The First Department, over a partial dissent, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined neither plaintiff nor defendant was entitled to summary judgment in this contract dispute. Defendant, KLT, represented a concert artist, Akon, who cancelled a performance, allegedly due to illness. The question was whether, under the terms of the contract, plaintiff was entitled to its money back. KLT moved for summary judgment, arguing that the “force majeure” clause applied and plaintiff was not entitled to relief. Plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment alleging breach of contract. The court found that KLT's proof of Akon's illness was insufficient and summary judgment was properly denied for that reason. The court went on to find Supreme Court should not have granted plaintiff's cross-motion because plaintiff did not demonstrate illness was not the reason for the cancellation of the concert. The decision presents another example of how appellate courts analyze summary judgment motions. Plaintiff could not rely on the gaps in KLT's proof of illness. Rather plaintiff was required to affirmatively prove illness was not the reason for the cancellation. The court further noted that witness-credibility cannot be taken into account at the summary judgment stage (the dissent argued Akon's testimony about illness was not to be believed):
… [P]laintiff, in its cross motion for summary judgment, was required to establish that Akon was able to perform at the concert and was not unable to do so due to sickness. Instead, plaintiff merely pointed to gaps in KLT's evidence — the missing medical records that would have proven Akon was ill, and thus its cross motion was improperly granted … .
The dissent merely points to additional gaps in KLT's evidence, such as proof of travel arrangements to demonstrate Akon intended to travel to Brussels [to perform the concert], and notes the limited value of the affidavit of Akon's surgeon. However, these gaps do not equate to plaintiff meeting its burden to establish an absence of a genuine issue of fact as to whether Akon was ill. Plaintiff acknowledges that it lacks any documentary evidence refuting that Akon was unable to perform, and has no evidence that he was physically capable of performing. The dissent, like the Supreme Court, appears to completely dismiss the value of Akon's deposition testimony, yet it is “not the court's function on a motion for summary judgment to assess credibility” … . Belgium v Mateo Prods., Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 02730, 1st Dept, 4-12-16