The First Department, over a two-justice dissent, determined that the evidence at the bench trial in this foreclosure proceeding supported the judge’s conclusion that plaintiff bank was not the cause of defendant’s inability to obtain financing to payoff the mortgage pursuant to a settlement agreement. The dissenters argued the trial judge’s findings were against the weight of the evidence, primarily because the judge found defendant’s testimony to be “honest and accurate.” The key issue in the appeal was whether there were sufficient grounds to disturb the judge’s factual findings:
… [W]e perceive no basis on which to disturb the trial court’s determination. As articulated by the Court of Appeals, the standard of review on an appeal from a decision based on findings of fact, resting in large measure on determinations of the credibility of witnesses, made by the court after a bench trial, is as follows:
“[T]he decision of the fact-finding court should not be disturbed upon appeal unless it is obvious that the court’s conclusions could not be reached under any fair interpretation of the evidence, especially when the findings of fact rest in large measure on considerations relating to the credibility of witnesses” (Thoreson v Penthouse Intl., 80 NY2d 490, 495  …).
Supreme Court’s rejection of defendant’s claim — a claim based on testimony not only lacking support in the contemporaneous documentary evidence, but inconsistent with that evidence — more than passes muster under this highly deferential standard. Security Pac. Natl. Bank v Evans, 2019 NY Slip Op 06138, First Dept 8-13-19