The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff’s motion to amend its complaint, which originally stemmed from the alleged encroachment of defendant’s pipes (since removed), should have been granted, despite the passage of six years (during which a default judgment was vacated):
The Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the plaintiff’s cross motion which was for leave to amend the complaint. Permission to amend a pleading should be “freely given” (CPLR 3025[b] …), where the proposed amendment is neither palpably insufficient nor patently devoid of merit, and there is no evidence that the amendment would prejudice or surprise the opposing party … . Mere lateness is not a basis for denying an amendment; ” [i]t must be lateness coupled with significant prejudice to the other side, the very elements of the laches doctrine'” … . The burden of establishing prejudice is on the party opposing the amendment … .
Here, notwithstanding the lengthy gap in time between the commencement of the action and the plaintiff’s cross motion for leave to amend the complaint, the defendant has made no showing that it was surprised by the new allegations or would be significantly prejudiced … . Moreover, some portion of that delay is attributable to the defendant’s effort to vacate its default and the parties’ subsequent motion practice and negotiations, and there is no contention that discovery has been concluded … .
Contrary to the defendant’s contentions, the proposed amendment is not palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit. “No evidentiary showing of merit is required under CPLR 3025(b)'” … , and “a court shall not examine the legal sufficiency or merits of a pleading unless [the] insufficiency or lack of merit is clear and free from doubt” … . The allegations of the proposed amendment and the submissions in support of it adequately set forth the requisite elements for causes of action alleging private nuisance and trespass … . Krakovski v Stavros Assoc., LLC, 2019 NY Slip Op 05112, Second Dept 6-26-19