The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined sanctions for allegedly frivolous conduct should not have be imposed without a motion on notice and an opportunity to respond:
Pursuant to 22 NYCRR 130-1.1, a court, in its discretion, after a reasonable opportunity to be heard, may impose sanctions against a party or the attorney for a party, or both, for frivolous conduct … . “The form of the hearing shall depend [on] the nature of the conduct and the circumstances of the case” … . Conduct may be deemed frivolous if it is “undertaken primarily to delay or prolong the resolution of the litigation, or to harass or maliciously injure another,” or “asserts material factual statements that are false” … . In determining if sanctions are appropriate, the court looks at the broad pattern of conduct by the offending attorneys or parties … .
Here, the appellants contend, inter alia, that the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in imposing a sanction upon them without affording them an opportunity to be heard. We agree. Under the particular circumstances of this case, the appellants should have received notice of their alleged offending conduct by way of a motion made on notice containing allegations of fact, and should have been given an opportunity to respond. The letter to the court from the plaintiff … , in which sanctions were requested, was insufficient to provide the defendants with notice of their alleged offending conduct. Muhametaj v Town of Orangetown, 2021 NY Slip Op 03460, Second Dept 6-2-21