The Third Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that dismissal of a second complaint arising out of the same facts as the first complaint, filed two months earlier, was not required. Plaintiff had hired new counsel 13 days before the statute of limitations ran out. The first complaint mentioned both intentional and negligent conduct. The second complaint fleshed out specific intentional torts:
CPLR 3211 (a) (4) does not require a trial court to dismiss an action upon the ground that another similar action is pending, instead allowing it to “make such order as justice requires” … . … “[t]he purpose of the defense of the pendency of another action between the same parties for the same cause is to prevent a party from being harassed or burdened by having to defend a multiplicity of suits” . In our view, the reasons stated by plaintiff for commencing this action rather than moving for leave to amend the first complaint are not… so clearly inadequate that dismissal was required to serve that purpose … . …
We note that Supreme Court agreed with plaintiff that there was insufficient time to pursue a motion for leave to amend pursuant to CPLR 2214 (b). As the court observed, it was possible that plaintiff could have obtained timely relief by bringing a request for leave to amend the first complaint via an order to show cause … . Nevertheless, even if counsel erred in failing to pursue that course, dismissal of this action is too harsh a consequence.
Where, as here, relief is required under CPLR 3211 (a) (4) to correct similar pending actions, “consolidation or joint trial is permissible and in many instances preferable to dismissal”… . In his opposition to defendant’s motion to dismiss, plaintiff requested such relief as an alternative remedy. Thus, the requirement for notice to defendant before consolidation is ordered has been satisfied (see CPLR 602 [a] … ). Accordingly, we direct Supreme Court to consolidate this action with the first action, and remit for that purpose. LaBuda v LaBuda, 2019 NY Slip Op 05366, Third Dept 7-3-19
[Note that it may have been possible for the plaintiff to file a copy of the proposed supplemental summons with a motion to amend the complaint which would have tolled the statute of limitations. (see Karagiannis v North Shore Long Is. Jewish Health Sys., Inc., 80 AD3d 569, 569 [2d Dept 2011])]