JUST RELEASED

September Page III

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

 

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ATTORNEYS (DEFENDANT, AN ATTORNEY, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FROM REPRESENTING HIMSELF IN THIS ACTION WHICH INCLUDED A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE ATTORNEY FOR LEGAL MALPRACTICE (SECOND DEPT))/LEGAL MALPRACTICE (DEFENDANT, AN ATTORNEY, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FROM REPRESENTING HIMSELF IN THIS ACTION WHICH INCLUDED A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE ATTORNEY FOR LEGAL MALPRACTICE (SECOND DEPT))/DISQUALIFICATION (ATTORNEYS, (DEFENDANT, AN ATTORNEY, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FROM REPRESENTING HIMSELF IN THIS ACTION WHICH INCLUDED A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE ATTORNEY FOR LEGAL MALPRACTICE (SECOND DEPT))

ATTORNEYS.

DEFENDANT, AN ATTORNEY, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FROM REPRESENTING HIMSELF IN THIS ACTION WHICH INCLUDED A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE ATTORNEY FOR LEGAL MALPRACTICE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined defendant (Feinsliver) , an attorney, should not have been disqualified from representing himself in an action which included a cause of action against the attorney for legal malpractice:

... [T]he plaintiff commenced this action against Feinsilver and other entities related to Feinsilver. The plaintiff alleged, among other things, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract, fraud, and legal malpractice. The defendants interposed various counterclaims.

 

... [T]he plaintiff moved to disqualify Feinsilver and his law firm, The Feinsilver Law Group, from representing the defendants in this action. ... Supreme Court, inter alia, granted the motion with respect to Feinsilver himself, disqualifying him from representing any of the defendants, including himself. ...

 

An attorney, like any other litigant, has the right, both constitutional... and statutory ... to self-representation. Although the right is not absolute, any restriction on it must be carefully scrutinized ... . Here, the plaintiff failed to demonstrate any compelling reason why Feinsilver should not be allowed to represent himself in this action ... . Accordingly, the Supreme Court erred in disqualifying Feinsilver from representing himself in this action ... . Herczl v Feinsilver, 2017 NY Slip Op 06528, 2nd Dept 9-20-17

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE (MOTION TO EXTEND TIME TO EFFECT SERVICE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/SERVICE OF PROCESS (MOTION TO EXTEND TIME TO EFFECT SERVICE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE.

MOTION TO EXTEND TIME TO EFFECT SERVICE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff's motion to extend the time to effect service in this foreclosure action should have been granted. The initial defective service was timely and the statute of limitations ran out before the defect could be cured:

... [T]he Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the plaintiff's motion which was pursuant to CPLR 306-b for leave to extend its time to serve the summons and complaint upon [defendant] in the interest of justice ... . While the action was timely commenced, the statute of limitations had expired when the plaintiff moved for this relief, the timely service of process was subsequently found to have been defective, there was no identifiable prejudice to [defendant] attributable to the delay in proper service, and the complaint appears to be potentially meritorious ... . US Bank N.A. v Saintus, 2017 NY Slip Op 06567, Second Dept 9-20-17

CIVIL PROCEDURE (ALTHOUGH THE DISPUTE BETWEEN PLAINTIFF AND A RABBI INVOLVED THE PURCHASE OF TORAH BOOKS AND THE JEWISH CUSTOM OF SHIDUCH, THE MATTER COULD BE DECIDED BASED ON NEUTRAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW IN THE STATE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))/CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (RELIGION, ALTHOUGH THE DISPUTE BETWEEN PLAINTIFF AND A RABBI INVOLVED THE PURCHASE OF TORAH BOOKS AND THE JEWISH CUSTOM OF SHIDUCH, THE MATTER COULD BE DECIDED BASED ON NEUTRAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW IN THE STATE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))/RELIGION (ALTHOUGH THE DISPUTE BETWEEN PLAINTIFF AND A RABBI INVOLVED THE PURCHASE OF TORAH BOOKS AND THE JEWISH CUSTOM OF SHIDUCH, THE MATTER COULD BE DECIDED BASED ON NEUTRAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW IN THE STATE COURTS (SECOND DEPT))

CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

ALTHOUGH THE DISPUTE BETWEEN PLAINTIFF AND A RABBI INVOLVED THE PURCHASE OF TORAH BOOKS AND THE JEWISH CUSTOM OF SHIDUCH, THE MATTER COULD BE DECIDED BASED ON NEUTRAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW IN THE STATE COURTS (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined a dispute between plaintiff and a rabbi involved neutral principles of law and therefore could be adjudicated in the state court system:

The plaintiff commenced this action to recover damages for breach of contract and fraud, alleging that she made several payments to the defendants totaling $214,000 for the purchase of three torah books, and for the defendants to find her a husband pursuant to the Jewish custom of "shiduch." The plaintiff alleged that the defendants made false statements to induce her to make the payments, and had not performed pursuant to their agreement. ...

"The First Amendment forbids civil courts from interfering in or determining religious disputes, because there is substantial danger that the state will become entangled in essentially religious controversies or intervene on behalf of groups espousing particular doctrines or beliefs" ... . However, "[c]ivil disputes involving religious parties or institutions may be adjudicated without offending the First Amendment as long as neutral principles of law are the basis for their resolution" ... .

 

Here, the defendants failed to demonstrate that the plaintiff's causes of action cannot be determined solely upon the application of neutral principles of law, without reference to religious principles ... . Lifschitz v Sharabi, 2017 NY Slip Op 06530, 2nd Dept 9-20-17

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE (DISCOVERY STATUTE MUST BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED, PLAINTIFF ENTITLED TO CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS DEMONSTRATING THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE DEFENDANTS IN THIS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/NEGLIGENCE (DISCOVERY STATUTE MUST BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED, PLAINTIFF ENTITLED TO CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS DEMONSTRATING THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE DEFENDANTS IN THIS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/MEDICAL MALPRACTICE (DISCOVERY STATUTE MUST BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED, PLAINTIFF ENTITLED TO CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS DEMONSTRATING THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE DEFENDANTS IN THIS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT))

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE, NEGLIGENCE, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE.

DISCOVERY STATUTE MUST BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED, PLAINTIFF ENTITLED TO CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS DEMONSTRATING THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE DEFENDANTS IN THIS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff was entitled to discovery of contracts and agreements potentially relevant to the relationship among defendants in this medical malpractice action. The discovery statute is to be broadly construed:

CPLR 3101(a) provides that "[t]here shall be full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action." The words "material and necessary" must " be interpreted liberally to require disclosure, upon request, of any facts bearing on the controversy which will assist preparation for trial by sharpening the issues and reducing delay and prolixity'" ... .

 

Here, at his deposition, Ward testified that he was president of the PC as well as the Director of Anesthesia Services at the Medical Center. Ward further testified that there was an agreement that was executed by the Medical Center and by him in his individual capacity only, concerning, in effect, the establishment and terms of the existence of what would become the PC (hereinafter the contract). As such, and despite the fact that it was executed by Ward in his individual capacity only, the contract may provide material evidence on the issue of the Medical Center's relationship to or control over the PC. Thus, the disclosure sought by the plaintiff, i.e., the production of the contract by Nataloni, the PC, and the Medical Center, and a knowledgeable witness from the Medical Center regarding the contract, was "[evidence] material and necessary" for the prosecution of his action ... . Accordingly, the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying those branches of the plaintiff's motion which were to compel Nataloni, the PC, and the Medical Center to produce any contracts and agreements for anesthesia services between the Medical Center and Ward, in his individual capacity only, and to compel the Medical Center to produce a witness with knowledge regarding the subject contract. The court likewise improvidently exercised its discretion in granting those branches of the separate cross motions which were for a protective order with respect to those discovery demands. Redmond v Hanypsiak, 2017 NY Slip Op 06563, Second Dept 9-20-17

CIVIL RIGHTS LAW (42 USC 1983, EXCESSIVE FORCE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST POLICE AND 42 USC 1983 CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE MUNICIPALITY PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (42 USC 1983, EXCESSIVE FORCE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST POLICE AND 42 USC 1983 CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE MUNICIPALITY PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/POLICE (42 USC 1983, EXCESSIVE FORCE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST POLICE AND 42 USC 1983 CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE MUNICIPALITY PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))/EXCESSIVE FORCE (42 USC 1983, EXCESSIVE FORCE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST POLICE AND 42 USC 1983 CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE MUNICIPALITY PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT))

 

CIVIL RIGHTS LAW (42 USC 1983), MUNICIPAL LAW.

EXCESSIVE FORCE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST POLICE AND 42 USC 1983 CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE MUNICIPALITY PROPERLY DISMISSED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined plaintiffs' 42 USC 1983 causes of action against the police and the municipality were properly dismissed. Placing handcuffs on the plaintiffs during the execution of a search warrant did not constitute excessive force. Plaintiffs did not demonstrate the municipality was implementing an unconstitutional policy:

... [T]he officers' use of force while executing the search warrant was reasonable. Handcuffing the plaintiff and her two teenaged sons for the duration of the search was reasonable under the circumstances, given that the officers did not know who they might encounter or whether any occupants of the house might have weapons ... . The fact that the plaintiff was not named as a subject of the warrant did not render the conduct of the police objectively unreasonable ... . In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact regarding the propriety of the level of force used by the police in executing the search warrant. Additionally, "a plaintiff must have sustained some injury to maintain a claim of excessive force, although that injury need not be severe" ... . Here, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether she or any of her children sustained an injury as a result of being handcuffed or detained during the search ... . ...

" [A] 42 USC § 1983 action may lie against a municipality if the plaintiff shows that the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional either implement[s] or execute[s] a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers or has occurred pursuant to a practice so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law'" ... . However, a municipality "cannot be held liable pursuant to 42 USC § 1983 based solely upon the doctrine of respondeat superior or vicarious liability"... . Here, in opposition to the defendants' prima facie showing, the plaintiff's conclusory assertions failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the alleged unconstitutional actions resulted from a policy, regulation, or custom of the City ... . Harris v City of New York, 2017 NY Slip Op 06527, 2nd Dept 9-20-17

CONTRACT LAW (FRAUD, CONTRACT ALLEGATIONS DUPLICATED FRAUD ALLEGATIONS, FRAUD CAUSE OF ACTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/FRAUD (CONTRACT ALLEGATIONS DUPLICATED FRAUD ALLEGATIONS, FRAUD CAUSE OF ACTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))

CONTRACT LAW, FRAUD.

CONTRACT ALLEGATIONS DUPLICATED FRAUD ALLEGATIONS, FRAUD CAUSE OF ACTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Friedman, over a dissenting opinion, determined the fraud cause of action should have been dismissed as duplicative of the breach of contract cause of action. The action is between two telecommunications companies. The allegations involve the responsibility for payment for fraudulent phone calls. Plaintiff (Cronos) alleged the contract required defendant (XComIP) to indemnify it for fraudulent calls. The complaint stated a cause of action for breach of contract. However, the fraud allegations were based on speculation about defendant's intent, i.e., that defendant entered into the contract with the intention to avoid paying for fraudulent calls:

Cronos's fraud cause of action falls short under the principle that a fraud claim is not stated by allegations that simply duplicate, in the facts alleged and damages sought, a claim for breach of contract, enhanced only by conclusory allegations that the pleader's adversary made a promise while harboring the concealed intent not to perform it. This Court has held numerous times that a fraud claim that "ar[ises] from the same facts [as an accompanying contract claim], s[eeks] identical damages and d[oes] not allege a breach of any duty collateral to or independent of the parties' agreements" is subject to dismissal as "redundant of the contract claim"... . Thus, where a fraud claim was supported by allegations that the defendants had "misrepresented . . . their intentions with respect to the manner" in which they would perform their contractual duties, we dismissed the fraud claim as duplicative of the plaintiffs' contract claim because the fraud claim was "based on the same facts that underlie the contract cause of action, [was] not collateral to the contract, and d[id] not seek damages that would not be recoverable under a contract measure of damages" ... .

... Cronos's fraud claim is duplicative of its claim for breach of contract, inasmuch as the only fraud alleged is XComIP's unkept promise to perform certain of its preexisting obligations under the parties' contract (as alleged by Cronos), for which Cronos seeks exactly the same damages as are sought under the rubric of the claim for breach of contract. Based on Cronos's own allegations, Cronos's fraud claim is plainly redundant of its breach-of-contract cause of action. Cronos Group Ltd. v XComIP, LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 06515, 1st Dept 9-19-17

CRIMINAL LAW (HABEAS CORPUS IS NOT A VEHICLE FOR RELIEF FOR ISSUES WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED ON APPEAL AND IS NOT AVAILABLE UNTIL A PRISONER IS ENTITLED TO IMMEDIATE RELEASE (THIRD DEPT))/HABEAS CORPUS (HABEAS CORPUS IS NOT A VEHICLE FOR RELIEF FOR ISSUES WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED ON APPEAL AND IS NOT AVAILABLE UNTIL A PRISONER IS ENTITLED TO IMMEDIATE RELEASE (THIRD DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW.

HABEAS CORPUS IS NOT A VEHICLE FOR RELIEF FOR ISSUES WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN RAISED ON APPEAL AND IS NOT AVAILABLE UNTIL A PRISONER IS ENTITLED TO IMMEDIATE RELEASE (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department noted that habeas corpus is not a vehicle for relief for issues which could have been raised on appeal and is not available until the maximum sentence has been served (must be entitled to immediate release):

Supreme Court properly dismissed the petition, as "habeas corpus relief is not an appropriate remedy for resolving claims that could have been or that were raised on direct appeal or in a postconviction motion" ... . Petitioner's contentions regarding his sentence were or could have been raised on his direct appeal and in his CPL article 440 motions to vacate the judgment and sentence ... . In addition, even if petitioner's claims were determined to have merit and his sentences were to run concurrently, he would not be entitled to immediate release from prison and, consequently, habeas relief is not appropriate ... . To that end, it is the expiration of the maximum sentence, and not the conditional release date, that is required to establish entitlement to release in a habeas corpus proceeding, and petitioner has not yet reached the maximum expiration of his sentences even if they were concurrent ... . People v D'Amico, 2017 NY Slip Op 06574, Third Dept 9-21-17

Similar issue and result in People v Kirkpatrick, 2017 NY Slip Op 06578, Third Dept 9-21-17

DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS (INMATES) (HEARING OFFICER DID NOT PROVIDE PETITIONER WITH WRITTEN NOTICE OF HER DENIAL OF PETITIONER'S REQUEST THAT A WITNESS TESTIFY, PETITIONER ENTITLED TO A NEW HEARING (THIRD DEPT))

DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS (INMATES).

HEARING OFFICER DID NOT PROVIDE PETITIONER WITH WRITTEN NOTICE OF HER DENIAL OF PETITIONER'S REQUEST THAT A WITNESS TESTIFY, PETITIONER ENTITLED TO A NEW HEARING (THIRD DEPT).

Third Department determined petitioner was entitled to a new hearing because the hearing officer failed to provide him with written notice of her denial of the inmate's request that a witness testify:

At the start of the hearing, petitioner indicated three times that he wanted to call inmate X as a witness, and also informed the Hearing Officer that he wished to call six inmates who were housed in his dorm. The Hearing Officer adjourned the hearing to interview the inmates requested and, when the hearing resumed, she informed petitioner that the six inmates housed in his dorm had refused to testify, briefly mentioning the various reasons given and that they had signed refusal forms. The Hearing Officer, however, did not mention whether she had also spoken to inmate X and, if so, what he had said regarding his prior agreement to testify. No other reference was made to inmate X at the hearing and the hearing thereafter concluded without inmate X's testimony.

 

Despite the fact that the hearing transcript is devoid of any indication of the Hearing Officer's efforts to obtain inmate X's testimony, the record contains a refusal form completed by the Hearing Officer indicating that she personally interviewed inmate X during the pendency of the hearing and that he refused to testify because he did not "want to be involved." This record evidence establishes the Hearing Officer's personal efforts to secure inmate X's testimony and ascertain a sufficient reason for his refusal ... . It is equally apparent that the Hearing Officer effectively made a determination to deny petitioner's request to call this witness for this reason. However, we find that her failure to provide any written notice to petitioner concerning her effective denial of his request amounts to a regulatory violation requiring the matter to be remitted for a new hearing ... . Matter of Blades v Annucci, 2017 NY Slip Op 06581, Third Dept 9-21-17

FAMILY LAW (WIFE NOT ENTITLED TO INTEREST ON A LATE LUMP SUM PAYMENT, HUSBAND NOT ENTITLED TO RECOUP OVERPAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE (SECOND DEPT))/DIVORCE (WIFE NOT ENTITLED TO INTEREST ON A LATE LUMP SUM PAYMENT, HUSBAND NOT ENTITLED TO RECOUP OVERPAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE (SECOND DEPT))/MAINTENANCE (WIFE NOT ENTITLED TO INTEREST ON A LATE LUMP SUM PAYMENT, HUSBAND NOT ENTITLED TO RECOUP OVERPAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE (SECOND DEPT))/CHILD SUPPORT (WIFE NOT ENTITLED TO INTEREST ON A LATE LUMP SUM PAYMENT, HUSBAND NOT ENTITLED TO RECOUP OVERPAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE (SECOND DEPT))

FAMILY LAW.

WIFE NOT ENTITLED TO INTEREST ON A LATE LUMP SUM PAYMENT, HUSBAND NOT ENTITLED TO RECOUP OVERPAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, under the particular facts, determined the wife was not entitled to post or pre-judgment interest on a late $1,000,000 lump sum payment which was part of a stipulation of settlement in this divorce action. The court noted that the husband was not entitled to recoup an overpayment of maintenance/child support as a matter of public policy:

... [T]he award to the defendant of $19,241.31, representing an alleged overpayment of maintenance, was improper. The recoupment of overpayments of maintenance and/or child support is generally against public policy, since those payments are deemed to have been spent for that purpose... . Further, voluntary payments are generally not credited against amounts currently due ... . The voluntary payments were made, at least in part, because the plaintiff was unable to satisfy certain mortgage liens on the real property transferred to her because the defendant did not transfer the $1,000,000 distributive award to her in a timely manner. O'Donnell v O'Donnell, 2017 NY Slip Op 06540, Second Dept 9-20-17

INSURANCE LAW (OPERATIVE DATE FOR POLICY COVERAGE WAS THE DATE THE POWER GENERATING TURBINE WAS TAKEN OUT OF SERVICE, EVEN THOUGH THE DAMAGE WHICH ULTIMATELY LED TO THE SHUT DOWN HAPPENED BEFORE THE POLICY PERIOD (FIRST DEPT))

 

INSURANCE LAW.

OPERATIVE DATE FOR POLICY COVERAGE WAS THE DATE THE POWER GENERATING TURBINE WAS TAKEN OUT OF SERVICE, EVEN THOUGH THE DAMAGE WHICH ULTIMATELY LED TO THE SHUT DOWN HAPPENED BEFORE THE POLICY PERIOD (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department determined the loss of a power-generating turbine was covered by the insurance policy even though the damage preceded the policy period. The turbine was taken out of service when a crack triggered a shut-down. Even though the crack occurred prior to the shut-down and lengthened over time, the operative date was when the turbine was taken out of service:

[The power company] makes a claim under the subject insurance policy for coverage of losses that resulted when a power-generating turbine (Unit 30) ... was taken out of operation on September 12, 2008 (during the policy period), due to excessive vibrations. The vibrations were found to have been caused by a nine-inch crack in Unit 30's rotor. Unit 30 functioned according to an alarm and trip system, with protocols established when the policy was underwritten. According to these protocols, Unit 30 was functioning properly until September 12, 2008, notwithstanding that the crack had begun to form before the inception of the policy period; moreover, it is undisputed that the crack had continued to lengthen during the policy period. Therefore, the loss occurred on September 12, 2008 - the discrete event of physical loss or damage triggering the time element coverage - when the unit was taken out of operation due to the excessive vibrations, and [the power company's] property sustained a physical loss or damage during the policy period. Since there is no provision in the policy that excludes physical loss or damage originating prior to the commencement of the policy period, the policy covers the loss ... . National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v TransCanada Energy USA, Inc., 2017 NY Slip Op 06513, 1st Dept 9-19-17

 

LANDLORD-TENANT (PETITIONER'S RENT SUBSIDY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED BASED UPON THE UNWANTED PRESENCE IN THE HOME OF A FORMER INTIMATE PARTNER, TERMINATION OF BENEFITS VIOLATED THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (LANDLORD-TENANT, RENT SUBSIDY, PETITIONER'S RENT SUBSIDY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED BASED UPON THE UNWANTED PRESENCE IN THE HOME OF A FORMER INTIMATE PARTNER, TERMINATION OF BENEFITS VIOLATED THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (SECOND DEPT))/RENT SUBSIDY (PETITIONER'S RENT SUBSIDY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED BASED UPON THE UNWANTED PRESENCE IN THE HOME OF A FORMER INTIMATE PARTNER, TERMINATION OF BENEFITS VIOLATED THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (SECOND DEPT))/SECTION 8  (PETITIONER'S RENT SUBSIDY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED BASED UPON THE UNWANTED PRESENCE IN THE HOME OF A FORMER INTIMATE PARTNER, TERMINATION OF BENEFITS VIOLATED THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (SECOND DEPT))

 

LANDLORD-TENANT, MUNICIPAL LAW.

PETITIONER'S RENT SUBSIDY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED BASED UPON THE UNWANTED PRESENCE IN THE HOME OF A FORMER INTIMATE PARTNER, TERMINATION OF BENEFITS VIOLATED THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Brathwaite Nelson, determined petitioner's rent subsidy benefits under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program should not have been terminated. The termination was based upon the presence of petitioner's former intimate partner, McGill, in the home. Petitioner demonstrated that McGill, who was abusive and whose presence was unwanted, was staying in the home without her permission. Termination of the rent subsidy benefits was deemed to violate the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):

After an administrative hearing, the determination to terminate [petitioner's] benefits was confirmed based upon the finding that she was obligated, but failed, to request permission to add ... McGill as an occupant to her subsidized apartment. ... [T]he petitioner was entitled to the housing protections of the Violence Against Women Act ... based upon uncontested hearing evidence establishing that she was subjected to an escalating pattern of stalking and abusive behavior and domestic violence by McGill, ... whose course of abusive and violent conduct against her included his unwanted presence in her apartment. ... [W]e conclude that [petitioner] was entitled to the housing protections of the VAWA, which prohibited her termination from the program on this ground ... . Matter of Johnson v Palumbo, 2017 NY Slip Op 06534, 2nd Dept 9-20-17

NEGLIGENCE (SLIP AND FALL, RESTAURANT DID NOT DEMONSTRATE WHEN THE AREA OF THE SLIP AND FALL HAD LAST BEEN CLEANED OR INSPECTED, SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/SLIP AND FALL (RESTAURANT DID NOT DEMONSTRATE WHEN THE AREA OF THE SLIP AND FALL HAD LAST BEEN CLEANED OR INSPECTED, SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE.

RESTAURANT DID NOT DEMONSTRATE WHEN THE AREA OF THE SLIP AND FALL HAD LAST BEEN CLEANED OR INSPECTED, SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the defendant restaurant (Carrabba's) was not entitled to summary judgment in this slip and fall case. The restaurant did not demonstrate when the area had last been cleaned or inspected:

To meet its initial burden on the issue of lack of constructive notice, the defendant must offer some evidence as to when the area in question was last cleaned or inspected relative to the time when the plaintiff fell ... . In this case, Carrabba's failed to satisfy its initial burden on this issue. The deposition testimony of Carrabba's manager and cleaning employee referred to Carrabba's general daily cleaning practices. Both deponents testified that they did not remember any specific cleaning or inspection of the area of the plaintiff's fall on the date of the accident, thereby failing to make out a prima facie showing of lack of constructive notice. Lombardo v Kimco Cent. Islip Venture, LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 06531, 2nd Dept 9-20-17

 

NEGLIGENCE (RES IPSA LOQUITUR DID NOT APPLY TO APARTMENT CEILING COLLAPSE BECAUSE LANDLORD DID NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER LANDLORD BREACHED DUTY TO KEEP PREMISES SAFE (SECOND DEPT))/LANDLORD-TENANT (NEGLIGENCE, RES IPSA LOQUITUR DID NOT APPLY TO APARTMENT CEILING COLLAPSE BECAUSE LANDLORD DID NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER LANDLORD BREACHED DUTY TO KEEP PREMISES SAFE (SECOND DEPT))/RES IPSA LOQUITUR (LANDLORD-TENANT, RES IPSA LOQUITUR DID NOT APPLY TO APARTMENT CEILING COLLAPSE BECAUSE LANDLORD DID NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER LANDLORD BREACHED DUTY TO KEEP PREMISES SAFE (SECOND DEPT))

 

NEGLIGENCE, LANDLORD-TENANT.

RES IPSA LOQUITUR DID NOT APPLY TO APARTMENT CEILING COLLAPSE BECAUSE LANDLORD DID NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER LANDLORD BREACHED DUTY TO KEEP PREMISES SAFE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined defendant landlord's motion for summary judgment was properly denied. Plaintiff alleged a portion of the ceiling of her apartment fell down, injuring her. She alleged a standard negligence theory (failure to keep the premises safe) and a cause of action under the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. The court noted that the res ipsa loquitur doctrine was not available because plaintiff had been in the apartment for more than a year and therefore defendant did not have exclusive control over it. However there was evidence defendant had notice of a problem with the ceiling:

... [T]he defendant failed to establish, prima facie, that she maintained the premises in a reasonably safe condition. In a premises liability case, a defendant property owner who moves for summary judgment has the initial burden of making a prima facie showing that she or he neither created the allegedly dangerous or defective condition nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence ... .

Here, in support of her motion, the defendant submitted, inter alia, the deposition testimony of the plaintiff, who testified that she had previously complained to the building superintendent, Jose Martinez, that the ceiling was damaged and water-stained, and that she feared it might fall on her. The plaintiff also testified that the defendant had advised her to inform Martinez of any complaints about her apartment. Under the circumstances, the defendant failed to establish, prima facie, that she had no notice of the alleged hazardous condition ... . Correa v Matsias, 2017 NY Slip Op 06520, 2nd Dept 9-20-17

PRODUCTS LIABILITY (COUNTERCLAIMS FOR CONTRIBUTION AND INDEMNIFICATION BASED UPON NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION OF THE INJURED CHILD ARE NOT PROPER IN A PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (PRODUCTS LIABILITY, COUNTERCLAIMS FOR CONTRIBUTION AND INDEMNIFICATION BASED UPON NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION OF THE INJURED CHILD ARE NOT PROPER IN A PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/INDEMNIFICATION (PRODUCTS LIABILITY, COUNTERCLAIMS FOR CONTRIBUTION AND INDEMNIFICATION BASED UPON NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION OF THE INJURED CHILD ARE NOT PROPER IN A PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/CONTRIBUTION (PRODUCTS LIABILITY, COUNTERCLAIMS FOR CONTRIBUTION AND INDEMNIFICATION BASED UPON NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION OF THE INJURED CHILD ARE NOT PROPER IN A PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACTION (SECOND DEPT))

PRODUCTS LIABILITY, CIVIL PROCEDURE.

COUNTERCLAIMS FOR CONTRIBUTION AND INDEMNIFICATION BASED UPON NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION OF THE INJURED CHILD ARE NOT PROPER IN A PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACTION (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined the defendant manufacturer was not entitled to amend its answer with counterclaims for indemnification and contribution based upon negligent supervision by the injured child's mother in this products liability action. The child was injured by blender blades. The blender was on the kitchen counter but was not running at the time:

... [P]laintiff's ... four-year-old daughter allegedly was injured when her hand came into contact with the blades of a hand-held stick blender that was left on the kitchen counter, plugged in but not running, while the plaintiff went to retrieve something from the freezer. The plaintiff commenced this action ... to recover damages for strict products liability and breach of warranty against the defendants, which allegedly manufactured and sold the blender. The defendants moved for leave to amend their answer to assert a counterclaim against the plaintiff for contribution and indemnification. ...

In the absence of prejudice or surprise resulting directly from the delay in seeking leave, applications for leave to amend a pleading are to be freely granted "unless the proposed amendment is palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit"... . Here, the acts complained of in the proposed counterclaim did not implicate a duty owed to the public at large, but rather, only gave rise to an allegation that the plaintiff negligently supervised her child, which cannot serve as the basis for cognizable claims for contribution or indemnification ... . The proposed amendment was, therefore, palpably insufficient, and the Supreme Court properly denied the defendants' motion. Siragusa v Conair Corp., 2017 NY Slip Op 06564, Second Dept 9-20-17