In affirming the grant of defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a contract action, the Second Department explained the analytical criteria concerning whether extrinsic evidence should be considered:
“[W]hen parties set down their agreement in a clear, complete document, their writing should as a rule be enforced according to its terms. Evidence outside the four corners of the document as to what was really intended but unstated or misstated is generally inadmissible to add to or vary the writing” … . Thus, “before looking to evidence of what was in the parties’ minds, a court must give due weight to what was in their contract” … . “A contract should be read as a whole to ensure that undue emphasis is not placed upon particular words and phrases” … . “Whether a contract is ambiguous is a question of law and extrinsic evidence may not be considered unless the document itself is ambiguous” … . “Moreover, courts may not by construction add or excise terms, nor distort the meaning of those used and thereby make a new contract for the parties under the guise of interpreting the writing” … .
Here, the plaintiff failed to show any ambiguity in the subject contract that would permit consideration of the proffered extrinsic evidence of an alleged oral agreement to clarify the meaning of [a] term … . Outstanding Transp Inc v Interagency Council of Mental Retardation & Dev Disabilities, Inc, 2013 NY Slip Op 07020, 2nd Dept 10-30-13