The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Gische, determined that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint and an affirmative defense asserted in the answer to the amended complaint could be the basis of a summary judgment motion, even though the same ground was asserted in a prior, unsuccessful summary judgment motion. The substantive issue was whether billing software licensed to a doctor was “service … to or for … personal property” within the meaning of General Obligations Law 5-903 (2). The court determined the billing software was covered by the General Obligations Law and, therefore, the automatic renewal provision in the contract between the software company and the doctor could not be enforced. The “General Obligations Law” affirmative defense was not asserted in the original answer and a summary judgment motion based on the unpled affirmative defense had previously been denied:
We find that the second summary judgment motion, brought after the pleadings were amended on a substantive issue not previously decided by the court, was procedurally proper. “Once plaintiff served the amended complaint, the original complaint was superseded, and the amended complaint became the only complaint in the action. The action was then required to proceed as though the original pleading had never been served” … . Thus, defendant’s appeal from the prior order denying summary judgment became moot …, and “sufficient cause . . . exist[ed]” for his motion for summary judgment dismissing the amended complaint … . …
General Obligations Law § 5-903 does not define “personal property,” although it broadly defines “person” as “an individual, firm, company, partnership or corporation” and also states that its restrictions apply unless “the person receiving the service” is served with advanced notice calling its attention to the renewal clause in the contract (General Obligations Law § 5-903). The statute does not require that the person own the “personal property” being serviced, and section 5-903 has been analyzed by courts in a variety of circumstances to determine its applicability. Personal property has been interpreted to include intellectual property as well as tangible personal property … . The purpose of the notice provision is to protect service recipients from the harm of unintended automatic renewals of contracts for consecutive periods … . Since § 5-903 is remedial in nature it is construed broadly … .
We find that the parties’ agreement was “for service . . . to or for . . . personal property” within the meaning of the General Obligations Law. The services provided were directly and inextricably related to the billing and medical records of the practice, which are personal property. Healthcare IQ LLC v Tsai Chung Chao, 2014 NY Slip Op 03216, 1st Dept 5-6-14