The First Department, reversing Supreme Court in this shareholders’ derivative action against a low-income Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC), determined: (1) although a sua sponte order is not appealable, the appeal of the dismissal of the cause of action for an accounting is heard in the interest of justice; (2) the proper way to handle a sua sponte order is to move to vacate it and then appeal; (3) there was no need to amend the complaint because the accounting cause of action included the right to damages for wrongdoing (here the alleged failure to account for the sale of an apartment for $90,000):
An order issued sua sponte is not appealable as of right (see CPLR 5701[a] …). Plaintiffs’ remedy is to move to vacate the court’s order, and, if the motion is denied, appeal from that order (CPLR 5701[a] …). …
… [W]e find that Supreme Court erred in dismissing the complaint because the cause of action for an equitable accounting was not moot. Supreme Court conflated the first cause of action for the inspection of the HDFC’s books and records with the second cause of action for an equitable accounting … . Defendants failed to demonstrate what happened to the $90,000 from the sale of Apartment 6A, and the funds do not appear in the HDFC’s financials. Defendants’ affidavits did not address this glaring deficiency.
… An equitable accounting involves a remedy “designed to require a person in possession of financial records to produce them, demonstrate how money was expended and return pilfered funds in his or her possession” … . Available relief includes a personal judgment against the wrongdoer … . Hall v Louis, 2020 NY Slip Op 03268, First Dept 6-11-20