JUST RELEASED

November Page III

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Summaries of Recently Released Decisions to Be Included In the Next Issue of the Digest (uncorrected)

 

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COURT OF APPEALS

CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

CPLR 8501 AND 8503, WHICH REQUIRE AN OUT OF STATE LITIGANT TO POST SECURITY FOR COSTS IN CASE THE NONRESIDENT LOSES THE CASE, DOES NOT VIOLATE THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CT APP).

The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Feinman, determined that CPLR 8501 (a) and 8503, which require an out-of-state litigant to post a minimum of $500 security for costs in case the nonresident loses, does not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause:

When plaintiff commenced this personal injury action, she was a New York resident. Plaintiff then relocated to Georgia, prompting defendants to move, pursuant to CPLR 8501 (a) and 8503, for an order compelling plaintiff—a nonresident at the time the motion was made—to post a minimum of $500 security for costs in the event she lost the case (see CPLR 8101). Defendants also requested a stay of the proceedings pursuant to CPLR 8502 until plaintiff complied with the order. In opposition, plaintiff argued that CPLR 8501 (a) and 8503 were unconstitutional because they violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Federal Constitution by impairing nonresident plaintiffs' fundamental right of access to the courts.

 

Supreme Court granted defendants' motion, opining that although access to the courts is a fundamental right protectable under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, CPLR 8501 (a) and 8503 do not bar access to the courts ... . Supreme Court further stated that security for costs provisions are common nationwide ... .

 

The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed. The court held that CPLR article 85 satisfied the standard set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Canadian Northern R.R. Co. v Eggen (252 US 553 [1920]), and re-affirmed in McBurney v Young (569 US 221 [2013]), that nonresidents must be given "access to the courts of the state upon terms which in themselves are reasonable and adequate for the enforcing of any rights [they] may have" ... . On that basis, the Appellate Division held that "the challenged statutory provisions do not deprive noncitizens of New York of reasonable and adequate access to New York courts" ... . ... [[W]e ... affirm. Clement v Durban, 2018 NY Slip Op 07693, CtApp 11-14-18

CIVIL PROCEDURE (CPLR 8501 AND 8503, WHICH REQUIRE AN OUT OF STATE LITIGANT TO POST SECURITY FOR COSTS IN CASE THE NONRESIDENT LOSES THE CASE, DOES NOT VIOLATE THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CT APP))/CPLR 8501, 8503 (CPLR 8501 AND 8503, WHICH REQUIRE AN OUT OF STATE LITIGANT TO POST SECURITY FOR COSTS IN CASE THE NONRESIDENT LOSES THE CASE, DOES NOT VIOLATE THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CT APP))/COSTS  (CPLR 8501 AND 8503, WHICH REQUIRE AN OUT OF STATE LITIGANT TO POST SECURITY FOR COSTS IN CASE THE NONRESIDENT LOSES THE CASE, DOES NOT VIOLATE THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CT APP))/CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (CPLR 8501 AND 8503, WHICH REQUIRE AN OUT OF STATE LITIGANT TO POST SECURITY FOR COSTS IN CASE THE NONRESIDENT LOSES THE CASE, DOES NOT VIOLATE THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CT APP))/PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CPLR 8501 AND 8503, WHICH REQUIRE AN OUT OF STATE LITIGANT TO POST SECURITY FOR COSTS IN CASE THE NONRESIDENT LOSES THE CASE, DOES NOT VIOLATE THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES CLAUSE (CT APP))

CIVIL PROCEDURE, MUNICIPAL LAW, RELIGION, ANIMAL LAW.

WRIT OF MANDAMUS SEEKING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OF KILLING CHICKENS PROPERLY DENIED, MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE FOR DISCRETIONARY ACTS OR TO COMPEL A PARTICULAR OUTCOME (CT APP).

The Court of Appeals determined a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the NYC Department of Health to enforce laws preventing animal cruelty was properly denied. The writ concerned the slaughter of chickens as part of the religious practice of Kaporos prior to Yom Kippur:

A writ of mandamus "is an extraordinary remedy' that is available only in limited circumstances'" ... . Such remedy will lie "only to enforce a clear legal right where the public official has failed to perform a duty enjoined by law" ... . While mandamus to compel " is an appropriate remedy to enforce the performance of a ministerial duty, it is well settled that it will not be awarded to compel an act in respect to which [a public] officer may exercise judgment or discretion'"... . Discretionary acts " involve the exercise of reasoned judgment which could typically produce different acceptable results whereas a ministerial act envisions direct adherence to a governing rule or standard with a compulsory result'". Further, mandamus may only issue to compel a public officer to execute a legal duty; it may not " direct how [the officer] shall perform that duty'" ... .

 

Enforcement of the laws cited by plaintiffs would involve some exercise of discretion (see Town of Castle Rock v Gonzales, 545 US 748, 760-761 [2005]). Moreover, plaintiffs do not seek to compel the performance of ministerial duties but, rather, seek to compel a particular outcome. Accordingly, mandamus is not the appropriate vehicle for the relief sought ... .  Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos v New York City Police Dept., 2018 NY Slip Op 07694, CtApp 11-14-18

CIVIL PROCEDURE (WRIT OF MANDAMUS SEEKING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OF KILLING CHICKENS PROPERLY DENIED, MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE FOR DISCRETIONARY ACTS OR TO COMPEL A PARTICULAR OUTCOME (CT APP))/MANDAMUS (WRIT OF MANDAMUS SEEKING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OF KILLING CHICKENS PROPERLY DENIED, MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE FOR DISCRETIONARY ACTS OR TO COMPEL A PARTICULAR OUTCOME (CT APP))/MUNICIPAL LAW (MANDAMUS, (WRIT OF MANDAMUS SEEKING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OF KILLING CHICKENS PROPERLY DENIED, MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE FOR DISCRETIONARY ACTS OR TO COMPEL A PARTICULAR OUTCOME (CT APP))/RELIGION  (WRIT OF MANDAMUS SEEKING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OF KILLING CHICKENS PROPERLY DENIED, MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE FOR DISCRETIONARY ACTS OR TO COMPEL A PARTICULAR OUTCOME (CT APP))/ANIMAL LAW  (WRIT OF MANDAMUS SEEKING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OF KILLING CHICKENS PROPERLY DENIED, MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE FOR DISCRETIONARY ACTS OR TO COMPEL A PARTICULAR OUTCOME (CT APP))

APPELLATE DIVISION

APPEALS, CIVIL PROCEDURE, ATTORNEYS.

APPEAL DISMISSED BECAUSE IT WAS FROM A STIPULATION ENTERED BY CONSENT, IT WAS NOT FROM AN APPEALABLE ORDER UNDER CPLR 5701, AND THE ISSUES COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A PRIOR APPEAL, COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NOTIFIED THE COURT OF THE PRIOR DISMISSED APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department determined the appeal must be dismissed for three reasons: the stipulation appealed from was entered into by consent, the appeal is not from an appealable order under CPLR 5701, and the matters raised on appeal could have been raised on a prior appeal. The court noted that counsel should have informed the court of the prior dismissed appeal:

We now dismiss the instant appeal for the following three reasons. First, defendant is not aggrieved by the "Stipulation and Order" on appeal because, as its title reflects, it constitutes an order entered on consent. As such, defendant "may not appeal from it" (...  see CPLR 5511...). The fact that defendant is aggrieved by the prior summary judgment order is of no moment because the "Stipulation and Order" is not a final order or judgment, and it thus does not bring up for review that prior order ... . 

Second, the appeal must be dismissed because the paper from which defendant purports to appeal is not an appealable order under CPLR 5701 (a) (2), which authorizes an appeal as of right from certain specified orders "where the motion it decided was made upon notice." That provision is inapplicable here because the "Stipulation and Order" on appeal did not decide a motion, much less a motion made on notice ... . 

Third, it is well established that "[a]n appeal that has been dismissed for failure to prosecute bars, on the merits, a subsequent appeal as to all questions that could have been raised on the earlier appeal had it been perfected" ... . Defendant's substantive contentions on the instant appeal could have been raised on the prior appeal, had it been perfected. Thus, dismissal of the instant appeal is also warranted on that ground ... . ...

Finally, given the parties' failure to inform us of the prior dismissed appeal in their appellate briefs, we must remind counsel that "attorneys for litigants in [an appellate] court have an obligation to keep the court informed of all . . . matters pertinent to the disposition of a pending appeal and cannot, by agreement between them, . . . predetermine the scope of [its] review"  ... . Dumond v New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 07853, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

APPEALS (APPEAL DISMISSED BECAUSE IT WAS FROM A STIPULATION ENTERED BY CONSENT, IT WAS NOT FROM AN APPEALABLE ORDER UNDER CPLR 5701, AND THE ISSUES COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A PRIOR APPEAL, COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NOTIFIED THE COURT OF THE PRIOR DISMISSED APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/cIVIL PROCEDURE (APPEAL DISMISSED BECAUSE IT WAS FROM A STIPULATION ENTERED BY CONSENT, IT WAS NOT FROM AN APPEALABLE ORDER UNDER CPLR 5701, AND THE ISSUES COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A PRIOR APPEAL, COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NOTIFIED THE COURT OF THE PRIOR DISMISSED APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/CPLR 5701  (APPEAL DISMISSED BECAUSE IT WAS FROM A STIPULATION ENTERED BY CONSENT, IT WAS NOT FROM AN APPEALABLE ORDER UNDER CPLR 5701, AND THE ISSUES COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A PRIOR APPEAL, COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NOTIFIED THE COURT OF THE PRIOR DISMISSED APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/ATTORNEYS  (APPEAL DISMISSED BECAUSE IT WAS FROM A STIPULATION ENTERED BY CONSENT, IT WAS NOT FROM AN APPEALABLE ORDER UNDER CPLR 5701, AND THE ISSUES COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A PRIOR APPEAL, COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NOTIFIED THE COURT OF THE PRIOR DISMISSED APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))

ARBITRATION CONTRACT LAW.

SIGNATORY TO AGREEMENT WITH AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE CANNOT AVOID ARBITRATION SIMPLY BECAUSE PARTIES ENTWINED IN THE PROCEEDINGS ARE NOT SIGNATORIES (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined that a signatory to an agreement with an arbitration clause could not avoid arbitration because other parties entwined in the matter were not signatories:

... Supreme Court should have denied that branch of Garnick's motion which sought a permanent stay of arbitration of the claims against him by Teitelbaum and Coluccio, derivatively on behalf of Axcess I, LLC, and Brooklyn Axcess, LLC, respectively. Axcess I, LLC, and Brooklyn Axcess, LLC, are not signatories to the Axcess, Inc., shareholders agreement that contains the arbitration clause. Nevertheless, Garnick is estopped from avoiding arbitration with them based on the relatedness between Axcess, Inc., and its subsidiaries, Axcess I, LLC, and Brooklyn Axcess, LLC, and the agreements and controversies at issue, which are intertwined with the Axcess, Inc., shareholders agreement containing the arbitration clause, to which Garnick is a signatory. Matter of DeNobile v Panetta, 2018 NY Slip Op 07722, Second Dept 11-14-18

ARBITRATION (CONTRACT LAW, SIGNATORY TO AGREEMENT WITH AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE CANNOT AVOID ARBITRATION SIMPLY BECAUSE PARTIES ENTWINED IN THE PROCEEDINGS ARE NOT SIGNATORIES (SECOND DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (ARBITRATION, SIGNATORY TO AGREEMENT WITH AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE CANNOT AVOID ARBITRATION SIMPLY BECAUSE PARTIES ENTWINED IN THE PROCEEDINGS ARE NOT SIGNATORIES (SECOND DEPT))

ARBITRATION, CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONTRACT LAW.

ARBITRATION AWARD SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN VACATED, LIMITED COURT-REVIEW POWERS EXPLAINED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the arbitrator's award should have been confirmed. The dispute concerned a broker's fee provision in a lease. The arbitrator reasoned that the lease provision did not control because at the time the tenants bought the property the lease had expired and tenancy was month to month. The First Department explained the extremely limited court-review powers re: arbitration awards:

CPLR 7511 provides just four grounds for vacating an arbitration award, including that the arbitrator "exceeded his power" (CPLR 7511[b][1][iii]), which "occurs only where the arbitrator's award violates a strong public policy, is irrational or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's power"... . Mere errors of fact or law are insufficient to vacate an arbitral award ... . "[C]ourts are obligated to give deference to the decision of the arbitrator, ... even if the arbitrator misapplied the substantive law in the area of the contract" ... .

 

Here, the arbitrator's conclusion that a sales commission was not due under the precise terms of the Agreement because the lease was not extended is neither wholly irrational nor contrary to any strong public policy ... . Matter of NRT N.Y. LLC v Spell, 2018 NY Slip Op 07664, First Dept 11-13-18

ARBITRATION (ARBITRATION AWARD SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN VACATED, LIMITED COURT-REVIEW POWERS EXPLAINED (FIRST DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (ARBITRATION AWARD SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN VACATED, LIMITED COURT-REVIEW POWERS EXPLAINED (FIRST DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (ARBITRATION AWARD SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN VACATED, LIMITED COURT-REVIEW POWERS EXPLAINED (FIRST DEPT))

CONTRACT LAW, REAL ESTATE, CIVIL PROCEDURE, MUNICIPAL LAW.

PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT SEEKING SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE OF A REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT PROPERLY DISMISSED BASED UPON THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF DID NOT APPEAR AT EITHER SCHEDULED CLOSING AFTER SUBMITTING THE HIGHEST BID AND SIGNING THE CONTRACT (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the county's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint seeking specific performance, based on the language of the real estate purchase contract, should have been granted. Plaintiff was the highest bidder on real property and signed a purchase contract but did not appear on the closing dates:

... [W]e find that the terms and conditions of the contract of sale utterly refute the plaintiff's allegations and establish a defense as a matter of law. The contract clearly provides that the plaintiff's failure to close pursuant to the terms and conditions of sale will result in a forfeiture of the down payment; that in the event the closing is postponed at the plaintiff's request, then the adjourned date shall be deemed the final law date; that the plaintiff's failure to close on the final law date shall entitle the County to cancel the sale and to retain the down payment; and, in those circumstances, the plaintiff waives all claims of any right, title and interest in the subject property and the down payment. Additionally, the terms and conditions of the contract of sale demonstrate that a material fact claimed by the plaintiff—the alleged breach of contract by the County—is not a fact at all, and no significant dispute exists regarding it. Mahmood v County of Suffolk, 2018 NY Slip Op 07715, Second Dept 11-14-18

CONTRACT LAW (REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT SEEKING SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE OF A REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT PROPERLY DISMISSED BASED UPON THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF DID NOT APPEAR AT EITHER SCHEDULED CLOSING AFTER SUBMITTING THE HIGHEST BID AND SIGNING THE CONTRACT (SECOND DEPT))/REAL ESTATE  (REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT SEEKING SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE OF A REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT PROPERLY DISMISSED BASED UPON THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF DID NOT APPEAR AT EITHER SCHEDULED CLOSING AFTER SUBMITTING THE HIGHEST BID AND SIGNING THE CONTRACT (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT SEEKING SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE OF A REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT PROPERLY DISMISSED BASED UPON THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF DID NOT APPEAR AT EITHER SCHEDULED CLOSING AFTER SUBMITTING THE HIGHEST BID AND SIGNING THE CONTRACT (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW  (REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT SEEKING SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE OF A REAL ESTATE PURCHASE CONTRACT PROPERLY DISMISSED BASED UPON THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONTRACT, PLAINTIFF DID NOT APPEAR AT EITHER SCHEDULED CLOSING AFTER SUBMITTING THE HIGHEST BID AND SIGNING THE CONTRACT (SECOND DEPT))

CIVIL PROCEDURE.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION IS DETERMINED BY THE NATURE OF THE UNDERLYING ACTION, HERE CONVERSION AND FRAUD (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department noted that there is no specific statute of limitations for a declaratory judgment action the applicable limitations period is determined by the nature of the underlying action, here conversion and fraud:

"Actions for declaratory judgments are not ascribed a certain limitations period. The nature of the relief sought in a declaratory judgment action dictates the applicable limitations period. Thus, if the action for a declaratory judgment could have been brought in a different form asserting a particular cause of action, the limitations period applicable to the particular cause of action will apply" ... . Here, the cause of action for declaratory relief could have been brought, and essentially was brought, in the form of the causes of action to recover damages for conversion and fraud. Since this action was commenced more than three years from the date the alleged conversion took place, and more than six years from the commission of the alleged fraud or two years from the discovery of the alleged fraud, the declaratory judgment cause of action is time-barred ... . Schulman v Schulman, 2018 NY Slip Op 07770, Second Dept 11-14-18

CIVIL PROCEDURE (STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, DECLARATORY JUDGMENT, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION IS DETERMINED BY THE NATURE OF THE UNDERLYING ACTION, HERE CONVERSION AND FRAUD (SECOND DEPT))/STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS (DECLARATORY JUDGMENTS, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION IS DETERMINED BY THE NATURE OF THE UNDERLYING ACTION, HERE CONVERSION AND FRAUD (SECOND DEPT))/DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (CIVIL PROCEDURE, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION IS DETERMINED BY THE NATURE OF THE UNDERLYING ACTION, HERE CONVERSION AND FRAUD (SECOND DEPT))

CORPORATION LAW, CIVIL PROCEDURE, BANKING LAW, FIDUCIARY DUTY.

UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the shareholder derivative action against HSBC (bank) alleging breach of a fiduciary duty to implement money laundering prevention safeguards should not have been dismissed. The nominal defendant, HSBC Holdings, is organized under the laws of the United Kingdom and is headquartered in London. The motion to dismiss alleged the failure to seek permission for the action from the English High Court, as well as the failure to demonstrate the futility of seeking redress from the corporation, and the doctrine of forum non conveniens, required dismissal of the complaint. The Second Department held that the rule requiring permission of the English court was procedural and therefore the law of the forum (New York), not the United Kingdom, applied. The Second Department further held that the complaint demonstrated the futility of first seeking redress from the corporation and New York was the proper forum:

... [T]he Court of Appeals decided Davis v Scottish Re Group Ltd. (30 NY3d 247), which held that a Cayman Islands court rule requiring plaintiffs in shareholder derivative actions to first apply to the Cayman Islands Grand Court for leave to continue the action is a procedural rule of the Cayman Islands, and "therefore does not apply where, as here, a plaintiff seeks to litigate his derivative claims in New York" ... . ... Based upon the analysis set forth in Davis, we find that the judicial-permission requirement set forth in the UK Companies Act is a procedural rule applicable only in England and Wales, or Northern Ireland. ...

As an alternative ground for affirmance ... , the nominal defendants contend that the plaintiff lacks standing under New York law pursuant to Business Corporation Law § 626(c) because the amended complaint fails to allege that the plaintiff made efforts to secure initiation of the action by the board itself or set forth the reasons for not making such effort ... . * * * 

In view of the illegal purpose, magnitude, and duration of the alleged wrongdoing, as well as the identity of beneficiaries to the transactions, the allegations were such that the transactions should have come to the attention of senior management and the board of directors ... . * * *

... [G]iven that the allegations of wrongdoing occurred in New York, that only 21 of the 75 individual defendants live and work outside of New York, and that 3 of the nominal defendants are either incorporated or headquartered in New York, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in determining that the nominal defendants were not entitled to dismissal on the ground of forum non conveniens [CPLR 327]. Mason-Mahon v Flint, 2018 NY Slip Op 07716, Second Dept 11-14-18

CORPORATION LAW (UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (CORPORATION LAW, UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/BANKING LAW  (UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/FIDUCIARY DUTY (CORPORATION LAW, UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION (UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/MONEY LAUNDERING (BANKING LAW, UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/CPLR 327  (UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/BUSINESS CORPORATION LAW 626 (UK LAW REQUIRING COURT PERMISSION TO BRING A SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE ACTION WAS PROCEDURAL AND THEREFORE DID NOT APPLY IN THIS NEW YORK ACTION AGAINST LONDON-BASED HSBC FOR FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MONEY-LAUNDERING PROTECTIONS, COMPLAINT DEMONSTRATED THE FUTILITY OF FIRST SEEKING REDRESS FROM THE CORPORATION, DOCTRINE OF FORUM NON CONVENIENS DID NOT APPLY, COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, ATTORNEYS, EVIDENCE.

DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S CALLING OF 13 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THIS SHAKEN BABY CASE, DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO PRESENT EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION EVIDENCE DID NOT AMOUNT TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined defendant's motion to vacate her conviction on ineffective assistance grounds was properly denied. The prosecution presented 13 medical professional in support of its shaken baby case, but defense counsel did not present a medical expert:

 

Instead, trial counsel obtained the written report of a medical expert before the trial and retained a pediatric neurologist as a consulting expert, whom he consulted as issues arose during trial. During cross-examination of the People's witnesses, trial counsel elicited testimony that supported the defendant's theory of the case that the infant sustained injuries prior to being left at the defendant's home.  * * *

Generally, whether to call an expert is a tactical decision ... . In many instances, cross-examination of the People's expert will be sufficient to expose defects in an expert's presentation ... . "As long as the defense reflects a reasonable and legitimate strategy under the circumstances and evidence presented, even if unsuccessful, it will not fall to the level of ineffective assistance" ... . ...

The record shows that trial counsel made efforts to investigate the medical issues in this case. He effectively cross-examined the People's witnesses, including the experts, and elicited testimony that was damaging to the People's case. The fact that the defense did not call its own expert witnesses was the result of trial counsel's legal strategy that the best way to defend this case was through impeachment of the People's witnesses. Under the particular circumstances of this case, trial counsel provided effective representation ... . People v Caldavado, 2018 NY Slip Op 07743, Second Dept 11-14-18

CRIMINAL LAW (ATTORNEYS, EVIDENCE, DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S CALLING OF 13 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THIS SHAKEN BABY CASE, DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO PRESENT EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION EVIDENCE DID NOT AMOUNT TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (SECOND DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (CRIMINAL LAW, DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S CALLING OF 13 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THIS SHAKEN BABY CASE, DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO PRESENT EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION EVIDENCE DID NOT AMOUNT TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (SECOND DEPT))/INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE (DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S CALLING OF 13 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THIS SHAKEN BABY CASE, DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO PRESENT EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION EVIDENCE DID NOT AMOUNT TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (SECOND DEPT))/EVIDENCE (EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION, SHAKEN BABY CASE, DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S CALLING OF 13 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THIS SHAKEN BABY CASE, DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO PRESENT EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION EVIDENCE DID NOT AMOUNT TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (SECOND DEPT))/EXPERT OPINION (CRIMINAL LAW, SHAKEN BABY, DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S CALLING OF 13 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THIS SHAKEN BABY CASE, DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO PRESENT EXPERT MEDICAL OPINION EVIDENCE DID NOT AMOUNT TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (SECOND DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, ATTORNEYS, IMMIGRATION LAW.

DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, granting defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, determined defense counsel did not provide effective assistance on whether the guilty plea would result in deportation and there was a reasonable probability defendant would not have pled guilty had he been correctly informed. Defense counsel told the court that defendant was going to be deported based upon a prior offense, but the facts indicated otherwise:

The defendant, through his new counsel, subsequently made a timely motion to withdraw his plea, which was summarily denied by the County Court. Upon remittal from this Court, the County Court held a proceeding pursuant to People v Tinsley (35 NY2d 926) and, upon questioning the defendant, determined that he had not received effective assistance of counsel at the time of the plea. We discern no basis in the record to disturb the County Court's findings in this regard.

 

In order for the defendant to obtain vacatur of his plea of guilty based on Padilla v Kentucky (559 US 356), he must establish that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial  ... . Although the County Court did not specifically address this question in its report, the record is sufficient for us to conclude that, but for counsel's errors, there is a reasonable probability that the defendant—who has lived in the United States since the age of four and has significant family ties here, including a wife and three children, as well as parents and siblings—would not have pleaded guilty ... . People v Ghingoree, 2018 NY Slip Op 07748, Second Dept 11-14-18

CRIMINAL LAW (INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, IMMIGRATION LAW, DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/ATTORNEYS, CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE (CRIMINAL LAW, DEPORTATION, DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/IMMIGRATION LAW (CRIMINAL LAW, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, DEPORTATION, DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW (INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, IMMIGRATION LAW, DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/DEPORTATION (CRIMINAL LAW, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE,  DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CONCERNING THE POSSIBILITY OF DEPORTATION BASED UPON HIS GUILTY PLEA, MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE PLEA GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE.

THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO CONSIDER THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE IF THE JUSTIFICATION DEFENSE WAS PROVEN FOR THE HIGHER OFFENSE, THE JURY ALSO SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE 'TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON' DEFENSE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION REVERSED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing defendant's conviction, determined that the jury should have been instructed to stop deliberating on other counts if they found the justification defense to have been proven. The Second Department further determined that the facts justified a jury instruction on the temporary and innocent possession of a weapon:

Here, we agree with the defendant that the Supreme Court's jury charge in conjunction with the verdict sheet failed to convey to the jury that if it found the defendant not guilty based on justification as to assault in the first degree, then "it should simply render a verdict of acquittal and cease deliberation, without regard to" assault in the second degree ... . Thus, the court's instructions, together with the verdict sheet, may have led the jurors to conclude that deliberation on each assault count ... required reconsideration of the justification defense, even if they had already acquitted the defendant of assault in the first degree based on justification... . Since we cannot say with any certainty and there is no way of knowing whether the acquittal on assault in the first degree was based on a finding of justification, a new trial is necessary ... . In light of the defendant's acquittal on the charge of assault in the first degree, the highest offense for which the defendant may be retried is assault in the second degree ... . ...

Here, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant, the evidence sufficiently supported the defense of temporary and lawful possession of a weapon ... . The defendant testified that he picked up a kitchen knife from the floor only after Grandu jumped on his back, at which point Herron was hitting the defendant in the head with her hands and with a pan while Grandu restrained the defendant. Although the defendant then stabbed Grandu with the knife, "should a jury believe that the defendant's use of the knife was justified, such use would have been lawful, and not utterly at odds with [the defendant's] claim of" temporary and innocent possession ... . People v Fletcher, 2018 NY Slip Op 07747, Second Dept 11-14-18

CRIMINAL LAW (THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO CONSIDER THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE IF THE JUSTIFICATION DEFENSE WAS PROVEN FOR THE HIGHER OFFENSE, THE JURY ALSO SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE 'TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON' DEFENSE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/JURY INSTRUCTIONS (CRIMINAL LAW, THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO CONSIDER THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE IF THE JUSTIFICATION DEFENSE WAS PROVEN FOR THE HIGHER OFFENSE, THE JURY ALSO SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE 'TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON' DEFENSE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/JUSTIFICATION (CRIMINAL LAW, THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO CONSIDER THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE IF THE JUSTIFICATION DEFENSE WAS PROVEN FOR THE HIGHER OFFENSE, THE JURY ALSO SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE 'TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON' DEFENSE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON (CRIMINAL LAW, THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO CONSIDER THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE IF THE JUSTIFICATION DEFENSE WAS PROVEN FOR THE HIGHER OFFENSE, THE JURY ALSO SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE 'TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON' DEFENSE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/WEAPON, POSSESSION OF (THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO CONSIDER THE LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE IF THE JUSTIFICATION DEFENSE WAS PROVEN FOR THE HIGHER OFFENSE, THE JURY ALSO SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE 'TEMPORARY INNOCENT POSSESSION OF A WEAPON' DEFENSE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE.

POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing defendant's gang-related convictions, determined that the two police officers (Georg and Bracero) certified as experts in gang culture served as conduits for inadmissible testimonial hearsay and acted as summation witnesses usurping the jury's role of interpreting the evidence:

As a threshold matter, we note that Crawford does not bar the use of testimonial statements for purposes other than establishing the truth of the matter asserted (see Crawford v Washington, 541 US at 60 n 9...). Thus, "it is permissible for an expert witness to form an opinion by applying [his or] her expertise to otherwise inadmissible evidence because, in that limited instance, the evidence is not being presented for the truth of the matter asserted" ... .

Here ... information derived from the debriefing of arrested S.N.O.W. Gang members constitutes testimonial statements within the meaning of Crawford ... . The more difficult question presented is whether the substance of such statements was impermissibly conveyed to the jury by Georg and/or Bracero in the guise of expert testimony ... . We find that it was. ...

Separate and apart from the Crawford errors, Georg's testimony also ran afoul of the proscription against police experts acting as summation witnesses, straying from their proper function of aiding the jury in its factinding, and instead " instructing the jury on the existence of the facts needed to satisfy the elements of the charged offense'" (People v Inoa, 25 NY3d 466, 475, quoting United States v Mejia, 545 F3d at 191). During the trial, Georg read Facebook posts verbatim to the jury, offered commentary about the time of each post in relation to key events in the case, and connected evidence of the parties exchanging their phone numbers with records confirming that a call was subsequently placed. The defendant's counsel correctly objected to such testimony, citing Mejia and Inoa, on the ground that Georg was no longer acting as an expert witness but was usurping the jury's function by interpreting, summarizing, and marshaling the evidence. Unlike the Crawford violation, this type of error is nonconstitutional in nature ... . People v Jones, 2018 NY Slip Op 07752, Second Dept 11-14-18

CRIMINAL LAW (EVIDENCE, TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY, POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/HEARSAY (CRIMINAL LAW, TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY, POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY ( POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/CRAWFORD EVIDENCE, TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY, POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/EXPERT OPINION (CRIMINAL LAW, GANGS, TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY, POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/GANGS  (EVIDENCE, TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY, POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))/SUMMATION WITNESS (CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE, TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY, EXPERT OPINION, POLICE OFFICERS CERTIFIED AS GANG EXPERTS PRESENTED INADMISSIBLE TESTIMONIAL HEARSAY IN THE GUISE OF EXPERT OPINION, ONE OF THE OFFICERS ACTED AS A SUMMATION WITNESS USURPING THE JURY'S FUNCTION OF INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE, CONVICTIONS REVERSED (SECOND DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE.

EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT JOINED A CONSPIRACY TO MURDER WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT, MOTION FOR A TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing defendant's conspiracy conviction, determined the evidence of defendant's participation was legally insufficient:

... [T]he People in this case were required, inter alia, to establish that the defendant entered into an agreement that was specifically intended to result in the death of Friday (count one) and Morris (count two) ... . While the record evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the People, showed that the defendant conspired with others to retaliate against rival gang members for the recent shooting death of a member of the S.N.O.W. Gang, there was no direct or circumstantial evidence tying this defendant to any plan specifically intended to kill either Friday or Morris. Among other things, the defendant was not present at an alleged planning meeting in a park, at which many of the coconspirators were arrested. Moreover, the defendant is not listed as a participant in any social media discussions in which other S.N.O.W. Gang members named Friday and Morris as possible targets for retaliatory action. For this reason, the defendant's timely motion for a trial order of dismissal should have been granted, and the indictment dismissed insofar as asserted against him ... . People v Lucas, 2018 NY Slip Op 07755, Second Dept 11-14-18

CRIMINAL LAW (EVIDENCE, CONSPIRACY, EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT JOINED A CONSPIRACY TO MURDER WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT, MOTION FOR A TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, CONSPIRACY, EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT JOINED A CONSPIRACY TO MURDER WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT, MOTION FOR A TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/CONSPIRACY (EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT JOINED A CONSPIRACY TO MURDER WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT, MOTION FOR A TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT JOINED A CONSPIRACY TO MURDER WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT, MOTION FOR A TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL (CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT JOINED A CONSPIRACY TO MURDER WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT, MOTION FOR A TRIAL ORDER OF DISMISSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE.

DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing defendant's conviction, determined two evidentiary errors deprived defendant of a fair trial. Defendant was precluded from presenting evidence of a witness's motive to lie, and the evidence of prompt outcry should not have included the identity of the assailant:

It is well settled that " [t]he right of an accused in a criminal trial to due process is, in essence, the right to a fair opportunity to defend against the State's accusations' "... . "It is also well settled that in presenting the defense, counsel for the defendant may establish, during both cross[-]examination and on [defendant's] direct case, the [complainant's] . . . motive to lie . . . This is not a collateral inquiry, but is directly probative on the issue of credibility' " ... , "the excluded evidence was not speculative . . . or cumulative . . . , as it went directly to the credibility of the complainant[, and] the defense counsel offered a good faith basis for the excluded line of questioning [and evidence]." "Because it cannot be said that there is no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the verdict, the error cannot be deemed harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and reversal therefore is required" ... .

 

Defendant also correctly contends that the court erred in permitting the People to present prompt outcry testimony that exceeded the proper scope of such testimony. Although "evidence that a victim of sexual assault promptly complained about the incident is admissible to corroborate the allegation that an assault took place" ... , such evidence is limited to "only the fact of a complaint, not its accompanying details," including the identity of the assailant ... . We thus conclude that the court erred in permitting two of the three prompt outcry witnesses to testify concerning the identity of the alleged assailant ... .

 

We thus conclude that either error, alone, would justify reversal and that the cumulative effect of the errors denied defendant a fair trial ... . People v Vo, 2018 NY Slip Op 07909, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

CRIMINAL LAW (EVIDENCE, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/LIE, MOTIVE TO (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/PROMPT OUTCRY (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/HEARSAY (CRIMINAL LAW, PROMPT OUTCRY, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/IDENTIFICATION (CRIMINAL LAW, PROMPT OUTCRY,  DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A WITNESS'S MOTIVE TO LIE, PROMPT OUTCRY EVIDENCE SHOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT, CONVICTION REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE.

FOUR TRAMADOL PILLS DID NOT CONSTITUTE DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, PROMOTING PRISON CONTRABAND FIRST DEGREE REDUCED TO SECOND DEGREE (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Curran, determined the Tramadol pills possessed by the inmate defendant did not constitute dangerous contraband, requiring a reduction of the conviction from promoting prison contraband first degree to second degree. The Fourth Department disagreed with the cases from other departments which held small amounts of drugs to constituted dangerous contraband:

The Court of Appeals in People v Finley (10 NY3d 647 [2008]) considered the unrelated prosecutions of two inmates for promoting and attempted promoting prison contraband in the first degree, both involving small amounts of marihuana. The Court pronounced the test for courts to apply: "[T]he test for determining whether an item is dangerous contraband is whether its particular characteristics are such that there is a substantial probability that the item will be used in a manner that is likely to cause death or other serious injury, to facilitate an escape, or to bring about other major threats to a detention facility's institutional safety or security" (id. at 657). * * *

We recognize that, after Finley was decided, some courts have considered cases involving the possession of drugs other than marihuana and have concluded that the possessed drugs were dangerous contraband on what may be viewed as less "specific, competent proof" of a substantial probability that the item will be used in a manner that is likely to cause death or other serious injury, to facilitate an escape, or to bring about other major threats ... . For example, testimony that the defendants were engaged in drug trafficking has been held to be sufficient to establish that there was dangerous contraband (see e.g. People v Ariosa, 100 AD3d 1264, 1265-1266 [3d Dept 2012], lv denied 21 NY3d 1013 [2013]; People v Cooper, 67 AD3d 1254, 1256-1257 [3d Dept 2009], lv denied 14 NY3d 799 [2010]). We disagree with those cases to the extent that they do not focus on the dangerousness of the use of the particular drug at issue, but instead focus on broad concerns that could involve any sort of contraband, such as alcohol, cigarettes or other items that are not dangerous in themselves ... . People v Flagg, 2018 NY Slip Op 07849, Fourth Dept (11-16-18

CRIMINAL LAW (FOUR TRAMADOL PILLS DID NOT CONSTITUTE DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, PROMOTING PRISON CONTRABAND FIRST DEGREE REDUCED TO SECOND DEGREE (FOURTH DEPT))/EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, FOUR TRAMADOL PILLS DID NOT CONSTITUTE DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, PROMOTING PRISON CONTRABAND FIRST DEGREE REDUCED TO SECOND DEGREE (FOURTH DEPT))/DANGEROUS CONTRABAND (CRIMINAL LAW, FOUR TRAMADOL PILLS DID NOT CONSTITUTE DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, PROMOTING PRISON CONTRABAND FIRST DEGREE REDUCED TO SECOND DEGREE (FOURTH DEPT))/INMATES (CRIMINAL LAW, CONTRABAND, FOUR TRAMADOL PILLS DID NOT CONSTITUTE DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, PROMOTING PRISON CONTRABAND FIRST DEGREE REDUCED TO SECOND DEGREE (FOURTH DEPT))/CONTRABAND (CRIMINAL LAW, INMATES, FOUR TRAMADOL PILLS DID NOT CONSTITUTE DANGEROUS CONTRABAND, PROMOTING PRISON CONTRABAND FIRST DEGREE REDUCED TO SECOND DEGREE (FOURTH DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (SORA). ADMINISTRATIVE LAW.

STATUTE PROHIBITING LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING SCHOOL GROUNDS APPLIES TO ALL LEVEL THREE OFFENDERS, NOT ONLY THOSE INCARCERATED FOR AN ENUMERATED SEX CRIME AT THE TIME OF THEIR RELEASE ON PAROLE, HERE THE PETITIONER HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ADJUDICATED A LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER BUT WAS BEING PAROLED AFTER INCARCERATION FOR A ROBBERY CONVICTION (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Troutman, determined that the Executive Law provision which prohibits level three sex offenders from entering school grounds applies to all level three sex offenders, not only those who are incarcerated for one of the enumerated sex crimes at the time they are released on parole. Petitioner was convicted of rape and adjudicated a level three offender in 1994. Subsequently petition was convicted of and incarcerated for robbery, which is not one of the enumerated crimes. The court noted that it was not, under administrative law principles, required to defer to the Board of Parole's ruling, but nevertheless it agreed with the ruling and Supreme Court's denial of the petition. The Fourth Department found the statute is ambiguous applying statutory-construction rules and then turned to the legislative history of the statute (Executive Law 259-c (14)):

When Executive Law § 259-c (14) was first enacted, the school grounds mandatory condition applied only to persons serving a sentence for an enumerated offense against a minor ... . In 2005, the legislature amended the statute to add the reference to level three sex offenders ... . The sponsors' memorandum defined the purpose of that amendment: "To prohibit sex offenders placed on conditional release or parole from entering upon school grounds or other facilities where the individual has been designated as a level three sex offender" ... . As justification, the sponsors offered: "There is a need to prohibit those sex offenders who are determined to pose the most risk to children from entering upon school grounds or other areas where children are cared for" ... . ...

Based on our review of the legislative history relating to the enactment of the relevant amendment to Executive Law § 259-c (14), we conclude that there existed a consensus among governmental and nongovernmental organizations that, for good or ill, the amended language was intended to extend the school grounds mandatory condition to all persons conditionally released or released to parole who have been designated level three sex offender. People ex rel. Garcia v Annucci, 2018 NY Slip Op 07868, Fourth Dept 11-16-18 

CRIMINAL LAW (STATUTE PROHIBITING LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING SCHOOL GROUNDS APPLIES TO ALL LEVEL THREE OFFENDERS, NOT ONLY THOSE INCARCERATED FOR AN ENUMERATED SEX CRIME AT THE TIME OF THEIR RELEASE ON PAROLE, HERE THE PETITIONER HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ADJUDICATED A LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER BUT WAS BEING PAROLED AFTER INCARCERATION FOR A ROBBERY CONVICTION (FOURTH DEPT))/SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (SORA)  (STATUTE PROHIBITING LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING SCHOOL GROUNDS APPLIES TO ALL LEVEL THREE OFFENDERS, NOT ONLY THOSE INCARCERATED FOR AN ENUMERATED SEX CRIME AT THE TIME OF THEIR RELEASE ON PAROLE, HERE THE PETITIONER HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ADJUDICATED A LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER BUT WAS BEING PAROLED AFTER INCARCERATION FOR A ROBBERY CONVICTION (FOURTH DEPT))/PAROLE (SEX OFFENDERS, STATUTE PROHIBITING LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING SCHOOL GROUNDS APPLIES TO ALL LEVEL THREE OFFENDERS, NOT ONLY THOSE INCARCERATED FOR AN ENUMERATED SEX CRIME AT THE TIME OF THEIR RELEASE ON PAROLE, HERE THE PETITIONER HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ADJUDICATED A LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER BUT WAS BEING PAROLED AFTER INCARCERATION FOR A ROBBERY CONVICTION (FOURTH DEPT))/SCHOOL GROUNDS (SEX OFFENDERS, PAROLE, STATUTE PROHIBITING LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING SCHOOL GROUNDS APPLIES TO ALL LEVEL THREE OFFENDERS, NOT ONLY THOSE INCARCERATED FOR AN ENUMERATED SEX CRIME AT THE TIME OF THEIR RELEASE ON PAROLE, HERE THE PETITIONER HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ADJUDICATED A LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER BUT WAS BEING PAROLED AFTER INCARCERATION FOR A ROBBERY CONVICTION (FOURTH DEPT))EXECUTIVE LAW (SEX OFFENDERS, SCHOOL GROUNDS, PAROLE, STATUTE PROHIBITING LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING SCHOOL GROUNDS APPLIES TO ALL LEVEL THREE OFFENDERS, NOT ONLY THOSE INCARCERATED FOR AN ENUMERATED SEX CRIME AT THE TIME OF THEIR RELEASE ON PAROLE, HERE THE PETITIONER HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ADJUDICATED A LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER BUT WAS BEING PAROLED AFTER INCARCERATION FOR A ROBBERY CONVICTION (FOURTH DEPT))

DEBTOR-CREDITOR, CONTRACT LAW.

DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court determined plaintiff should have given defendant the opportunity to cure an inadvertent failure to make a monthly payment pursuant to stipulation of settlement. Defendant had repaid much of the debt and, based on the default, would owe more than twice the amount that remained to be paid: 

... Supreme Court should have granted the alternate branch of the defendant's motion, which was, in effect, to preclude the plaintiff from enforcing the default provision of the stipulation without affording the defendant a reasonable opportunity to cure his default. "Under almost any given state of facts, where to enforce a stipulation would be unjust or inequitable or permit the other party to gain an unconscionable advantage, courts will afford relief" ... .

 

Here, the defendant's default was inadvertent and minor in nature when measured against the harsh result that would be obtained upon literal enforcement of the default provision in the stipulation... . Insofar as the plaintiff failed to offer the defendant any opportunity to cure his default before seeking to recover the full amount due under the judgment, the plaintiff's conduct could be interpreted as an attempt to take advantage of a technical default to obtain payment of the far greater sum which the plaintiff had originally sought, but agreed to forgo as part of the settlement ... . RCS Recovery Servs., LLC v Mensah, 2018 NY Slip Op 07766, Second Dept 11-14-18

DEBTOR-CREDITOR (DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT))/STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT (DEBTOR-CREDITOR, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT))/LOANS  (DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT))/DEFAULT (LOAN PAYMENTS, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT))/CURE (LOANS, DEFAULT, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CURE A DEFAULT IN MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON A LOAN BEFORE PLAINTIFF SOUGHT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN DEFENDANT OWING MORE THAN TWICE WHAT REMAINED TO BE PAID (SECOND DEPT))

DEBTOR-CREDITOR, CONTRACT LAW.

VOLUNTARY PAYMENT OF CERTAIN CHARGES ASSESSED IN CONNECTION WITH REFINANCING MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR LOANS WARRANTED DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT WHICH ALLEGED THE CHARGES WERE UNENFORCEABLE PENALTIES AND WERE PAID UNDER DURESS (FIRST SEPT).

The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Mazzarelli, affirmed the dismissal of a complaint alleging certain payments made in connection with refinancing multi-million dollar loans were unenforceable penalties and were paid under duress. The opinion is too detailed to fairly summarize here. The central issue was whether the voluntary payment of the charges in question without protest, i.e., the voluntary payment doctrine, warranted dismissal of the complaint. The issues were described as follows:

The relative sophistication of the parties is not a factor to be considered in assessing a claim of economic duress ... . Economic duress exists where a party is compelled to agree to terms set by another party because of a wrongful threat by the other party that prevents it from exercising its free will. Accordingly, our analysis consists of two prongs: first, whether Blackrock's [defendant's] decision to demand the late charge and extra interest payment was lawful, that is, based on rights enumerated in the agreement; and second, if it was not, whether the demand placed plaintiff in a position such that it had no other choice but to accede. With respect to the first prong, Blackrock [argues] that, because the mezzanine loan agreement is part of the record, we can decide, even at this procedural posture, that, as a matter of law, the charges were not wrongful. ... Defendant argues that ... the agreement plainly establishes that it had the right to make the demand it did. Plaintiff, in contrast, asserts that the late charge provision is, at the very least, ambiguous with respect to how Blackrock was to calculate the charge, and that, even if the calculation was correct, it constitutes an unenforceable penalty. Beltway 7 & Props., Ltd. v Blackrock Realty Advisers, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 07844, First Dept 11-15-18

DEBTOR-CREDITOR (VOLUNTARY PAYMENT OF CERTAIN CHARGES ASSESSED IN CONNECTION WITH REFINANCING MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR LOANS WARRANTED DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT WHICH ALLEGED THE CHARGES WERE UNENFORCEABLE PENALTIES AND WERE PAID UNDER DURESS (FIRST SEPT))/VOLUNTARY PAYMENT DOCTRINE (DEBTOR-CREDITOR, CONTRACT LAW, (VOLUNTARY PAYMENT OF CERTAIN CHARGES ASSESSED IN CONNECTION WITH REFINANCING MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR LOANS WARRANTED DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT WHICH ALLEGED THE CHARGES WERE UNENFORCEABLE PENALTIES AND WERE PAID UNDER DURESS (FIRST SEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (DEBTOR-CREDITOR, VOLUNTARY PAYMENT OF CERTAIN CHARGES ASSESSED IN CONNECTION WITH REFINANCING MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR LOANS WARRANTED DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT WHICH ALLEGED THE CHARGES WERE UNENFORCEABLE PENALTIES AND WERE PAID UNDER DURESS (FIRST SEPT))

DEFAMATION, CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON DEFENDANTS' WEBSITE DID NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF THREATENING SPEECH THAT WOULD ALLOW PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION NOT GRANTED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department determined the criteria for prior restraint of speech were not met in this action to impose a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order prohibiting the publishing of accusations against plaintiff and offensive images on defendants' website:

Plaintiff, a law professor, sat on the appellate panel of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) that affirmed the lifetime ban imposed on two stockbrokers, nonparties Talman Harris and William Scholander. Defendants allegedly control a website known as TheBlot, a tabloid-style platform that has published a substantial quantity of material attacking FINRA's ban of Harris and Scholander and the FINRA personnel, including plaintiff, who were involved in adjudicating that case. The attacks on plaintiff have included — in addition to name-calling, ridicule and various scurrilous accusations — juxtapositions of plaintiff's likeness to graphic images of the lynching of African Americans, and statements that the banning of Harris, who is African American, constituted a "lynching."

 

In this action, plaintiff, who is also African American, seeks, as here relevant, an injunction against the posting on TheBlot of material attacking or libeling him. In this regard, he argues that the lynching images posted alongside photographs of him on TheBlot should be understood as a threat of violence against himself. ...

... [T]he preliminary injunction can be affirmed only if it enjoins a "true threat" against plaintiff ... . We find, however, that the speech at issue, as offensive as it is, cannot reasonably be construed as truly threatening or inciting violence against plaintiff. Rather, the lynching imagery at issue was plainly intended to draw a grotesque analogy between lynching and FINRA's banning of Harris, who is an African American (and is identified as such in the posts) ... . While this analogy is incendiary and highly inappropriate, plaintiff has not established that any reasonable viewer would have understood the posts as threatening or calling for violence against him. Moreover, even if the posts could reasonably be construed as advocating unlawful conduct, plaintiff has not established that any "such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action" ... . Brummer v Wey, 2018 NY Slip Op 07843, First Dept 11-15-18

DEFAMATION (MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON DEFENDANTS' WEBSITE DID NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF THREATENING SPEECH THAT WOULD ALLOW PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION WAS NOT GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (DEFAMATION, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON DEFENDANTS' WEBSITE DID NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF THREATENING SPEECH THAT WOULD ALLOW PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION WAS NOT GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (FREE SPEECH, PRIOR RESTRAINT, MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON DEFENDANTS' WEBSITE DID NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF THREATENING SPEECH THAT WOULD ALLOW PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION WAS NOT GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/FREE SPEECH (PRIOR RESTRAINT, (MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON DEFENDANTS' WEBSITE DID NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF THREATENING SPEECH THAT WOULD ALLOW PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION WAS NOT GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/PRIOR RESTRAINT (FREE SPEECH, (MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON DEFENDANTS' WEBSITE DID NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF THREATENING SPEECH THAT WOULD ALLOW PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION WAS NOT GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))

EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW, NEGLIGENCE, MUNICIPAL LAW.

PLAINTIFF STUDENT INJURED WHEN GYMNASIUM DOOR CLOSED ON HIS FINGER, INADEQUATE SUPERVISION WAS NOT THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE INJURY, CITY IS NOT LIABLE FOR TORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, NOTICE OF CLAIM DID NOT INCLUDE ALLEGATION THAT THE DOOR WAS DEFECTIVE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined plaintiff student's negligent supervision cause of action against the city and the school district was properly dismissed. The city cannot be liable for the torts of the Department of Education. The student was injured when the gymnasium door closed on his finger. Negligent supervision was not the proximate cause of the injuries because the injury happened so fast. The theory that the door was defective was not included in the notice of claim and could not be raised to defeat summary judgment:

Although schools have a duty to provide supervision to ensure the safety of those in their charge ... , schools will be held liable only for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision ... . When an accident occurs in so short a span of time that even the most intense supervision could not have prevented it, lack of supervision is not the proximate cause of the injury ... .

 

Here, the defendants made a prima facie showing of the DOE's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the negligent supervision cause of action by establishing that any alleged inadequacy in the level of supervision was not a proximate cause of the accident ... . ...

The plaintiffs' allegation that the subject door was negligently maintained does not defeat the defendants' motion. Since this theory of liability was not included in the notice of claim or the complaint ... , and there was nothing in the notice of claim that would provide notice to the defendants about this allegation ... , it does not raise a triable issue of fact to defeat the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, the plaintiffs did not seek leave to amend the notice of claim pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50-e ... . K.B. v City of New York, 2018 NY Slip Op 07710, Second Dept 11-14-18

EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW (NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION, PLAINTIFF STUDENT INJURED WHEN GYMNASIUM DOOR CLOSED ON HIS FINGER, INADEQUATE SUPERVISION WAS NOT THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE INJURY, CITY IS NOT LIABLE FOR TORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, NOTICE OF CLAIM DID NOT INCLUDE ALLEGATION THAT THE DOOR WAS DEFECTIVE (SECOND DEPT))/NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION (EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW, PLAINTIFF STUDENT INJURED WHEN GYMNASIUM DOOR CLOSED ON HIS FINGER, INADEQUATE SUPERVISION WAS NOT THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE INJURY, CITY IS NOT LIABLE FOR TORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, NOTICE OF CLAIM DID NOT INCLUDE ALLEGATION THAT THE DOOR WAS DEFECTIVE (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW, NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION, PLAINTIFF STUDENT INJURED WHEN GYMNASIUM DOOR CLOSED ON HIS FINGER, INADEQUATE SUPERVISION WAS NOT THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE INJURY, CITY IS NOT LIABLE FOR TORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, NOTICE OF CLAIM DID NOT INCLUDE ALLEGATION THAT THE DOOR WAS DEFECTIVE (SECOND DEPT))/NOTICE OF CLAIM  (EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW, NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION, PLAINTIFF STUDENT INJURED WHEN GYMNASIUM DOOR CLOSED ON HIS FINGER, INADEQUATE SUPERVISION WAS NOT THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE INJURY, CITY IS NOT LIABLE FOR TORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, NOTICE OF CLAIM DID NOT INCLUDE ALLEGATION THAT THE DOOR WAS DEFECTIVE (SECOND DEPT))

EMPLOYMENT LAW, LABOR LAW, FRAUD.

LAID OFF AT-WILL EMPLOYEE'S WHISTLEBLOWER (LABOR LAW 740) AND FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT CAUSES OF ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined plaintiff's whistleblower (Labor Law 740) and fraudulent inducement causes of action were properly dismissed. Plaintiff's allegations did not meet the statutory criteria of Labor Law 740 and at-will employees who are laid off generally can not bring an action alleging fraudulent inducement:

[Labor Law 740] provides, in relevant part, that "[a]n employer shall not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because such employee . . . discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that is in violation of law, rule or regulation" that either "creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or . . . constitutes health care fraud" (Labor Law § 740[2][a]).

 

While the plaintiff in a whistleblower action must prove, at trial, that an actual violation of law, rule, or regulation occurred ... , it is not necessary, for pleading purposes, that the plaintiff identify in the complaint the specific law, rule, or regulation that the defendant allegedly violated ... .

 

Here, while the amended complaint sufficiently alleges a violation of law, rule, or regulation, it fails to allege any substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety resulting from such violation ... . ...

"New York law is clear that absent a constitutionally impermissible purpose, a statutory proscription, or an express limitation in the individual contract of employment, an employer's right at any time to terminate an employment at will remains unimpaired," and the Court of Appeals has "repeatedly refused to recognize exceptions to, or pathways around, these principles" ... . Hence, as a general rule, at-will employees may not claim that they were induced to accept their position based on the belief that they would enjoy continued employment ..., "even where the circumstances pertain to a plaintiff's acceptance of an offer of a position rather than his or her termination" ... . Since the plaintiff failed to allege any injury independent of termination of her employment, she cannot recover damages for what is, at most, an alleged breach of contract in the guise of a tort ... . Coyle v College of Westchester, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 07699, Second Dept 11-14-18

 

EMPLOYMENT LAW (LAID OFF AT-WILL EMPLOYEE'S WHISTLEBLOWER (LABOR LAW 740) AND FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT CAUSES OF ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/WHISTLEBLOWERS  (LAID OFF AT-WILL EMPLOYEE'S WHISTLEBLOWER (LABOR LAW 740) AND FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT CAUSES OF ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/LABOR LAW 740 (WHISTLEBLOWERS, LAID OFF AT-WILL EMPLOYEE'S WHISTLEBLOWER (LABOR LAW 740) AND FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT CAUSES OF ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT (EMPLOYMENT LAW, AT-WILL EMPLOYEE, (LAID OFF AT-WILL EMPLOYEE'S WHISTLEBLOWER (LABOR LAW 740) AND FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT CAUSES OF ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/AT-WILL EMPLOYEES  (LAID OFF AT-WILL EMPLOYEE'S WHISTLEBLOWER (LABOR LAW 740) AND FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT CAUSES OF ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))

EMPLOYMENT LAW, CONTRACT LAW, NEGLIGENCE, CIVIL PROCEDURE.

VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant employer should not have been allowed to amend its answer to assert a release from liability for plaintiff's injury based on plaintiff's signing a "Volunteer Agreement." The Volunteer Agreement purported to release the employer from any liability for injury to plaintiff on the job. Plaintiff was struck by a forklift operated by defendant's employee. The release violated public policy:

While leave to amend a pleading should be freely granted unless the proposed amendment is palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit (see CPLR 3025[b] ...), here, the proposed amendment was patently devoid of merit ... . New York courts have long found agreements between an employer and an employee attempting to exonerate the employer from liability for future negligence whether of itself or its employees or limiting its liability on account of such negligence void as against public policy ... .

As observed by the Court of Appeals more than a century ago, "[t]he state is interested in the conservation of the lives and of the healthful vigor of its citizens, and if employers could contract away their responsibility at common law, it would tend to encourage on their part laxity of conduct in, if not an indifference to, the maintenance of proper and reasonable safeguards to human life and limb" ... . Contrary to the defendant's contentions, the public policy considerations applicable to paid employees also apply to a volunteer employee, such as the plaintiff herein. The purported release contained in the "Volunteer Agreement" is void as against public policy. Richardson v Island Harvest, Ltd., 2018 NY Slip Op 07768, Second Dept 11-14-18

EMPLOYMENT LAW (VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (EMPLOYMENT LAW, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/NEGLIGENCE (EMPLOYMENT LAW, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/RELEASE (NEGLIGENCE, EMPLOYMENT LAW, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT (EMPLOYMENT LAW, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (AMEND ANSWER, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/CPLR 3025 (AMEND ANSWER, (EMPLOYMENT LAW, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/ANSWER (AMEND, (EMPLOYMENT LAW, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT WHICH PURPORTED TO RELEASE DEFENDANT EMPLOYER FROM LIABILITY FOR PLAINTIFF'S ON THE JOB INJURY WAS VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY, MOTION TO AMEND THE ANSWER TO ASSERT THE RELEASE AS A DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

FAMILY LAW.

DESPITE FATHER'S PRO SE MOTION SEEKING VISITATION, NO PROVISION FOR VISITATION WAS MADE IN THE CUSTODY ORDER, MATTER REMANDED FOR A HEARING (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, remanding the matter for a hearing in Family Court, noted that the final custody order did not make any provision for visitation:

... [T]he final custody order did not make any provision for visitation, and the father's pro se motion explicitly sought visitation with the child. Family Court implicitly denied this request without providing any rationale. Visitation is a joint right of the child and noncustodial parent and, absent "exceptional circumstances," it "follows almost as a matter of course," and is presumed to be in the child's best interest ... . The record of the custody hearing established that the father had regular unsupervised and overnight visitation with the child throughout the prolonged custody proceedings, although there were some late pickups and missed visits in the months before the custody order was issued. We note the child's attorney represents that the child strongly wishes to resume visits with the father ... . Matter of Jolanda K. v Damian B., 2018 NY Slip Op 07675, First Dept 11-13-18

FAMILY LAW (VISITATION, DESPITE FATHER'S PRO SE MOTION SEEKING VISITATION, NO PROVISION FOR VISITATION WAS MADE IN THE CUSTODY ORDER, MATTER REMANDED FOR A HEARING (FIRST DEPT))/VISITATION (FAMILY LAW, DESPITE FATHER'S PRO SE MOTION SEEKING VISITATION, NO PROVISION FOR VISITATION WAS MADE IN THE CUSTODY ORDER, MATTER REMANDED FOR A HEARING (FIRST DEPT))

FAMILY LAW, APPEALS.

FAMILY COURT DID NOT MAKE FACTUAL FINDINGS IN SUPPORT OF ITS GRANT OF SOLE CUSTODY, MATTER REMITTED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department reversed Family Court's custody ruling because the ruling was not supported by factual findings. The matter was remitted:

It is "well established that the court is obligated to set forth those facts essential to its decision' " (...see CPLR 4213 [b]; Family Ct Act § 165 [a]). Here, the court utterly failed to follow that well-established rule inasmuch as it made no findings to support its determination. "Effective appellate review, whatever the case but especially in child visitation, custody or neglect proceedings, requires that appropriate factual findings be made by the trial court—the court best able to measure the credibility of the witnesses" ... . We therefore reverse the order, reinstate the mother's petition, and remit the matter to Family Court to make a determination on the petitions, including specific findings as to a change in circumstances and the best interests of the child, following an additional hearing if necessary ... . Matter of Brown v Orr, 2018 NY Slip Op 07905, Fourth Dept 11-16-28

FAMILY LAW (CUSTODY, APPEALS, FAMILY COURT DID NOT MAKE FACTUAL FINDINGS IN SUPPORT OF ITS GRANT OF SOLE CUSTODY, MATTER REMITTED (FOURTH DEPT))/CUSTODY (FAMILY LAW, APPEALS, FAMILY COURT DID NOT MAKE FACTUAL FINDINGS IN SUPPORT OF ITS GRANT OF SOLE CUSTODY, MATTER REMITTED (FOURTH DEPT))/APPEALS (FAMILY LAW, CUSTODY, FAMILY COURT DID NOT MAKE FACTUAL FINDINGS IN SUPPORT OF ITS GRANT OF SOLE CUSTODY, MATTER REMITTED (FOURTH DEPT))/CUSTODY (FAMILY LAW, APPEALS, FAMILY COURT DID NOT MAKE FACTUAL FINDINGS IN SUPPORT OF ITS GRANT OF SOLE CUSTODY, MATTER REMITTED (FOURTH DEPT))

FAMILY LAW, ATTORNEYS.

FATHER DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THIS MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, SUPREME COURT REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined father was denied his right to counsel in this maintenance, child support, eduction and medical expense arrears proceeding:

We agree with the father that he was denied his right to counsel at the hearing to determine whether he was in willful violation of the support order ... . Supreme Court "failed to inform the father of his right to have counsel assigned if he could not afford to retain an attorney" ... , and failed to grant the father an adjournment at the outset of the second day of the hearing when he requested the assistance of counsel ... . To the extent that the father thereafter chose to proceed pro se, the court also failed to "engage the father in the requisite searching inquiry concerning his decision to proceed pro se and thereby ensure that the father was knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waiving his right to counsel" ... . Villella v Villella, 2018 NY Slip Op 07917, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

FAMILY LAW (ATTORNEYS, FATHER DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THIS MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, SUPREME COURT REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (FAMILY LAW, RIGHT TO COUNSEL, FATHER DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THIS MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, SUPREME COURT REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))/RIGHT TO COUNSEL (FAMILY LAW, FATHER DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THIS MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, SUPREME COURT REVERSED (FOURTH DEPT))

FAMILY LAW, EVIDENCE.

EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT NEGLECT FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SHELTER, EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATED THE HOME WAS IN DISARRAY BUT NOT THAT IT WAS UNSANITARY OR UNSAFE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined the evidence did not support the finding that mother neglected the child by failing to provide adequate shelter:

We agree with the Family Court's finding that the petitioner established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the mother failed to provide the child with proper supervision and guardianship. The evidence demonstrated that she placed the child in near proximity to narcotics and to the very dangerous activity of narcotics trafficking, which posed an imminent danger to the child's physical, mental, and emotional well-being... .

 

However, we disagree with the Family Court's finding that the petitioner established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the mother neglected the child by failing to supply the child with adequate shelter based on the unsanitary conditions of the home. While the evidence adduced at the fact-finding hearing demonstrated that the home was in a general state of disarray, it did not establish unsanitary or unsafe conditions such that the child's physical, mental, or emotional condition was impaired or in imminent danger of impairment ... . Matter of Majesty M. (Brandy P.), 2018 NY Slip Op 07726, Second Dept 11-14-18

FAMILY LAW (NEGLECT, EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT NEGLECT FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SHELTER, EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATED THE HOME WAS IN DISARRAY BUT NOT THAT IT WAS UNSANITARY OR UNSAFE (SECOND DEPT))/EVIDENCE (FAMILY LAW, NEGLECT, EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT NEGLECT FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SHELTER, EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATED THE HOME WAS IN DISARRAY BUT NOT THAT IT WAS UNSANITARY OR UNSAFE (SECOND DEPT))/NEGLECT (EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT NEGLECT FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SHELTER, EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATED THE HOME WAS IN DISARRAY BUT NOT THAT IT WAS UNSANITARY OR UNSAFE (SECOND DEPT))

FAMILY LAW, JUDGES.

FAMILY COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE LEFT SCHEDULING SUPERVISED THERAPEUTIC PARENTAL ACCESS TO THE PARTIES (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined Family Court should not have left it to the parties to work out mother's supervised therapeutic parental access:

Here, the Family Court's determination that there had been a change in circumstances and that it was in the children's best interests to award the father sole legal and residential custody, with the mother's access limited to supervised therapeutic parental access is supported by a sound and substantial basis in the record and, thus, will not be disturbed ... .

 

However, the Family Court should have set forth in its order a schedule and designated a provider for supervised therapeutic parental access, rather than implicitly delegating the resolution of those issues to the parties ... . Accordingly, we remit the matter to the Family Court, Orange County, to forthwith set an appropriate schedule and select a provider for the mother's supervised therapeutic parental access with the children. Matter of Thomas R.K. v Tamara S.K., 2018 NY Slip Op 07725, Second Dept 11-14-18

FAMILY LAW (FAMILY COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE LEFT SCHEDULING SUPERVISED THERAPEUTIC PARENTAL ACCESS TO THE PARTIES (SECOND DEPT))/JUDGES (FAMILY LAW, FAMILY COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE LEFT SCHEDULING SUPERVISED THERAPEUTIC PARENTAL ACCESS TO THE PARTIES (SECOND DEPT))/DELEGATION OF JUDICIAL DUTIES (FAMILY COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE LEFT SCHEDULING SUPERVISED THERAPEUTIC PARENTAL ACCESS TO THE PARTIES (SECOND DEPT))

FAMILY LAW, ATTORNEYS.

LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department affirmed Family Court's denial of father's petition for downward modification of maintenance and support and the rejection of father's claim he was denied effective assistance of counsel. The court noted that father did not demonstrate he was not at fault for losing his job and that, because father did not have a right to counsel for these proceedings, he was required to show extraordinary circumstances in support of his ineffective assistance claim:

A party seeking a downward modification of his or her spousal maintenance and child support obligations set forth in a judgment of divorce must establish a substantial change in circumstances ... . Loss of employment may constitute a substantial change in circumstances where the termination occurred through no fault of the party seeking modification and he or she diligently sought re-employment commensurate with his or her earning capacity... . Here, the father failed to establish that the termination of his employment did not occur though his own fault ... , or that he diligently sought new employment commensurate with his qualifications and experience. Accordingly, we agree with the Family Court's denial of the father's objections to the Support Magistrate's finding that the father was not entitled to a downward modification of his support obligations... .

 

The father contends that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Since the father did not have the right to assigned counsel in this support modification proceeding... , he must establish the existence of extraordinary circumstances in order for his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel to be entertained... . Here, the father failed to establish the existence of any extraordinary circumstances to warrant entertaining such a claim ... . Matter of Berg v Berg, 2018 NY Slip Op 07720, Second Dept 11-14-18

FAMILY LAW (MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT, LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT))/MAINTENANCE (FAMILY LAW, LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT))/SUPPORT FAMILY LAW, LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (FAMILY LAW, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT))/INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE (FAMILY LAW, LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT))/RIGHT TO COUNSEL (FAMILY LAW, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT DID NOT JUSTIFY DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT, NO SHOWING FATHER WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR LOSING THE JOB, BECAUSE FATHER DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN THESE PROCEEDINGS, HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE ARGUMENT MUST BE BASED UPON EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WERE NOT DEMONSTRATED (SECOND DEPT))

FAMILY LAW, JUDGES, APPEALS.

ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Family Court, determined that the Family Court judge exhibited bias against the father in this maintenance and support arrears proceeding and the matter was remitted to Family Court before a different judge. Although father had completed the period of incarceration imposed, the commitment order was deemed appealable because of the stigma attached to violating support obligations. The court noted that father should have pbjected and moved to recuse the judge to preserve the bias claim, but the court considered the argument in the interest of justice:

"[W]hen a claim of bias is raised, the inquiry on appeal is limited to whether the judge's bias, if any, unjustly affected the result to the detriment of the complaining party'" ... . Here, the record reflects that when the parties appeared before the Family Court Judge, the Judge took an adversarial stance toward the father and made numerous improper remarks to him ... . The Judge told the father, among other things, that he "symbolizes everything that's wrong with the world today," and that he was "[s]elfish, self-interested, [and] self-seeking." The Judge repeated similar remarks multiple times during the proceeding. The Judge also called the father "lazy" and "arrogant," and remarked that he was "the last guy that [the Judge would] want to be in a fox hole with" because he would "fold like a cheap suit." The Judge compared the father's accumulation of arrears to "an arsonist that starts a fire that kills one person, that kills ten." Additionally, the Judge made the matter personal by comparing the father's experiences to the Judge's own. For instance, the Judge described his own past misfortune, and detailed how he picked himself up to became a judge. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the Judge committed the father to four times the period of incarceration recommended by the Support Magistrate. Under the circumstances, the bias of the Family Court Judge apparently unjustly affected the result of the proceeding to the detriment of the father. Matter of Berg v Berg, 2018 NY Slip Op 07719, Second Dept 11-14-18

FAMILY LAW (JUDICIAL BIAS, APPEALS, ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT))/JUDGES (BIAS, APPEALS, ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT))/APPEALS (JUDICIAL BIAS, PRESERVATION, ACADEMIC APPEALS, ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT))/STIGMA (APPEALS, FAMILY LAW, ACADEMIC APPEALS, ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT))/INTEREST OF JUSTICE  (JUDICIAL BIAS, APPEALS, ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT))/BIAS (JUDGES, FAMILY LAW, APPEALS, , ALTHOUGH FATHER HAD COMPLETED THE PERIOD OF INCARCERATION IMPOSED IN THIS SUPPORT ARREARS PROCEEDING, THE COMMITMENT ORDER IS APPEALABLE BECAUSE OF THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO VIOLATING SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS, ALTHOUGH THE JUDICIAL BIAS ARGUMENT WAS NOT PRESERVED, THE SECOND DEPARTMENT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE AND REVERSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE (SECOND DEPT))

IMMIGRATION LAW, MUNICIPAL LAW, APPEALS, CRIMINAL LAW.

STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, IMMIGRATION LAW VIOLATIONS ARE NOT CRIMES, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, in a comprehensive opinion by Justice Scheinkman, considering a matter of first impression, determined state and local law enforcement officers are not authorized to effect civil immigration arrests in connection with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detainers. The matter came before the court as a habeas corpus petition. The petition alleged that the continued detention (in county jail) of Frances, a citizen of India who had been in the US since his visa expired in 1996, after his criminal sentence was complete, was illegal. Although Frances was in ICE custody at the time of the appeal, Frances's circumstance was deemed likely to recur and the appeal was therefore heard as an exception to the mootness doctrine:

Following the conclusion of his court proceeding, at which he was sentenced to time served, [Frances] was handcuffed and taken to a courthouse holding cell by members of the Sheriff's Office ...  . ... [B]ased on the ICE warrant, ... Francis was regarded by the Sheriff as being in the custody of ICE. Francis was placed in a jail cell rented by ICE. * * *

Illegal presence in the country, standing alone, is not a crime... ; it is a civil violation that subjects the individual to removal ... . The federal process for removing someone from the country is a civil administrative matter, not a criminal one ... . * * *

New York statutes do not authorize state and local law enforcement to effectuate warrantless arrests for civil immigration law violations. An arrest without a warrant is permitted where an individual "has committed or is believed to have committed an offense and who is at liberty within the state" under certain circumstances prescribed by statute (CPL 140.05). County sheriffs and their deputies are police officers (see CPL 1.20[34]), as are members of the state police, county police, and municipal police. * * *

The narrow issue in this case is whether New York law permits New York state and local law enforcement officers to effectuate civil immigration arrests, and not whether federal civil immigration officers have the authority to effectuate such arrests. Nor do we decide any issues under federal law deputizing state and local law enforcement officers to act as federal immigration officers. ... [W]e conclude that the Sheriff's policy ... directing the retention of prisoners, who would otherwise be released, pursuant to ICE detainers and administrative warrants is unlawful ... . People ex rel. Wells v DeMarco, 2018 NY Slip Op 07740, Second Dept 11-14-18

IMMIGRATION LAW (STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (IMMIGRATION LAW, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/APPEALS (IMMIGRATION LAW, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (APPEALS, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/ICE (STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/DETAINERS (ICE, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL IMMIGRATION ARRESTS  (STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))/CRIMINAL LAW (IMMIGRATION LAW VIOLATIONS ARE NOT CRIMES, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO EFFECT CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS PURSUANT TO ICE DETAINERS, HABEAS CORPUS PETITION GRANTED TO FRANCES, A CITIZEN OF INDIA WHO WAS HELD IN A COUNTY JAIL OSTENSIBLY PURSUANT TO AN ICE DETAINER, EVEN THOUGH FRANCES IS NO LONGER IN THE CUSTODY OF THE COUNTY, THE PETITIONER'S CIRCUMSTANCE IS LIKELY TO RECUR AND THE APPEAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE MOOTNESS DOCTRINE (SECOND DEPT))

 

 

 

 

INSURANCE LAW.

FAILURE OF NO-FAULT BENEFIT ASSIGNEE TO APPEAR AT EXAMINATIONS UNDER OATH (EUO'S) REQUESTED BY THE CARRIER IS NOT A DEFENSE TO THE CARRIER'S OBLIGATION TO PAY THE NO-FAULT CLAIMS WHERE COVERAGE HAS NOT BEEN TIMELY DENIED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Peradotto, disagreeing with the First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the defendant medical professional corporation's failure to appear at examinations under oath (EUO's) requested by plaintiff insurer (Nationwide) was not a defense to Nationwide's obligation to pay no-fault claims submitted by defendant (where Nationwide had not timely disclaimed coverage):

Defendant is a medical professional corporation that was assigned claims for no-fault benefits by individuals who purportedly received treatment for injuries allegedly sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Defendant submitted bills for the services it purportedly rendered, along with the assignment of benefit forms, to the insurance carrier plaintiffs (hereafter, Nationwide) seeking reimbursement pursuant to the no-fault law and regulations (see Insurance Law art 51... ). As part of an investigation of the validity of the claims, Nationwide sought additional information and requested that defendant submit to EUOs. Despite Nationwide's repeated requests, defendant failed to appear at any of the scheduled EUOs.

Thereafter, Nationwide commenced this declaratory judgment action alleging that, by failing to appear for properly scheduled and noticed EUOs, defendant "breached a material condition precedent to coverage" under the insurance policies and no-fault regulations. Nationwide moved for summary judgment declaring that, as a result of such breach, it was under no obligation to pay or reimburse any of the subject claims, and defendant cross-moved for, inter alia, summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

 

Supreme Court subsequently granted the motion, and denied the cross motion. The court declared, among other things, that defendant breached a condition precedent to coverage by failing to appear at the scheduled EUOs and determined that Nationwide therefore had the right to deny all claims retroactively to the date of loss, regardless of whether it had issued timely denials.

 

... [D]efendant contends that the court erred in granting the motion because ... an insurer is precluded from asserting a litigation defense premised upon nonappearance at an EUO in the absence of a timely denial of coverage and that Nationwide failed to meet its burden of establishing that it issued timely denials. We agree ... . Nationwide Affinity Ins. Co. of Am. v Jamaica Wellness Med., P.C., 2018 NY Slip Op 07850, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

INSURANCE LAW (FAILURE OF NO-FAULT BENEFIT ASSIGNEE TO APPEAR AT EXAMINATIONS UNDER OATH (EUO'S) REQUESTED BY THE CARRIER IS NOT A DEFENSE TO THE CARRIER'S OBLIGATION TO PAY THE NO-FAULT CLAIMS WHERE COVERAGE HAS NOT BEEN TIMELY DENIED (FOURTH DEPT))/NO-FAULT INSURANCE  (FAILURE OF NO-FAULT BENEFIT ASSIGNEE TO APPEAR AT EXAMINATIONS UNDER OATH (EUO'S) REQUESTED BY THE CARRIER IS NOT A DEFENSE TO THE CARRIER'S OBLIGATION TO PAY THE NO-FAULT CLAIMS WHERE COVERAGE HAS NOT BEEN TIMELY DENIED (FOURTH DEPT))/EXAMINATION UNDER OATH (EUO) (INSURANCE LAW, NO-FAULT, FAILURE OF NO-FAULT BENEFIT ASSIGNEE TO APPEAR AT EXAMINATIONS UNDER OATH (EUO'S) REQUESTED BY THE CARRIER IS NOT A DEFENSE TO THE CARRIER'S OBLIGATION TO PAY THE NO-FAULT CLAIMS WHERE COVERAGE HAS NOT BEEN TIMELY DENIED (FOURTH DEPT))

 

JUDGES, ATTORNEYS, CIVIL PROCEDURE.

COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the judge should not have ordered the payment of attorney's fees for frivolous conduct without allowing the affected party to be heard on the question:

"The court, in its discretion, may award to any party or attorney in any civil action or proceeding before the court, . . . costs in the form of reimbursement for . . . reasonable attorney's fees, resulting from frivolous conduct" (22 NYCRR 130-1.1[a]). An award of costs or the imposition of sanctions "may be made either upon motion in compliance with CPLR 2214 or 2215 or upon the court's own initiative, after a reasonable opportunity to be heard" (22 NYCRR 130-1.1[d]). Here, the respondents did not cross-move for costs or sanctions in compliance with CPLR 2215, the respondents' opposition to the petitioner's motion for leave to renew did not clearly articulate a request for costs or sanctions, and there is no indication in this record that the petitioner was afforded an opportunity to be heard on this issue ... . Accordingly, the court improvidently exercised its discretion in awarding costs to the respondents in the form of attorneys' fees in the sum of $2,500 ... . Matter of Garvey v Sullivan, 2018 NY Slip Op 07724, Second Dept 11-14-18

JUDGES (FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT, SANCTIONS, COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (SANCTIONS, ATTORNEY'S FEES, COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT))/FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT (ATTORNEYS, COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT))/SANCTIONS (FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT, COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (ATTORNEYS, FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT, SANCTIONS, COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT))/CPLR 2214, 2215 (ATTORNEYS, FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT, SANCTIONS, COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED THE PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR FRIVOLOUS CONDUCT WITHOUT ALLOWING THE AFFECTED PARTY TO BE HEARD (SECOND DEPT))

LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW.

PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PROPERLY DENIED, PLAINTIFF TESTIFIED OTHER SAFETY DEVICES (LADDERS, SCAFFOLDS) WERE AVAILABLE AND DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HIS ACTIONS WERE NOT THE SOLE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF HIS INJURIES (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on the Labor Law 240 (1) cause of action was properly denied. Plaintiff was directed to repair the top rung of a permanent ladder which was missing a bolt. Plaintiff tried to pull himself up by grabbing the top rung which allegedly gave way causing him to fall. Plaintiff testified there were other safety devices (ladders, scaffolding) he could have used and did not demonstrate his actions did not constitute the sole proximate cause of his injuries:

"The single decisive question in determining whether Labor Law § 240(1) is applicable is whether the plaintiff's injuries were the direct consequence of a failure to provide adequate protection against a risk arising from a physically significant elevation differential" ... .

 

In order to obtain summary judgment on the issue of liability on a Labor Law § 240(1) cause of action, a plaintiff is required to demonstrate, prima facie, that there was a violation of the statute and that the violation was a proximate cause of his or her injuries ... . "Merely because a worker is injured while working above ground does not ipso facto mean that the injury resulted from an elevation-related risk contemplated by Section 240(1) of the Labor Law'" ... .

Here, the plaintiffs failed to establish, prima facie, that there was a violation of Labor Law § 240(1), or that the injured plaintiff's actions were not the sole proximate cause of his injuries...  In support of their motion, the plaintiffs submitted the injured plaintiff's deposition testimony in which he stated that he fell when the top rung of the ship's ladder, which he knew was missing a bolt and which he had been sent up to the roof to replace, detached while he was in the process of climbing the ladder and after he had attempted to pull himself up by placing his hand on the top rung. The injured plaintiff also testified at his deposition that there were other ladders and pipe scaffolding available to use at the jobsite. Jones v City of New York, 2018 NY Slip Op 07708, Second Dept 11-14-18

LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW (PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PROPERLY DENIED, PLAINTIFF TESTIFIED OTHER SAFETY DEVICES (LADDERS, SCAFFOLDS) WERE AVAILABLE AND DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HIS ACTIONS WERE NOT THE SOLE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF HIS INJURIES (SECOND DEPT))/LADDERS (LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW, PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PROPERLY DENIED, PLAINTIFF TESTIFIED OTHER SAFETY DEVICES (LADDERS, SCAFFOLDS) WERE AVAILABLE AND DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HIS ACTIONS WERE NOT THE SOLE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF HIS INJURIES (SECOND DEPT))/SOLE PROXIMATE CAUSE (LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW, PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PROPERLY DENIED, PLAINTIFF TESTIFIED OTHER SAFETY DEVICES (LADDERS, SCAFFOLDS) WERE AVAILABLE AND DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HIS ACTIONS WERE NOT THE SOLE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF HIS INJURIES (SECOND DEPT))

LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW, EVIDENCE, CIVIL PROCEDURE, APPEALS.

QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that plaintiff-decedent's motion for summary judgment on his Labor Law 240 (1) cause of action should not have been granted. Decedent's statement to his wife in the emergency room, to the effect he should not have used the ladder as he did, was admissible as a declaration against interest. There was evidence from a co-worker that the ladder may not have been the cause of decedent's injuries, i.e., there was evidence decedent was suffering chest pains 10 feet away from the ladder, which was upright. The court noted that factual assertions included in a memorandum of law in opposition to plaintiff-decedent's motion were properly considered and preserved issues for appeal:

Plaintiff made a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the Labor Law § 240(1) claim by presenting decedent's statement that he was working on a ladder when it started to move, and when he tried to stabilize the ladder, it tipped and struck him in the chest ... . Plaintiff was not "required to present further evidence that the ladder was defective" ... .

 

However, defendants raised triable issues of fact as to whether decedent's injuries were caused by an accident involving a ladder. Two accident reports set forth his alleged statement that he was working on the ladder when he started feeling chest pains and his legs became "unsteady" or "wobbly." Moreover, decedent's coworker, who was working in the same apartment unit separated from decedent by a concrete wall but went over to decedent's area, not in response to any commotion but for routine purposes, saw that the ladder was in the upright position about 10 feet away from decedent when he expressed that he was suffering from chest pains ... . Although decedent was disoriented and unable to answer basic questions at some points, he eventually became alert while in the hospital, yet his medical records do not refer to any ladder accident.

 

Contrary to plaintiff's assertion, defendants preserved their arguments about triable issues of fact by asserting them in their memorandum of law in opposition to plaintiff's partial summary judgment motion. Caminiti v Extell W. 57th St. LLC, 2018 NY Slip Op 07667, First Dept 11-13-18

LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT))/EVIDENCE (DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT))/DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST  (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (SUMMARY JUDGMENT, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT))/SUMMARY JUDGMENT (EVIDENCE, (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT))/APPEALS (PRESERVATION, (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S INJURY WAS CAUSED BY A TIPPING LADDER, FACTUAL ASSERTIONS IN A MEMO OF LAW OPPOSING PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) CAUSE OF ACTION PRESERVED ISSUES FOR APPEAL, PLAINTIFF-DECEDENT'S STATEMENT TO HIS WIFE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM PROPERLY CONSIDERED AS A DECLARATION AGAINST INTEREST (FIRST DEPT))

LEGAL MALPRACTICE, CIVIL PROCEDURE, ATTORNEYS, NEGLIGENCE.

QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE TOLLED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN THIS LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined there was a question of fact whether the continuous representation doctrine tolled the statute of limitations. Defendant attorney (Weiss) were hired by plaintiff to bring a personal injury action. The legal malpractice action was filed more than three years after the statute had run on the personal injury case:

The complaint alleged that after the plaintiff executed the retainer agreement, Weis informed the plaintiff that the defendants were going to commence a personal injury and products liability action against the owner of the table saw, the manufacturer of the table saw, and " everyone that touched the table saw'" until it was sold to the homeowner; the personal injury claim was " worth millions of dollars'"; and it "would take up to seven (7) years to resolve" the personal injury claim. The complaint further alleged that from approximately September 2008 to late 2008, the plaintiff contacted Weis approximately every two weeks to inquire about the status of the personal injury claim. Weis allegedly advised the plaintiff to " put the case on the back burner as it was going to take a long time to resolve,'" and that Weis " had the plaintiff's contact information,'" and " if he needed the plaintiff, he would contact him.'" The complaint also alleged that between approximately late 2008 and July 2014, the plaintiff called the defendants' law office every six to eight months to check on the status of the personal injury claim and spoke to a secretary each time. The complaint alleged that on July 29, 2014, the plaintiff went to the defendants' office and asked Weis "when his court date was" because "it was getting close" to the seven-year "anniversary of the accident." Weis allegedly told the plaintiff that he had " no case,'" and that Weis thought the plaintiff had " disappeared.'" ...

.. [T]the plaintiff raised a question of fact as to whether the continuous representation doctrine tolled the running of the statute of limitations until July 29, 2014, when Weis allegedly informed the plaintiff that he did not have a case. Upon entering into the retainer agreement, the plaintiff and the defendants reasonably intended that their professional relationship of trust and confidence, focused upon the personal injury claim, would continue. The complaint adequately alleged that the plaintiff was "left with the reasonable impression" that the defendants were, "in fact, actively addressing [his] legal needs" until that date. The allegations in the complaint failed to reflect, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff knew or should have known that the defendants had withdrawn from representation on the personal injury claim more than three years before the legal malpractice action was commenced ... . Schrull v Weis, 2018 NY Slip Op 07769, Second Dept 11-14-18

LEGAL MALPRACTICE (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE TOLLED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN THIS LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (LEGAL MALPRACTICE, CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE TOLLED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN THIS LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE (LEGAL MALPRACTICE, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE TOLLED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN THIS LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (LEGAL MALPRACTICE, CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE TOLLED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN THIS LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/NEGLIGENCE (LEGAL MALPRACTICE, CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE CONTINUOUS REPRESENTATION DOCTRINE TOLLED THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN THIS LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))

MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, CRIMINAL LAW, APPEALS, EVIDENCE.

PETITIONER SEX OFFENDER HAD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL FROM A RULING WHICH GRANTED RELIEF REQUESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE BUT DENIED THE MORE COMPLETE RELIEF REQUESTED, EVIDENCE SUPPORTED FINDING THAT PETITIONER SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY AND REQUIRED A REGIMEN OF STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department determined petitioner had the right to appeal a ruling which granted relief he had requested in the alternative but denied the more complete relief requested in the petition. The court further found that the evidence supported the finding that petitioner is a detained sex offender with a mental abnormality and required a regimen of strict and intensive superivsion and treatment (SIST):

... [W]e conclude that petitioner is aggrieved by the order because, although Supreme Court granted one of the forms of the relief he requested in the alternative, i.e., release under a regimen of SIST, the primary relief he sought was release to the community without conditions, and the denial of that part of the petition involved a substantial right of petitioner ... . ...

We ... reject petitioner's contention that basing the determination that he has a mental abnormality on a diagnosis of unspecified paraphilic disorder does not comport with the requirements of due process. That diagnosis is contained in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Although there is limited case law concerning that diagnosis, the Court of Appeals has repeatedly held that basing such a determination on the very similar former diagnosis of paraphilia not otherwise specified (paraphilia NOS) meets the requirements of due process ... , and the diagnosis of unspecified paraphilic disorder has similar diagnostic requirements as the former diagnosis of paraphilia NOS. ...

 

In addition, "to the extent that [petitioner] challenges the validity of [unspecified paraphilic disorder] as a predicate condition, disease or disorder,' we need not reach that argument because he did not mount a Frye challenge to the diagnosis" ... . Matter of Luis S. v State of New York, 2018 NY Slip Op 07852, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

MENTAL HYGIENE LAW (PETITIONER SEX OFFENDER HAD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL FROM A RULING WHICH GRANTED RELIEF REQUESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE BUT DENIED THE MORE COMPLETE RELIEF REQUESTED, EVIDENCE SUPPORTED FINDING THAT PETITIONER SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY AND REQUIRED A REGIMEN OF STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (FOURTH DEPT))/CRIMINAL LAW (MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, SEX OFFENDERS, (PETITIONER SEX OFFENDER HAD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL FROM A RULING WHICH GRANTED RELIEF REQUESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE BUT DENIED THE MORE COMPLETE RELIEF REQUESTED, EVIDENCE SUPPORTED FINDING THAT PETITIONER SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY AND REQUIRED A REGIMEN OF STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (FOURTH DEPT))/EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, PETITIONER SEX OFFENDER HAD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL FROM A RULING WHICH GRANTED RELIEF REQUESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE BUT DENIED THE MORE COMPLETE RELIEF REQUESTED, EVIDENCE SUPPORTED FINDING THAT PETITIONER SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY AND REQUIRED A REGIMEN OF STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (FOURTH DEPT))/STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (PETITIONER SEX OFFENDER HAD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL FROM A RULING WHICH GRANTED RELIEF REQUESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE BUT DENIED THE MORE COMPLETE RELIEF REQUESTED, EVIDENCE SUPPORTED FINDING THAT PETITIONER SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY AND REQUIRED A REGIMEN OF STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (FOURTH DEPT))/APPEALS (MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, CRIMINAL LAW, SEX OFFENDERS, PETITIONER SEX OFFENDER HAD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL FROM A RULING WHICH GRANTED RELIEF REQUESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE BUT DENIED THE MORE COMPLETE RELIEF REQUESTED, EVIDENCE SUPPORTED FINDING THAT PETITIONER SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY AND REQUIRED A REGIMEN OF STRICT AND INTENSIVE SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT (SIST) (FOURTH DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE.

DEFENDANT RAISED A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THERE EXISTS A NONNEGLIGENT EXPLANATION FOR THIS REAR END COLLISION, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in this rear end collision case should not have been granted. Although plaintiff made out a prima facie case (because there is no longer any need to demonstrate freedom from comparative fault in the motion papers), defendant alleged plaintiff suddenly changed lanes and stopped suddenly:

The plaintiff is no longer required to show freedom from comparative fault in order to establish his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability... . A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the operator of the rear vehicle ... . However, the inference of negligence may be rebutted by evidence that the accident was caused by the lead vehicle abruptly changing lanes in front of the rear vehicle and then slowing down or coming to a sudden stop ... .

 

Here, the plaintiff failed to establish his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability. Although the plaintiff submitted evidence that his vehicle was struck in the rear by the defendants' vehicle, he also submitted the deposition testimony of the defendant driver that the plaintiff's vehicle changed lanes abruptly in front of defendants' vehicle and then came to a sudden stop. Under these circumstances, the plaintiff's submissions failed to eliminate triable issues of fact as to whether the defendant driver was negligent. The deposition testimony of the defendant driver, if true, would constitute a nonnegligent explanation for the rear-end collision into the plaintiff's vehicle ... . Any inconsistencies in the deposition testimony of the defendant driver, and the other evidence submitted in support of the motion, did not render the defendant driver's deposition testimony incredible as a matter of law or unworthy of belief, but rather, raised issues of credibility to be resolved by the factfinder ... . Merino v Tessel, 2018 NY Slip Op 07717, Second Dept 11-14-18

NEGLIGENCE (TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, DEFENDANT RAISED A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THERE EXISTS A NONNEGLIGENT EXPLANATION OF THIS REAR END COLLISION, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS ( DEFENDANT RAISED A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THERE EXISTS A NONNEGLIGENT EXPLANATION OF THIS REAR END COLLISION, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/REAR END COLLISIONS (DEFENDANT RAISED A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THERE EXISTS A NONNEGLIGENT EXPLANATION OF THIS REAR END COLLISION, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, CIVIL PROCEDURE, EVIDENCE, APPEALS.

PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined the plaintiff's verdict in this subway slip and fall case should be set aside as against the weight of the evidence. The trial evidence indicated comparative fault on the part of the plaintiff. Plaintiff stepped into a gap between the train and the platform, just after she had stepped over it. In addition, plaintiff had used that same train for a year:

The jury found that the NYCTA [New York City Transit Authority] was negligent, that its negligence was a substantial factor in causing the accident, and that the injured plaintiff was not negligent. The NYCTA moved, in effect, pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside the jury verdict on the issue of liability as contrary to the weight of the evidence and for a new trial. The Supreme Court denied the motion. Insofar as relevant on this appeal, a judgment was subsequently entered in favor of the injured plaintiff and against the NYCTA.

 

"A jury verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence when the evidence so preponderates in favor of the movant that the verdict could not have been reached on any fair interpretation of the evidence" ... . "Whether a jury verdict should be set aside as contrary to the weight of the evidence does not involve a question of law, but rather requires a discretionary balancing of many factors"... .

The jury's finding that the NYCTA was solely at fault for the accident was contrary to the weight of the evidence. The evidence at trial demonstrated that, just prior to the accident, the injured plaintiff had exited the B train and stepped over the subject gap, without incident, onto the platform of the Prospect Park station. She then stepped into that same gap while attempting to reenter the train moments later. Additionally, the injured plaintiff had used the Prospect Park station on previous occasions. She testified that, for approximately one year, she had been taking the B train to the Prospect Park station where she would transfer to the shuttle train if it was at the station when she arrived. Under the circumstances, the jury's verdict on the issue of liability completely absolving the injured plaintiff of comparative fault was not supported by a fair interpretation of the evidence ... . Stallings-Wiggins v New York City Tr. Auth., 2018 NY Slip Op 07774, Second Dept 11-14-18

NEGLIGENCE (PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (SET ASIDE THE VERDICT, NEGLIGENCE, PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))/EVIDENCE (SET ASIDE VERDICT AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))/APPEALS (NEGLIGENCE, WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))/WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE (NEGLIGENCE, PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))/SLIP AND FALL (PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))/COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE (SLIP AND FALL, PLAINTIFF'S VERDICT SET ASIDE IN THIS SUBWAY SLIP AND FALL CASE AS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE, TRIAL EVIDENCE INDICATED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE ON PLAINTIFF'S PART (SECOND DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, MUNICIPAL LAW, EVIDENCE.

WHERE MALPRACTICE IS APPARENT FROM AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF MEDICAL RECORDS, THOSE RECORDS CONSTITUTE TIMELY NOTICE OF THE FACTS CONSTITUTING THE CLAIM, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM PROPERLY GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined plaintiff's motion for leave to file a late notice of claim was properly granted. Apparently plaintiff had fallen. The ambulance call report, prepared by defendants, indicated that plaintiff had limited response in her lower body. Plaintiff was rendered a partial quadriplegic. Expert opinions submitted in support of the motion were based upon a review of the ambulance report and concluded that plaintiff should have been immobilized and her injuries would not have been so severe if she had been immobilized. The Second Department explained that where malpractice is apparent from and independent review of the records, the records constitute timely actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim:

While the ambulance call report, without more, does not establish actual knowledge of a potential injury where the record does not evince that the medical staff, by its acts or omissions, inflicted any injury ... , where malpractice is apparent from an independent review of the medical records, those records constitute "actual notice of the pertinent facts" ... . Here, the plaintiff submitted the expert opinions of Paul Werfel and Robert E. Todd. Werfel, a certified paramedic and professor of clinical emergency medicine at Stony Brook University, reviewed the medical records, including the appellants' ambulance report. In his affidavit, Werfel stated that, in his "opinion to a reasonable degree of EMT standards," Rescue Squad "failed to use spinal precautions and/or follow required EMT protocols as it relates to mobilizing and placing a patient on a stretcher who has a high index of having sustained a spinal cord injury." Werfel further averred that Rescue Squad and NDP failed to comply with required protocols when transferring the plaintiff to the hospital. ... Inasmuch as the ambulance report, upon independent review, suggested injury attributable to malpractice, it provided the appellants with actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim ... .

Furthermore, the plaintiff made an initial showing that the appellants were not prejudiced by the delay in serving a notice of claim inasmuch as the appellants acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts of the claim via their own ambulance report ... . Ballantine v Pine Plains Hose Co., Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 07697, Second Dept 11-14-18

NEGLIGENCE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, MUNICIPAL LAW, WHERE MALPRACTICE IS APPARENT FROM AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF MEDICAL RECORDS, THOSE RECORDS CONSTITUTE TIMELY NOTICE OF THE FACTS CONSTITUTING THE CLAIM, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM PROPERLY GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/MEDICAL MALPRACTICE (MUNICIPAL LAW, WHERE MALPRACTICE IS APPARENT FROM AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF MEDICAL RECORDS, THOSE RECORDS CONSTITUTE TIMELY NOTICE OF THE FACTS CONSTITUTING THE CLAIM, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM PROPERLY GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (NOTICE OF CLAIM, NEGLIGENCE, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, WHERE MALPRACTICE IS APPARENT FROM AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF MEDICAL RECORDS, THOSE RECORDS CONSTITUTE TIMELY NOTICE OF THE FACTS CONSTITUTING THE CLAIM, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM PROPERLY GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/EVIDENCE (LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM, MUNICIPAL LAW, NEGLIGENCE, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE,  WHERE MALPRACTICE IS APPARENT FROM AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF MEDICAL RECORDS, THOSE RECORDS CONSTITUTE TIMELY NOTICE OF THE FACTS CONSTITUTING THE CLAIM, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM PROPERLY GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/NOTICE OF CLAIM  (MUNICIPAL LAW, WHERE MALPRACTICE IS APPARENT FROM AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF MEDICAL RECORDS, THOSE RECORDS CONSTITUTE TIMELY NOTICE OF THE FACTS CONSTITUTING THE CLAIM, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM PROPERLY GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, MUNICIPAL LAW, VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW.

POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant city's motion for summary judgment in this police-car traffic accident case should have been granted because the officer's actions did not rise to the reckless disregard standard of Vehicle and Traffic La 1104. Plaintiff was behind the police car when the officer made an abrupt u-turn to pursue a suspect in a domestic incident. There was evidence the officer did not activate the emergency lights until after the collision:

Before [the officer] attempted the U-turn, he checked his driver's side and rearview mirrors, turned his head, and saw no vehicles behind him. ...

 

We agree with defendants that Supreme Court erred in denying their motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. "[T]he reckless disregard standard of care . . . applies when a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle involved in an emergency operation engages in the specific conduct exempted from the rules of the road by Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104 (b)" ... . When the accident occurred, Baldwin was operating an "authorized emergency vehicle" (§ 1104 [a]), and he "was engaged in an emergency operation by virtue of the fact that he was attempting a U-turn in order to pursu[e] an actual or suspected violator of the law' " ... . Thus, Baldwin's conduct was exempted from the rules of the road by section 1104 (b) (4) and is governed by the reckless disregard standard of care in section 1104 (e) ... .

 

A " momentary judgment lapse' does not alone rise to the level of recklessness required of the driver of an emergency vehicle in order for liability to attach" ... . In support of their motion, defendants submitted evidence of the precautions Baldwin took before he attempted the U-turn and established as a matter of law that Baldwin's conduct did not rise to the level of reckless disregard for the safety of others, i.e., "he did not act with conscious indifference' to the consequences of his actions" ... .  Flood v City of Syracuse, 2018 NY Slip Op 07869, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

NEGLIGENCE (MUNICIPAL LAW, POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (POLICE OFFICERS, TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT))/POLICE OFFICERS (TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT))/TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS (POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT))/VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT))/RECKLESS DISREGARD (POLICE OFFICERS, TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, POLICE OFFICER TOOK PRECAUTIONS BEFORE ATTEMPTING A U-TURN TO PURSUE A SUSPECT AND COLLIDING WITH PLAINTIFF'S VEHICLE, MOMENTARY JUDGMENT LAPSE DOES NOT MEET RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD, CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FOURTH DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, MUNICIPAL LAW, VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW.

TOWN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SNOWPLOW TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, PLAINTIFF DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE SNOWPLOW OPERATOR'S ACTIONS ROSE TO THE RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD IN THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant town's motion for summary judgment in this snowplow traffic accident case should have been granted. Defendant alleged the plow blade was in his lane, but there was evidence the road markings were covered with snow:

Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1103 (b) "exempts all vehicles actually engaged in work on a highway'—including [snowplows]—from the rules of the road" ... . Here, defendants established as a matter of law that the snowplow was "actually engaged in work on a highway" at the time of the incident... , and plaintiff's evidence that the plow blade was up at the time of the accident did not raise a triable issue of fact with respect thereto inasmuch as plaintiff did not dispute that Farr [the snowplow driver] was "working his run or beat at the time of the accident" ... . ...

At most, plaintiff established that Farr did not see plaintiff's vehicle and that a portion of the snowplow crossed the center line of the road, which does not amount to recklessness. Moreover, plaintiff failed to submit competent evidence that Farr's operation of the snowplow without either a "wing man" or certification to operate the snowplow without a wing man was reckless. Finally, while plaintiff and Farr provided different versions of the accident, those differences alone do not create a question of fact on the issue of reckless disregard here ... . Clark v Town of Lyonsdale, 2018 NY Slip Op 07870. Fourth Dept 11-16-18

NEGLIGENCE (TOWN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SNOWPLOW TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, PLAINTIFF DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE SNOWPLOW OPERATOR'S ACTIONS ROSE TO THE RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD IN THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (FOURTH DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, SNOWPLOWS, TOWN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SNOWPLOW TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, PLAINTIFF DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE SNOWPLOW OPERATOR'S ACTIONS ROSE TO THE RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD IN THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (FOURTH DEPT))/SNOWPLOWS (MUNICIPAL LAW, TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, TOWN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SNOWPLOW TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, PLAINTIFF DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE SNOWPLOW OPERATOR'S ACTIONS ROSE TO THE RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD IN THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (FOURTH DEPT))/VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (MUNICIPAL LAW, SNOWPLOWS, TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, TOWN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SNOWPLOW TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, PLAINTIFF DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE SNOWPLOW OPERATOR'S ACTIONS ROSE TO THE RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD IN THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (FOURTH DEPT))/TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS (MUNICIPAL LAW, SNOWPLOWS, TOWN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SNOWPLOW TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, PLAINTIFF DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE SNOWPLOW OPERATOR'S ACTIONS ROSE TO THE RECKLESS DISREGARD STANDARD IN THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (FOURTH DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, PRODUCTS LIABILITY.

OWNER OF THE FARM AND HAY CONVEYOR OWED A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF WHO WAS INJURED BY THE CONVEYOR, LICENSEES USING THE CONVEYOR ON OWNER'S LAND DID NOT OWE A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF, WHO WAS A VOLUNTEER HELPING THE LICENSEES (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court determined there was a question of fact whether, Burdick, the owner of a farm and a hay conveyor, was liable for plaintiff's injury from catching her finger in the unguarded conveyor chain. Burdick, as part of an oral agreement, allowed the Fosters to use the hay conveyor on Burdick's property and was aware that persons, like plaintiff, would assist the Fosters. Plaintiff was a volunteer, not an employee. The court found  that Burdick, as the owner of the farm and the conveyor, owed a duty of care to the plaintitff and there was a question of fact whether the conveyor presented a dangerous condition that was not open and obvious. The Fosters owed no duty of care to plaintiff. But the Fosters, who now own the conveyor, were required to allow plaintiff to inspect the conveyor in connection with the lawsuit:

It is well established that, "[b]ecause a finding of negligence must be based on the breach of a duty, a threshold question in tort cases is whether the alleged tortfeasor owed a duty of care to the injured party" ... . "New York landowners owe people on their property a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to maintain their property in a safe condition" ... . "The duty of a landowner to maintain [his or her] property in a safe condition extends to persons whose presence is reasonably foreseeable by the landowner" ... . "[A] landowner's duty to warn of a latent, dangerous condition on his [or her] property is a natural counterpart to his [or her] duty to maintain [the] property in a reasonably safe condition" ... . "It is well settled that both owners and occupiers owe a duty of reasonable care to maintain property in a safe condition and to give warning of unsafe conditions that are not open and obvious" ... . ...

Additionally, where, as here, "the defendant [property] owner provides . . . allegedly defective equipment, the legal standard [with respect to negligence] is whether the owner created the dangerous or defective condition or had actual or constructive notice thereof' . . . , because in that situation the defendant property owner is possessed of the authority, as owner, to remedy the condition' of the defective equipment" ... . ...

The Fosters, at most, "had a license to [perform hay baling work on Burdick's farm with his hay conveyor], but the right to use the [farm and hay conveyor] does not establish control or give rise to a duty to warn"... . "In the absence of any authority to maintain or control the [farm or the hay conveyor], or to correct any unsafe condition, [the Fosters] owed no duty of care with respect to any unsafe condition on [Burdick's] premises" ... . Breau v Burdick, 2018 NY Slip Op 07851, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

NEGLIGENCE (OWNER OF THE FARM AND HAY CONVEYOR OWED A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF WHO WAS INJURED BY THE CONVEYOR, LICENSEES USING THE CONVEYOR ON OWNER'S LAND DID NOT OWE A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF, WHO WAS A VOLUNTEER HELPING THE LICENSEES (FOURTH DEPT))/PRODUCTS LIABILITY  (OWNER OF THE FARM AND HAY CONVEYOR OWED A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF WHO WAS INJURED BY THE CONVEYOR, LICENSEES USING THE CONVEYOR ON OWNER'S LAND DID NOT OWE A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF, WHO WAS A VOLUNTEER HELPING THE LICENSEES (FOURTH DEPT))/DUTY OF CARE (NEGLIGENCE, PRODUCTS LIABILITY, OWNER OF THE FARM AND HAY CONVEYOR OWED A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF WHO WAS INJURED BY THE CONVEYOR, LICENSEES USING THE CONVEYOR ON OWNER'S LAND DID NOT OWE A DUTY OF CARE TO PLAINTIFF, WHO WAS A VOLUNTEER HELPING THE LICENSEES (FOURTH DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW.

QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER DEFENDANT SAW WHAT WAS TO BE SEEN IN THIS BICYCLE-CAR COLLISION CASE, SUPREME COURT REVERSED, TWO JUSTICE DISSENT (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Curran, over a two-justice dissent, reversing Supreme Court, determined that defendant driver's motion for summary judgment in this bicycle-car collision case should not have been granted. Apparently plaintiff was riding on the sidewalk and ran into the side of defendant's car at an intersection. The majority concluded there was a question of fact whether defendant saw what he should have seen. The dissent relied on the right of way provisions of the Vehicle and Traffic Law:

Plaintiff [contended] that the provisions of the Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1234 (a) are inapplicable because plaintiff was riding his bicycle on a sidewalk and not a roadway, as contemplated by that section. Plaintiff further contended that issues of fact exist regarding whether defendant violated Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1142 and 1172 by failing to stop at the stop sign and failing to yield the right-of-way to plaintiff, and whether defendant failed to "see what [was] there to be seen." ... 

Defendant, as the movant for summary judgment, had the burden of establishing as a matter of law that he was not negligent or that, even if he was negligent, his negligence was not a proximate cause of the accident ... . To meet that burden, defendant was required to establish that he fulfilled his "common-law duty to see that which he should have seen [as a driver] through the proper use of his senses" ... , "and to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances to avoid an accident" ... , including that he met the obligation "to keep a reasonably vigilant lookout for bicyclists" .. . Defendant also had the burden of establishing as a matter of law that there was nothing he could do to avoid the accident ... . Pagels v Mullen, 2018 NY Slip Op 07855, Fourth Dept 11-16-18

NEGLIGENCE (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER DEFENDANT SAW WHAT WAS TO BE SEEN IN THIS BICYCLE-CAR COLLISION CASE, SUPREME COURT REVERSED, TWO JUSTICE DISSENT (FOURTH DEPT))/VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (NEGLIGENCE, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER DEFENDANT SAW WHAT WAS TO BE SEEN IN THIS BICYCLE-CAR COLLISION CASE, SUPREME COURT REVERSED, TWO JUSTICE DISSENT (FOURTH DEPT))/TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS  (QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER DEFENDANT SAW WHAT WAS TO BE SEEN IN THIS BICYCLE-CAR COLLISION CASE, SUPREME COURT REVERSED, TWO JUSTICE DISSENT (FOURTH DEPT))/BICYCLES (TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER DEFENDANT SAW WHAT WAS TO BE SEEN IN THIS BICYCLE-CAR COLLISION CASE, SUPREME COURT REVERSED, TWO JUSTICE DISSENT (FOURTH DEPT))

REAL PROPERTY LAW, TRUSTS AND ESTATES.

DECEDENT DIED INTESTATE, COTENANTS' INTERESTS IN THE REAL PROPERTY VESTED UPON DEATH, COTENANTS COULD THEREFORE CONVEY THEIR INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY, SURROGATE'S COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE SET ASIDE DEEDS (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Surrogate's Court, determined deeds executed by decedent's cotenants should not have been set aside. Because decedent died intestate, the cotenants' interests in the real property vested upon death and the cotenants could validly convey their interests in the property:

The Surrogate's Court should not have granted those branches of the petition which sought to set aside the subject deeds and to determine that title to the subject property was vested in the decedent's estate. When the decedent died intestate, title to the subject property automatically vested in her distributees as tenants in common ... . "[W]hen a cotenant who has a partial interest in real property executes a deed that purports to convey full title to the property, the deed is not entirely void; rather, the deed is effective, but only to the extent of conveying the grantor's interest in the property" ... . Matter of Blango, 2018 NY Slip Op 07721, Second Dept 11-14-18

REAL PROPERTY LAW (DECEDENT DIED INTESTATE, COTENANTS' INTERESTS IN THE REAL PROPERTY VESTED UPON DEATH, COTENANTS COULD THEREFORE CONVEY THEIR INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY, SURROGATE'S COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE SET ASIDE DEEDS (SECOND DEPT))/TRUSTS AND ESTATES (REAL PROPERTY, COTENANTS, DECEDENT DIED INTESTATE, COTENANTS' INTERESTS IN THE REAL PROPERTY VESTED UPON DEATH, COTENANTS COULD THEREFORE CONVEY THEIR INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY, SURROGATE'S COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE SET ASIDE DEEDS (SECOND DEPT))/TENANTS IN COMMON (TRUSTS AND ESTATES, COTENANTS' INTERESTS IN THE REAL PROPERTY VESTED UPON DEATH, COTENANTS COULD THEREFORE CONVEY THEIR INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY, SURROGATE'S COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE SET ASIDE DEEDS (SECOND DEPT))/TRUSTS AND ESTATES (REAL PROPERTY LAW, COTENANTS' INTERESTS IN THE REAL PROPERTY VESTED UPON DEATH, COTENANTS COULD THEREFORE CONVEY THEIR INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY, SURROGATE'S COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE SET ASIDE DEEDS (SECOND DEPT))/DEEDS (TRUSTS AND ESTATES, TENANTS IN COMMON, COTENANTS' INTERESTS IN THE REAL PROPERTY VESTED UPON DEATH, COTENANTS COULD THEREFORE CONVEY THEIR INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY, SURROGATE'S COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE SET ASIDE DEEDS (SECOND DEPT))

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE.

LIMOUSINE DRIVER WAS AN EMPLOYEE ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department determined a limousine driver for XYZ was an employee entitled to unemployment insurance benefits:

XYZ imposed rules "regarding every aspect of claimant's performance" and thereby "exercised control over the results produced [and, more importantly,] the means used" to service XYZ's clients ... . While XYZ was obligated to comply with the rules governing the for-hire car service industry established by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the testimony and a comparative review of the rules together established that XYZ's rules were significantly more specific and detailed or involved interpretations that often went well beyond the Commission's rules ... . Indeed, an officer of XYZ explained that these additional specific requirements were designed "to satisfy the customer expectation." Thus, as we have consistently done in similar cases, we find that substantial evidence supports the Board's factual determination that claimant was an employee of XYZ, despite the existence of evidence that might support a contrary conclusion ... . Matter of Jung Yen Tsai (XYZ Two Way Radio Serv., Inc.--Commissioner of Labor), 2018 NY Slip Op 07807, Third Dept 11-15-18

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (LIMOUSINE DRIVER WAS AN EMPLOYEE ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS (THIRD DEPT))/LIMOUSINE DRIVERS (UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, LIMOUSINE DRIVER WAS AN EMPLOYEE ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS (THIRD DEPT))

WORKERS' COMPENSATION.

NEW YORK WORKERS' COMPENSATION TREATMENT GUIDELINES APPLY TO CLAIMANTS WHO HAVE MOVED TO AND ARE TREATED IN OTHER STATES (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department determined the Workers' Compensation Board properly ruled that the guidelines for back pain treatment applied to claimant in Nevada. Claimant qualified for benefits in New York in 1996 and moved to Nevada in 2005:

... [W]e disagree with claimant that the Board impermissibly departed from its earlier decisions, as the Board acknowledged such a departure in its May 2017 decision and articulated its reasons for doing so ... . Moreover, we find that the Board's decision to depart from its prior decisions and apply the guidelines to the out-of-state treatment received by claimant in this case was rational. "The Board has the authority to promulgate medical treatment guidelines defining the nature and scope of necessary treatment" ... .. "An agency's construction of its statutes and regulations will be upheld if rational and reasonable" ... . ...

There is no dispute that claimant, who was injured in New York but has since moved to Nevada, is entitled to continue to receive medical treatment from qualified physicians in her new state and that the employer remains liable for the reasonable value of necessary medical treatment from qualified physicians in her new state ... . In our view, the plain language of the regulations governing the guidelines do not limit their applicability to such medical treatment provided to claimants in other states, and a "treating medical provider" includes "any physician, podiatrist, chiropractor or psychologist that is providing treatment and care to an injured worker pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Law" without regard to, or limitation of, geographic location ... . Consistent with the regulations, the guidelines also state that "[a]ny medical providerrendering services to a workers' compensation patient must utilize the . . . [g]uidelines as provided for with respect to all work-related injuries and/or illnesses" ... . Matter of Gasparro v Hospice of Dutchess County, 2018 NY Slip Op 07815, Third Dept 11-15-18

WORKERS' COMPENSATION (NEW YORK WORKERS' COMPENSATION TREATMENT GUIDELINES APPLY TO CLAIMANTS WHO HAVE MOVED TO AND ARE TREATED IN OTHER STATES (THIRD DEPT))

WORKERS' COMPENSATION, EMPLOYMENT LAW.

CLAIMANT LEFT HIS EMPLOYER'S FARM BRIEFLY USING HIS EMPLOYER'S ATV AND WAS STRUCK BY A VEHICLE WHEN HE ATTEMPTED TO RETURN TO THE FARM, THERE WAS EVIDENCE CLAIMANT CONSUMED ALCOHOL WHICH WAS PROHIBITED BY HIS EMPLOYER, CLAIMANT'S INJURIES DID NOT ARISE FROM HIS EMPLOYMENT, WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM PROPERLY DENIED (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department determined claimant's injuries did not arise out of his employment. Claimant, a farm worker, used his employer's ATV to go across the street to where his girlfriend was moving into a house. There was evidence he may have drunk beer, which was prohibited by his employer. When crossing the street to return to the farm claimant was struck by a vehicle and injured:

Regardless of whether claimant was permitted to use the employer's ATV or to take a break and leave the farm for a brief period of time before returning to work, the employer's testimony makes clear that consuming alcohol on the job was not a permitted, acceptable or customary deviation from claimant's employment ... . As the record as a whole provides substantial evidence to support the Board's finding that claimant was engaged in an impermissible deviation from his employment at the time of his accident, his resulting injuries did not arise out of and in the course of his employment and, therefore, are not compensable ... . Matter of Button v Button, 2018 NY Slip Op 07809, Third Dept 11-15-18

WORKERS' COMPENSATION (CLAIMANT LEFT HIS EMPLOYER'S FARM BRIEFLY USING HIS EMPLOYER'S ATV AND WAS STRUCK BY A VEHICLE WHEN HE ATTEMPTED TO RETURN TO THE FARM, THERE WAS EVIDENCE CLAIMANT CONSUMED ALCOHOL WHICH WAS PROHIBITED BY HIS EMPLOYER, CLAIMANT'S INJURIES DID NOT ARISE FROM HIS EMPLOYMENT, WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM PROPERLY DENIED (THIRD DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (WORKERS' COMPENSATION, CLAIMANT LEFT HIS EMPLOYER'S FARM BRIEFLY USING HIS EMPLOYER'S ATV AND WAS STRUCK BY A VEHICLE WHEN HE ATTEMPTED TO RETURN TO THE FARM, THERE WAS EVIDENCE CLAIMANT CONSUMED ALCOHOL WHICH WAS PROHIBITED BY HIS EMPLOYER, CLAIMANT'S INJURIES DID NOT ARISE FROM HIS EMPLOYMENT, WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM PROPERLY DENIED (THIRD DEPT))

WORKERS' COMPENSATION, EMPLOYMENT LAW, CIVIL PROCEDURE.

WHERE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE INJURED PLAINTIFF'S EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS WORKERS' COMPENSATION BECAUSE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF WAS AN EMPLOYEE OR AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, THE ISSUE MUST FIRST BE DECIDED BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, NOT THE COURTS (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined a question of fact whether the injured plaintiff was an employee or an independent contractor (and therefore a question of fact whether the Workers' Compensation was plaintiff's exclusive remedy) must ruled on by the Workers' Compensation Board before the courts can get involved:

Where the availability of workers' compensation benefits "hinges upon questions of fact or upon mixed questions of fact and law, the parties may not choose the courts as the forum for resolution of the questions, but must look to the Workers' Compensation Board for such determinations"... . "The question of whether a particular person is an employee within the meaning of the Workers' Compensation Law is usually a question of fact to be resolved by the Workers' Compensation Board" ... . Here, in light of the affidavit of the defendant's employee, who stated that he trained the plaintiff, supervised the plaintiff closely, set the plaintiff's hours on the days the plaintiff worked, and directed the plaintiff's work, there is a question of fact regarding whether the plaintiff was the defendant's employee on the date of the accident. Accordingly, because "there is a question of fact as to whether the plaintiff has a valid negligence cause of action against the defendant," "[t]hat determination must be made in the first instance by the Workers' Compensation Board ...".  Findlater v Catering by Michael Schick, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 07702, Second Dept 11-14-18

WORKERS'' COMPENSATION (WHERE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE INJURED PLAINTIFF'S EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS WORKERS' COMPENSATION BECAUSE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF WAS AN EMPLOYEE OR AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, THE ISSUE MUST FIRST BE DECIDED BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, NOT THE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (WORKERS' COMPENSATION, WHERE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE INJURED PLAINTIFF'S EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS WORKERS' COMPENSATION BECAUSE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF WAS AN EMPLOYEE OR AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, THE ISSUE MUST FIRST BE DECIDED BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, NOT THE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))/INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS (WORKERS' COMPENSATION, WHERE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE INJURED PLAINTIFF'S EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS WORKERS' COMPENSATION BECAUSE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF WAS AN EMPLOYEE OR AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, THE ISSUE MUST FIRST BE DECIDED BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, NOT THE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (WORKERS' COMPENSATION, WHERE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THE INJURED PLAINTIFF'S EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS WORKERS' COMPENSATION BECAUSE THERE IS A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER PLAINTIFF WAS AN EMPLOYEE OR AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, THE ISSUE MUST FIRST BE DECIDED BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, NOT THE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))

 

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