Affirmative Defense Waived by Absence from Initial Answer May Be Included in Amended Answer.
he Second Department determined a “lack of standing” defense to a mortgage foreclosure action, although initially waived by its absence from the pleadings, could be added in an amended answer:
Leave to amend a pleading “shall be freely given” (CPLR 3025[b]), provided that the amendment is not palpably insufficient as a matter of law, does not prejudice or surprise the opposing party, and is not patently devoid of merit … . The decision of whether to allow an amendment is committed “almost entirely to the [motion] court’s discretion” … . “Mere lateness is not a barrier to the amendment. It must be lateness coupled with significant prejudice to the other side, the very elements of the laches doctrine” … .
Although …the homeowner defendants…waived the defense of lack of standing by failing to assert it as an affirmative defense in their initial answer (see CPLR 3211[e]), this defense can nevertheless be interposed by leave of court pursuant to CPLR 3025(b) so long as the amendment does not cause the other party prejudice or surprise resulting directly from the delay… . HSBC Bank v Picarello, 2013 NY Slip Op 07011, 2nd Dept 10-30-13