The Second Department determined Supreme Court properly excluded a purported copy of a guaranty from evidence and properly dismissed the complaint which sought enforcement of the guaranty. The purported original guaranty was incomplete and was withdrawn as evidence:
Supreme Court properly determined that the proffered copy of the guaranty was inadmissible as secondary evidence of the terms of the guaranty or pursuant to CPLR 4539(a). Under an exception to the best evidence rule, “secondary evidence of the contents of an unproduced original may be admitted upon threshold factual findings by the trial court that the proponent of the substitute has sufficiently explained the unavailability of the primary evidence and has not procured its loss or destruction in bad faith” … . Once the absence of an original document is excused, all competent secondary evidence is generally admissible to prove its contents … . However, the proponent of the secondary evidence has a “heavy burden of establishing, preliminarily to the court’s satisfaction, that it is a reliable and accurate portrayal of the original” … . “Thus, as a threshold matter, the trial court must be satisfied that the proffered evidence is authentic and correctly reflects the contents of the original’ before ruling on its admissibility” … .
Here, even if the plaintiff sufficiently explained the unavailability of the original guaranty … , it failed to meet its heavy burden of establishing that the proffered copy was a reliable and accurate portrayal of the original … . The plaintiff’s principal was not present when the original guaranty was executed, and thus could not testify as to whether the original guaranty was similarly missing a portion of paragraph 4, while Gluck testified that the guaranty she executed contained complete paragraphs. Further, the copy was not satisfactorily identified as a copy of the guaranty so as to be admissible as a reproduction pursuant to CPLR 4539(a) … . 76-82 St. Marks, LLC v Gluck, 2017 NY Slip Op 01329, 2nd Dept 2-22-17
CONTRACT LAW (PROFFERED COPY OF A GUARANTY PROPERLY EXCLUDED FROM EVIDENCE)/GUARANTY (EVIDENCE, PROFFERED COPY OF A GUARANTY PROPERLY EXCLUDED FROM EVIDENCE)/EVIDENCE (PROFFERED COPY OF A GUARANTY PROPERLY EXCLUDED FROM EVIDENCE)