The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 306-b to extend the time to serve the defendant should have been granted and explained the criteria:
CPLR 306-b provides, in pertinent part, that “[s]ervice of the summons and complaint . . . shall be made within one hundred twenty days after the commencement of the action. . . . If service is not made upon a defendant within the time provided in this section, the court, upon motion, shall dismiss the action without prejudice as to that defendant, or upon good cause shown or in the interest of justice, extend the time for service.”
“The interest of justice standard requires a careful judicial analysis of the factual setting of the case and a balancing of the competing interests presented by the parties. Unlike an extension request premised on good cause, a plaintiff need not establish reasonably diligent efforts at service as a threshold matter. However, the court may consider diligence, or lack thereof, along with any other relevant factor in making its determination, including expiration of the Statute of Limitations, the meritorious nature of the cause of action, the length of delay in service, the promptness of a plaintiff’s request for the extension of time, and prejudice to defendant”… . CPLR 306-b “empowers a court faced with the dismissal of a viable claim to consider any factor relevant to the exercise of its discretion. No one factor is determinative—the calculus of the court’s decision is dependent on the competing interests of the litigants and a clearly expressed desire by the Legislature that the interests of justice be served” … .
Here, the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 306-b for an extension of time to serve the defendant with the summons and complaint in the interest of justice, considering, inter alia, the expiration of the statute of limitations, the meritorious nature of the plaintiff’s cause of action, the plaintiff’s prompt request for the extension, and the lack of demonstrable prejudice to the defendant … . U.S. Bank N.A. v Viera, 2020 NY Slip Op 05549, Second Dept 10-7-2