12, 2020, the petitioner made a request to the Kings County District Attorney (hereinafter the District Attorney), pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law …, for “any and all material” related to the matter of People v Sarkodie, Indictment No. 2544/13, “including, but not limited to, any and all recordings, whether video or audio, DD-5’s, medical reports, witness statements, police memo books, crime scene investigative reports, evidence vouchers, and ballistics reports.” … On December 13, 2020, the petitioner’s counsel filed a second habeas corpus petition in the EDNY, which was consolidated with the petitioner’s pro se habeas petition In the federal habeas proceeding, the petitioner alleged both exhausted and unexhausted state law claims.

By order dated December 23, 2020 (hereinafter the stay-and-abeyance order), the EDNY acknowledged that the federal habeas proceeding “contains unexhausted claims that are not plainly meritless.” Accordingly, the EDNY “f[ound] a stay to be appropriate and h[eld] the Petition [*2]in abeyance” to allow the petitioner to “exhaust his unexhausted claims and perfect the petition … .  * * *

… [T]he District Attorney failed to establish that the records sought were exempt from disclosure pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87(2)(e)(i), since the District Attorney failed to establish that disclosure would interfere with the pending federal habeas proceeding … . Matter of Sarkodie v Kings County Dist. Attorney, 2024 NY Slip Op 00908, Second Dept 2-21-24

Practice Point: A FOIL request for documents and evidence related to defendant’s murder conviction should not have been denied on the ground that responding to the request would interfere with petitioner’s habeas corpus proceedings in federal court  The federal court had issued a stay-and-abeyance order to allow petitioner to exhaust his state remedies. Therefore, the petition to compel production of the sought documents and evidence should have been granted.

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the action against a town police officer (Cunningham) and the town alleging the officer acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others during a high speed chase should not have been dismissed. The car which was pursued by Cunningham struck plaintiff’s (Kolvenbach’s) car:

… [T]he Town defendants failed to eliminate all triable issues of fact as to whether Cunningham acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others and whether such conduct was a proximate cause of Kolvenbach’s injuries … . In support of the Town defendants’ motion, they submitted, among other things, transcripts of the deposition testimony of Cunningham and other witnesses who testified that, on the day at issue, Cunningham pursued Williams at high speeds on damp roads through a main thoroughfare, and that Williams’ vehicle narrowly avoided colliding with other vehicles at earlier points during the pursuit. Thus, contrary to the determination of the Supreme Court, there are triable issues of fact as to whether Cunningham acted in reckless disregard of the safety of others in continuing the pursuit … . There also remain triable issues of fact as to whether Cunningham activated the siren on his police vehicle … and whether he violated police protocols by failing to update his supervisors on the progress of the pursuit via his police radio … . Kolvenbach v Cunningham, 2024 NY Slip Op 00900, Second Dept 2-21-24

Practice Point: This case demonstrates what may constitute “reckless disregard for the safety of others” by a police officer during a high-speed chase which may result in municipal liability for injuries caused by the pursued vehicle.

he Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the motion to dismiss the defendant’s counterclaim for lost profits should not have been converted to a summary judgment motion and the counterclaim must be dismissed because defendant did not demonstrate consequential damages for lost profits was contemplated by the parties when the contract for the sale of goods was entered. The contract was for the sale of military ordnance (target practice rounds) for the Mexican Navy. In its counterclaim, the defendant alleged the goods were not timely delivered and were not accepted by the Mexican Navy:

Lost profits are a form of consequential damages that a buyer, such as the defendant, may recover if “the seller at the time of contracting had reason to know [of them] and which could not reasonably [have been] prevented by cover or otherwise” (UCC 2-715[2][a] …). “To determine whether consequential damages were reasonably contemplated by the parties, ‘the nature, purpose and particular circumstances of the contract known by the parties should be considered, as well as what liability the defendant fairly may be supposed to have assumed consciously, or to have warranted the plaintiff reasonably to suppose that it assumed, when the contract was made'” … . In order to recover consequential damages, a pleading party is required to allege that the damages were foreseeable and within the contemplation of the parties at the time the contract was made … . “[W]here the damages reflect a loss of profits on collateral business arrangements, they are only recoverable when (1) it is demonstrated with certainty that the damages have been caused by the breach, (2) the extent of the loss is capable of proof with reasonable certainty, and (3) it is established that the damages were fairly within the contemplation of the parties” … .

Here, the defendant’s allegations, even as supplemented by an affidavit from its president, failed to sufficiently allege that consequential damages as lost future profits resulting from the cancellation of the defendant’s contract with the Mexican Navy due to the plaintiff’s breach of contract were within the plaintiff’s contemplation at the time of entering into the contract for the sale of goods (see UCC 2-715[2][a] …). Island Ordnance Sys., LLC v Amerimex, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00897, Second Dept 2-21-24

Practice Point: With respect to a contract for the sale of goods controlled by the UCC, a claim for lost profits must specifically allege “lost profits” as an element of consequential damages was contemplated by the parties at the time the contract was entered, not the case here.

The Second Department, in a comprehensive opinion by Justice Wooten, over a comprehensive partial concurrence and partial dissent, determined that a NYC Local Law which allowed non-citizens to vote in NYC municipal elections is invalid. The opinion addressed in detail the standing of the different categories of plaintiffs and the validity of the Local Law under the NYS Constitution, the Election Law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law:

This case concerns the validity of Local Law No. 11 (2022) of City of New York, which created a new class of voters eligible to vote in municipal elections consisting of individuals who are not United States citizens and who meet certain enumerated criteria. We determine that this local law was enacted in violation of the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law, and thus, must be declared null and void. …

The local law created a new class of voters called “municipal voters” who would be entitled to vote in municipal elections for the offices of mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president, and council member. The law defines a “municipal voter” as “a person who is not a United States citizen on the date of the election on which he or she is voting,” and who meets the following criteria: (1) “is either a lawful permanent resident or authorized to work in the United States”; (2) “is a resident of New York [C]ity and will have been such a resident for 30 consecutive days or longer by the date of such election”; and (3) “meets all qualifications for registering or pre-registering to vote under the election law, except for possessing United States citizenship, and who has registered or pre-registered to vote with the board of elections in the city of New York under this chapter.” Fossella v Adams, 2024 NY Slip Op 00891, Second Dept 2-21-24

Practice Point: A NYC Local Law allowing non-US citizens to vote in NYC municipal elections is null and void.

The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Garcia, clarified the appropriate procedures for modifying a securing order when a defendant who has been released on bail is alleged to have committed other crimes:

While out on bail after his arrest for a felony, defendant was arrested three times for additional violent felonies. The court modified his securing order by remanding defendant. This appeal concerns the overlap between statutory provisions governing modifications to securing orders under these circumstances. We now hold that, where otherwise applicable, courts may modify a securing order when a defendant is charged with additional class A or violent felonies pursuant to either CPL 530.60 (1) or 530.60 (2) (a), but that, where the Court proceeds under CPL 530.60 (1), the record must reflect that the decision was based on the risk of flight factors and criteria in CPL 510.30. Where, as here, the record does not demonstrate that the court’s decision was based on defendant’s increased risk of flight, it will be assumed that the court proceeded pursuant to CPL 530.60 (2) (a) and a failure to follow the procedural requirements of CPL 530.60 (2) (c) will be considered error. * * *

Where a court modifies a securing order on [a]reasonable cause finding, and so determines that a defendant poses a danger to the community, the court must ensure that the procedural requirements of subdivision (2) (c) are followed (see e.g. People ex rel. Ryan v Warden, 113 AD2d 116, 117 [1st Dept 1985] [subdivision (2) (c) hearing required where “(p)etitioner’s remand without bail was, concededly, based solely upon his arrest for a new charge as provided for in CPL 530.60 (2) (a) and not on any finding that there was a likelihood he might not return to court (under) CPL 530.60 (1)”]). These prerequisites—a hearing with relevant, admissible evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses, or the submission of grand jury testimony transcripts—are designed to provide the court with a basis for a reasonable cause determination and to ensure that a defendant receives due process. While the procedural prerequisites provide for a more formal hearing with witness testimony, they also provide the People with the option, as they did upon remittal here, to submit transcripts of grand jury testimony—a streamlined approach that may provide the support needed for a reasonable cause finding. People ex rel. Rankin v Brann, 2024 NY Slip Op 00850, CtApp 2-20-24

Practice Point: Before bail is revoked because the defendant is alleged to have committed felonies while released on bail, a full evidentiary hearing must be held to flesh out the alleged crimes, or the People may submit transcripts of grand jury testimony. The mere allegation that defendant committed additional crimes while on bail is not enough.

The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Singas, with a concurrence, affirming defendant’s convictions in this murder, attempted murder and assault case, determined the judge did not err by denying defense counsel’s request to reread the justification jury instruction after the jury sent out a note asking for the definitions of the charged offenses. The jury asked for “[a]ll definitions discussed: Murder II, Manslaughter I, Depraved Murder II, etc.,” Because the request was deemed specific the justification instruction was not reread because the jury didn’t request it:

… “[T]he form of the jury’s” note indicated a request that the jury be recharged on the elements of the crimes … . The jury note asked for “all definitions” contained in the charges: the jury did not simply ask for “all definitions” to be read back but instead chose to limit which “definitions” it sought by providing an exemplary list containing the first three of the ten criminal offenses on which the trial court had originally instructed the jury and ending the list with “etc.” The usage of “etc.” in this context corroborates this interpretation of the note because et cetera at the end of a list signals “others especially of the same kind” … . That the jury did not seek further instruction or clarification after the recharge also supports our conclusion that the trial court correctly interpreted the jury note and responded meaningfully and with the complete information sought … . People v Aguilar, 2024 NY Slip Op 00849, CtApp 2-20-24

Practice Point: A judge must respond “meaningfully” to a jury note. Here the note requested definitions of the charged crimes. The judge properly denied defense counsel’s request to reread the justification instruction because the jury’s not was specific and did not mention justification.

The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Cannataro, affirming defendant’s convictions, determined defendant’s inability to see jurors’ facial expressions during voir dire, because of the COVID mask-wearing requirement, did not deprive him of the opportunity to be present during jury selection and did not deprive him of due process of law. Although the jurors wore masks when not questioned during voir dire, the mask was removed when each juror was questioned individually:

… [D]efendant maintains that safety protocols implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic—namely social distancing and the requirement that prospective jurors cover their mouths and noses with a face mask when not being questioned individually—violated these rights because defendant could not see each prospective juror’s entire face throughout the jury selection process. Because neither a defendant’s right to be present during jury selection nor due process require that defendant have a simultaneous, unobstructed view of the entirety of every prospective juror’s face during jury selection, we affirm. * * *

… D]efendant was present at all phases of jury selection. … [D]efendant was able to hear the questions posed to prospective jurors and to observe their responses including their “facial expressions, demeanor and other subliminal responses.” * * *

… [T]he safety protocols in use at defendant’s jury selection were permissible as they did not impede defendant’s ability to be present and observe the selection process. A defendant’s right to be present at jury selection does not entail the absolute or unlimited ability to observe each prospective juror’s facial expressions. After all, there is much more to body language than a person’s nose or mouth; defendant could still observe a great deal about prospective jurors including their posturing, the position of their arms, and their eyes and eyebrows … . People v Ramirez, 2024 NY Slip Op 00848, CtApp 2-20-24

Practice Point: Here, during voir dire, the jurors who were not being questioned wore face masks. Defendant’s inability to see the full faces of the jurors when they were not being questioned did not deprive defendant of his right to be present during jury selection and did not deprive defendant of due process of law.

The Court of Appeals, reversing the Appellate Division, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Rivera, with a three-judge concurring opinion by Judge Garcia, determined the plastic sheeting placed on an escalator during painting was a “foreign substance” within the meaning the Industrial Code and the sheeting was not “integral to the work” within the meaning of the Industrial Code. Plaintiff was therefore entitled to summary judgment on the Labor Law 241(6) cause of action. Plaintiff was required to stand on the plastic while painting. He slipped and fell as he stepped onto the sheeting. There was testimony that drop cloths or wood panels would be safer alternative coverings:

As to whether the covering’s properties are the type encompassed within the affirmative mandate of 12 NYCRR 23-1.7 (d), because that section specifically lists ice, snow, water and grease, the catchall reference to “other foreign substance” includes those substances that share a quality common to the enumerated items. The listed items are, by their nature, types of material that are slippery when in contact with an area where someone walks, seeks passage, or stands, and, when the substance is present, would make it difficult if not impossible to use the work area safely, necessitating one of the affirmative mitigating measures set forth in section 23-1.7 (d) as a means to provide safe footing. The plastic covering used here similarly made [plaintiff’s] work area slippery upon contact, with the result that [plaintiff] could not traverse the plastic-covered escalator without risking a fall. * * *

… [T]he use of some cover was integral to [plaintiff’s] assignment to paint around the escalator. But that does not mean that any cover used—even one that was inherently slippery—was necessarily “integral,” particularly where a safer alternative would have accomplished the same goal. The plastic covering that was placed on the escalator was not integral to the paint job because it made [plaintiff’s] work area slippery, creating one of the hazards that the cover was intended to avoid. … Defendant was in a position to avoid this danger because … there were alternative coverings—drop cloths and wood panels—that were familiar, previously-used options that would have achieved the goal of protecting the worker from injuries caused by a slipping hazard and also protected the escalator from possible damage. Bazdaric v Almah Partners LLC, 2024 NY Slip Op 00847, CtApp 2-20-24

Practice Point: A prohibited “foreign substance” within the meaning of the Industrial Code can include slippery plastic sheeting (here used as a drop cloth during a painting project). Therefore requiring workers to stand or walk on slippery plastic sheeting can be a violation of the Industrial Code, triggering Labor Law 241(6) liability.

Practice Point: Because there were safer alternatives, the slippery plastic covering was not “integral to the job” within the meaning of the Industrial Code.

The First Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Oing, determined plaintiff (EPAC) had repudiated its book-printing contract with defendant (Wiley) when it sold its printing operation to non-party LS-1. Therefore Wiley was entitled to summary judgment on EPAC’s breach of contract action:

“A repudiation can be either ‘a statement by the obligor to the obligee indicating that the obligor will commit a breach that would of itself give the obligee a claim for damages for total breach’ or ‘a voluntary affirmative act which renders the obligor unable or apparently unable to perform without such a breach'” … . Put another way, “a party repudiates a contract ‘where that party, before the time of performance arrives, puts it out of his power to keep his contract'” … . “Besides giving the nonrepudiating party an immediate right to sue for damages for total breach, a repudiation discharges the nonrepudiating party’s obligations to render performance in the future” … . Thus, if there were a repudiation, the rest of the case falls away, and Wiley would be entitled to summary judgment dismissing the complaint. EPAC Tech., Inc. v John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00933, First Dept 2-20-24

Practice Point: Here the requirements for “repudiation” of a contract are described in some detail.

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment on his Labor Law 240(1) cause of action. Plaintiff was ordered to carry a 200 pound mold up a concrete stairway. He slipped on concrete debris and fell down the stairs. The fact that the concrete stairway was a permanent structure (as opposed to a scaffold or ladder, for example) did not remove it from the reach of Labor Law 240(1):

Contrary to defendants’ contention, the fact that the staircase on which plaintiff fell was constructed as a permanent structure does not remove it from the reach of Labor Law § 240(1) .. . Because plaintiff’s foreman instructed him to work on an elevated work platform—namely, the stairway—defendants were required to provide plaintiff with an adequate safety device to carry the staircase mold up the stairs. Defendants failed to do so, and the absence of a safety device was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries. At the time of his fall, plaintiff was following his foreman’s instructions to manually carry the mold up the stairs, and thus, he was not the sole proximate cause of the accident … . DaSilva v Toll GC LLC, 2024 NY Slip Op 00862, First Dept 2-20-24

Practice Point: Labor Law 240(1) can apply to a fall from a permanent concrete stairway. The statute does not apply exclusively to temporary structures like scaffolds, for example.

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the breach of contract cause of action was sufficiently alleged. Although the complaint did not specifically identify the breached contract, the reference to the relevant provisions of the NYC Administrative Code and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) permits gave sufficient notice of the nature of the claim:

… [P]laintiffs alleged that Con Edison failed to ensure payment of prevailing wages by codefendant … as required by the permits issued by the City Department of Transportation (DOT), in that it breached agreements required to be made, pursuant to Administrative Code of City of NY § 19-142, prior to obtaining such permits. Administrative Code § 19-142 required Con Edison “to agree that . . . the prevailing scale of union wages shall be the prevailing wage for similar titles as established by the fiscal officer pursuant to section [220] of the labor law, paid to those so employed,” and provides that “[n]o permit shall be issued until such agreement shall have been entered into with the” DOT. As required by the Administrative Code, the DOT permits issued to Con Edison stated that the permittee was required, “before such permit may be issued, to agree . . . that the prevailing scale of union wages shall be the prevailing wage for similar titles” established pursuant to Labor Law § 220 … …

… [T]he fact that the breach of contract cause of action in the complaint does not specifically identify the relevant contract but instead refers to “the promises required to be made pursuant to New York City Administrative Code § 19-142 prior to obtaining such permits,” does not require dismissal. Despite the non-specificity, the complaint “give[s] sufficient notice of the nature of the claim” by referencing Administrative Code § 19-142 and the DOT permits … . Ross v No Parking Today, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00880, First Dept 2-20-24

Practice Point: Here the failure to identify the specific contract which was breached did not require dismissal of the breach of contract cause of action because the nature of the action was sufficiently alleged by reference to the applicable NYC Administrative Code provision and NYC Department of Transportation permits.

The Court of Appeals, in a comprehensive full-fledged opinion by Judge Troutman, answering questions posed by the Second Circuit, determined the extent to which the exchange of unsecured for secured notes offered to shareholders by the Venezuela’s state-owned oil company was controlled by the New York Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The court concluded the validity of the notes under the UCC is governed by Venezuelan law and New York law governs the transaction in all other aspects. The opinion is far too detailed and complex to fairly summarize here. At the heart of the dispute is the 2018 re-election of Nicolas Maduro as President of Venezuela and the declaration by the Venezuelan National Assembly naming Juan Guaido as interim President, followed by the National Assembly’s declaration that the exchange of unsecured for secured notes was unauthorized:

In 2016, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company offered a bond swap through which its noteholders could exchange unsecured notes due in 2017 for new, secured notes due in 2020. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified three questions to this Court concerning the extent to which New York law governs this transaction. … [W]e answer that Venezuelan law governs the validity of the notes under Uniform Commercial Code § 8-110 (a) (1), which encompasses within its scope plaintiffs’ arguments concerning whether the issuance of the notes was duly authorized by the Venezuelan National Assembly under the Venezuelan Constitution—i.e., whether there is a defect in the notes occasioned by the application of a constitutional provision bearing on the procedure through which the notes were issued. … New York law governs the transaction in all other respects, including the consequences if a security was “issued with a defect going to its validity” (UCC 8-202 [b] [1]-[2]). * * *

Plaintiffs are three related entities. Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) is an oil and gas company wholly owned by the Venezuelan government (Venezuelan Const art 303 [“the State shall retain all shares of” PDVSA]). PDVSA Petróleo S.A. (Petróleo) is incorporated in Venezuela and is a wholly owned subsidiary of PDVSA. PDV Holding, Inc. (PDVH), also a wholly owned subsidiary of PDVSA, is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business in Houston, Texas. PDVH wholly owns CITGO Holding, Inc., which is the sole owner of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, a refiner and marketer of petroleum products in the United States. Nonparties CITGO Holding and CITGO Petroleum Corporation are both incorporated in Delaware with a principal place of business in Houston. Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. v MUFG Union Bank, N.A., 2024 NY Slip Op 00851, CtApp 2-20-24

Practice Point: Nicolas Maduro was re-elected President of Venezuela. Juan Guaido was subsequently named interim President of Venezuela by the Venezuelan National Assembly. The question at the heart of this dispute is whether actions taken by President Maduro (issuance of notes offered by the Venezuelan state-owned oil company) are valid in the face of a subsequent declaration by the Venezuelan National Assembly that the issuance of the notes was not authorized.