The Third Department, reversing County Court, determined the small claims action seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution was not precluded by the doctrine of res judicata. The prior action between the same parties was a property dispute concerning a right-of-way. Although the small claims matter arose from the property dispute, pursuant to the permissive counterclaim rule, the doctrine of res judicata did not apply. The Third Department also determined the pretrial motion to dismiss the small claims matter should not have been granted, noting such a motion should rarely be entertained within the simplified small claims procedure:
The doctrine of res judicata provides that “‘once a claim is brought to a final conclusion, all other claims arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions are barred, even if based upon different theories or if seeking a different remedy'” … . Nevertheless, the permissive counterclaim rule operates to “save from the bar of res judicata those claims for separate or different relief that could have been but were not interposed in the parties’ prior action” so long as the second action is not based on “a preexisting claim for relief that would impair the rights or interests established in the first action” … .
A review of the record establishes that, although some of plaintiff’s allegations relate to events that predate the first action and are connected to defendants’ attempts in the first action to assert their rights as property owners, the monetary relief that plaintiff now seeks is different than the relief he obtained in the first action and would in no way impair the rights established by the first action. Thus, we find that County Court’s conclusion that the doctrine of res judicata bars plaintiff from raising his negligent infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution claims in this action was clearly erroneous … . Accordingly, we conclude that “substantial justice was not meted out according to the substantive law” as to these claims … .
We also find that County Court erred in addressing the merits of defendants’ pretrial motion to dismiss as it related to the malicious prosecution claim inasmuch as informal and simplified procedures govern small claims actions (see UCCA 1804), and pretrial motions to dismiss should rarely be entertained … . In light of the fact that plaintiff, who appears pro se, has not yet had the opportunity to present his evidence at a hearing, we find that substantial justice will best be served by remittal to City Court for a prompt trial … . Rackowski v Araya, 2017 NY Slip Op 05481, 3rd Dept 7-6-17
CIVIL PROCEDURE ((1) PURSUANT TO THE PERMISSIVE COUNTERCLAIM RULE, THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA DID NOT APPLY, (2) PRETRIAL MOTION TO DISMISS IS RARELY APPROPRIATE WITHIN THE SIMPLIFIED SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURE 3RD DEPT)/RES JUDICATA (PURSUANT TO THE PERMISSIVE COUNTERCLAIM RULE, THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA DID NOT APPLY 3RD DEPT)/PERMISSIVE COUNTERCLAIM RULE (RES JUDICATA, PURSUANT TO THE PERMISSIVE COUNTERCLAIM RULE, THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA DID NOT APPLY 3RD DEPT)/SMALL CLAIMS (CIVIL PROCEDURE, PRETRIAL MOTION TO DISMISS IS RARELY APPROPRIATE WITHIN THE SIMPLIFIED SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURE 3RD DEPT)/DISMISS, PRETRIAL MOTION TO (SMALL CLAIMS, PRETRIAL MOTION TO DISMISS IS RARELY APPROPRIATE WITHIN THE SIMPLIFIED SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURE 3RD DEPT)/COUNTERCLAIMS (PURSUANT TO THE PERMISSIVE COUNTERCLAIM RULE, THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA DID NOT APPLY 3RD DEPT)