The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff’s complaint against the defaulting attorney-defendant should not have been dismissed. Plaintiff alleged defendant attorney discriminated against her by depriving her of the legal services she sought in connection with a sexual assault. Plaintiff alleged she was sexually harassed by defendant attorney. The matter was sent back to determine damages:
“[B]y defaulting, a defendant admits all traversable allegations contained in the complaint, and thus concedes liability, although not damages” … . “Some proof of liability is also required to satisfy the court as to the prima facie validity of the uncontested cause of action,” but the standard of proof is “minimal,” “not stringent” … .
… [P]laintiff averred that defendant … used his position of authority and confidence as an attorney to gain her trust, and then discriminated against her by withholding the legal services she sought in connection with litigation related to a sexual assault of plaintiff and using the pretext of offering such services to harass and subject her to unwelcome sexual conduct and advances. …
Plaintiff established claims under New York State Executive Law § 269(2)(a) (State HRL) that defendant … discriminated against plaintiff based on her gender … . [P]laintiff also made a prima facie showing that defendant[‘s] … discriminatory behavior violated the City HRL … . [P]laintiff established her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress by demonstrating that defendant … engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct through his deliberate and malicious campaign of harassment, while disregarding a substantial probability that doing so would cause severe emotional distress to her, and that his conduct did in fact did cause her severe emotional distress … . Petty v Law Off. of Robert P. Santoriella, P.C., 2021 NY Slip Op 07527, First Dept 12-28-21