JUST RELEASED

September Page IV

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

 

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ARBITRATION (EMPLOYMENT LAW, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (TEACHERS, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW  (TEACHERS, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/TEACHERS (EMPLOYMENT LAW, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/UNIONS (TEACHERS, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (TEACHERS, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))

 

ARBITRATION, EMPLOYMENT LAW, EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW.

SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE PROPER PAY FOR A TEACHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined a matter concerning the proper pay for a teacher was arbitrable under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The school districts (petitioner's) motion to permanently stay arbitration should not have been granted:

... [R]espondent (union) filed a grievance on behalf of one of its members, a teacher, alleging that petitioner had violated the provisions of the CBA that require petitioner to maintain salary schedules in an ethical manner, to adjust teacher salaries based on graduate credits earned, and to abide by the salary schedules. ...

It is well settled that courts must apply a two-part test to determine whether a matter is subject to arbitration under a CBA ... . "First, the court must determine whether there is any statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitration of the grievance' " ... . If there is no such prohibition, the court must examine the CBA to determine "whether the parties in fact agreed to arbitrate the particular dispute" ... . ...

 

... [T]he arbitration of disputes concerning public school teachers' salaries is not proscribed by law or public policy, and thus only the second prong is at issue ... .

 

... The dispute concerns whether petitioner placed the teacher at the correct step of the salary schedule and paid her properly based on the graduate credits that she earned, and thus it is reasonably related to the general subject matter of the CBA ...  Issues concerning whether the CBA supports a grievance arising from the initial placement of a new employee on the salary schedule, as opposed to the proper payment of an existing employee, "are matters involving the scope of the substantive [CBA] provisions and, as such, are for the arbitrator" to resolve ... . ... [T]he clause in the CBA stating that an arbitrator has "no power to alter, add to, or detract from" the CBA does not render the dispute nonarbitrable ... . Matter of Thousand Is. Cent. Sch. Dist. v Thousand Is. Educ. Assn., 2017 NY Slip Op 06759, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

 

ARBITRATION (COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE CONTESTED PROMOTION OF A SHERIFF'S DISPATCHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE CONTESTED PROMOTION OF A SHERIFF'S DISPATCHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW  (COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE CONTESTED PROMOTION OF A SHERIFF'S DISPATCHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (ARBITRATION, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE CONTESTED PROMOTION OF A SHERIFF'S DISPATCHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))/UNIONS (ARBITRATION, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE CONTESTED PROMOTION OF A SHERIFF'S DISPATCHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT))

 

ARBITRATION, EMPLOYMENT LAW, MUNICIPAL LAW.

SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE CONTESTED PROMOTION OF A SHERIFF'S DISPATCHER WAS ARBITRABLE UNDER THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the petitioner-county's motion to permanently stay arbitration should not have been granted. The respondent-union filed a grievance on behalf of a part-time sheriff's dispatcher when another dispatcher was made full-time:

The Court of Appeals has set forth a two-pronged test to determine "whether a grievance is arbitrable" (Matter of City of Johnstown [Johnstown Police Benevolent Assn.], 99 NY2d 273, 278 [Johnstown] ...). In the first prong of the test, known as "the may-they-arbitrate' prong," we "ask whether there is any statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitration of the grievance" ... . If we conclude that arbitration is not prohibited, we move to the second prong, known as "the did-they-agree-to-arbitrate' prong," in which we "examine the CBA to determine if the parties have agreed to arbitrate the dispute at issue" ... .

 

Here, petitioner does not contend that arbitration of [the dispatcher's] grievance is prohibited, and we therefore are concerned only with the second prong of the Johnstown test. With respect to that issue, "[i]t is well settled that, in deciding an application to stay or compel arbitration under CPLR 7503, the court is concerned only with the threshold determination of arbitrability, and not with the merits of the underlying claim"... . Furthermore, "[w]here, as here, there is a broad arbitration clause and a reasonable relationship' between the subject matter of the dispute and the general subject matter of the parties' [CBA], the court should rule the matter arbitrable, and the arbitrator will then make a more exacting interpretation of the precise scope of the substantive provisions of the [CBA], and whether the subject matter of the dispute fits within them' " ... . Matter of Lewis County (CSEA Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Lewis County Sheriff's Empls. Unit #7250-03, Lewis County Local 825), 2017 NY Slip Op 06743, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

CIVIL PROCEDURE (SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE AWARDED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON A CAUSE OF ACTION (ACCOUNT STATED) NOT RAISED IN THE MOTION PAPERS (FOURTH DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE AWARDED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON A CAUSE OF ACTION (ACCOUNT STATED) NOT RAISED IN THE MOTION PAPERS (FOURTH DEPT))/SUMMARY JUDGMENT  (SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE AWARDED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON A CAUSE OF ACTION (ACCOUNT STATED) NOT RAISED IN THE MOTION PAPERS (FOURTH DEPT))/JUDGES  (SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE AWARDED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON A CAUSE OF ACTION (ACCOUNT STATED) NOT RAISED IN THE MOTION PAPERS (FOURTH DEPT))

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONTRACT LAW.

SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE AWARDED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON A CAUSE OF ACTION (ACCOUNT STATED) NOT RAISED IN THE MOTION PAPERS (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the award of attorney's fees and 18% interest in this breach of contract action was error. Summary judgment cannot be granted by the court, sua sponte, on a ground (account stated) not raised in the motion papers:

... [T]he court erred in awarding attorney's fees and prejudgment interest at the rate of 18% based on an unpleaded account stated theory. The record establishes that plaintiff neither pleaded an account stated theory nor moved for summary judgment on that ground ... . It is well settled that, generally, a party may not obtain summary judgment on an unpleaded cause of action... , but there is an exception to that general rule where the proof supports such a cause of action and the opposing party has not been misled to its prejudice ... . Here, we conclude that defendant was substantially prejudiced by the court's sua sponte reliance on the unpleaded account stated theory ... . Indeed, we note that plaintiff's moving and reply papers did not even mention that theory, nor did they mention attorney's fees or interest at the rate of 18% per annum ... .

 

We conclude that the court further erred in searching the record pursuant to CPLR 3212 (b) and granting summary judgment on an account stated theory to plaintiff, the moving party. Although a court has the authority to search the record and grant summary judgment to a nonmoving party (see id.), that authority is applicable "only with respect to a [claim] or issue that is the subject of the motions before the court"... . Here, plaintiff was the moving party and an account stated theory was not the subject of the motion before the court. Diamond Roofing Co., Inc. v PCL Props., LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 06745, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

CIVIL PROCEDURE (MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT MADE BEFORE PLAINTIFF CLOSED ITS CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED, MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT BASED UPON PLAINTIFF'S ADMISSIONS PROPERLY GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/DIRECTED VERDICT, MOTION FOR  (MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT MADE BEFORE PLAINTIFF CLOSED ITS CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED, MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT BASED UPON PLAINTIFF'S ADMISSIONS PROPERLY GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))CONTRACT LAW (INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT VOID UNDER GENERAL OBLIGATIONS LAW (FIRST DEPT))/GENERAL OBLIGATIONS LAW (INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT VOID UNDER GENERAL OBLIGATIONS LAW (FIRST DEPT))/INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT  (INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT VOID UNDER GENERAL OBLIGATIONS LAW (FIRST DEPT))/EVIDENCE  (MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT MADE BEFORE PLAINTIFF CLOSED ITS CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED, MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT BASED UPON PLAINTIFF'S ADMISSIONS PROPERLY GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONTRACT LAW, EVIDENCE.

MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT MADE BEFORE PLAINTIFF CLOSED ITS CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED, MOTION FOR DIRECTED VERDICT BASED UPON PLAINTIFF'S ADMISSIONS PROPERLY GRANTED, INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT VOID UNDER GENERAL OBLIGATIONS LAW (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing (in part) Supreme Court, determined one of defendant's motions for a directed verdict was premature because plaintiff had not finished presenting proof, a second motion for a directed verdict was properly granted based upon admissions made by plaintiff's witness, and a cross-claim based upon an indemnification agreement failed because the agreement purported to indemnify a party for its own negligence (in violation of the General Obligations Law). With respect to the premature motion for a directed verdict, the court wrote:

"Any party may move for judgment with respect to a cause of action or issue upon the ground that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, after the close of the evidence presented by an opposing party with respect to such cause of action or issue, or at any time on the basis of admissions."

 

In interpreting this provision, this Court has held that the requirement that a party opposing a directed verdict motion must have closed its presentation of evidence "must be strictly enforced" (Griffin v Clinton Green S., LLC, 98 AD3d 41, 46 [1st Dept 2012]). Further, we have held that "the grant of a dismissal [pursuant to CPLR 4401] prior to the close of the opposing party's case will be reversed as premature, even if the ultimate success of the opposing party in the action is improbable" ... . This Court in Griffin emphasized the importance of each party being "afford[ed] . . . a day in court" ... . * * *

[Defendant] essentially asks us to endorse a system whereby a party can make a directed verdict motion at any time during trial, so long as the party opposing the motion has put in some unspecified quantum of evidence that, though it may not have been everything the opposing party intended to put in, was sufficient for the trial court to determine that there were no issues of fact and it could decide for the movant as a matter of law. We decline to do so. 11 Essex St. Corp. v Tower Ins. Co. of N.Y., 2017 NY Slip Op 06709, First Dept 9-28-17

 

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE (CHEERLEADERS FOR BUFFALO BILLS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS A CLASS ALLEGING LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS AND FRAUD, EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN REPLY PAPERS PROPERLY CONSIDERED, THREE LAW FIRMS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS CLASS COUNSEL (FOURTH DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (CHEERLEADERS FOR BUFFALO BILLS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS A CLASS ALLEGING LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS AND FRAUD, EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN REPLY PAPERS PROPERLY CONSIDERED, THREE LAW FIRMS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS CLASS COUNSEL (FOURTH DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (CLASS ACTION,  CHEERLEADERS FOR BUFFALO BILLS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS A CLASS ALLEGING LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS AND FRAUD, EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN REPLY PAPERS PROPERLY CONSIDERED, THREE LAW FIRMS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS CLASS COUNSEL (FOURTH DEPT))/REPLY PAPERS (CIVIL PROCEDURE, EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN REPLY PAPERS PROPERLY CONSIDERED (FOURTH DEPT))/CLASS ACTIONS (EMPLOYMENT LAW, (CHEERLEADERS FOR BUFFALO BILLS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS A CLASS ALLEGING LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS AND FRAUD, THREE LAW FIRMS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS CLASS COUNSEL (FOURTH DEPT))

 

CIVIL PROCEDURE, EMPLOYMENT LAW, ATTORNEYS.

CHEERLEADERS FOR BUFFALO BILLS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS A CLASS ALLEGING LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS AND FRAUD, EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN REPLY PAPERS PROPERLY CONSIDERED, MULTIPLE LAW FIRMS PROPERLY CERTIFIED AS CLASS COUNSEL (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department determined members of the Buffalo Jills, cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills football team, were properly certified as a class to bring an action alleging Labor Law violations (failure to compensate) and fraud. The Fourth Department noted that evidence submitted in the reply papers was properly considered because the defendants had the opportunity to address the evidence and further noted Supreme Court properly certified three law firms as class counsel:

Class action is appropriate only if all five of the requirements are met ... , and the burden of establishing those requirements is on the party seeking certification ... . The first prerequisite is that the class must be so numerous that joinder of all of its members is impracticable (see CPLR 901 [a] [1]). ...

 

The second prerequisite is that there are common questions of law or fact that predominate over questions affecting only individual members (see CPLR 901 [a] [2]). ...

 

The third prerequisite is that the class representatives' claims are typical of the claims of the class (see CPLR 901 [a] [3]). ...

The fourth prerequisite is that the class representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interest of the class (see CPLR 901 [a] [4]). ...

 

The fifth prerequisite is that class action is the superior method to fairly and efficiently adjudicate the controversy (see CPLR 901 [a] [5]).  ...

 

... Once the section 901 (a) prerequisites have been met, a court must consider the class members' interest in prosecuting individual actions; the impracticality or inefficiency of prosecuting or defending separate actions; the extent and nature of any separate action already pending; the desirability of the forum; and the difficulties likely to be encountered in managing a class action (see CPLR 902...) ...

 

... [T]he court properly certified three law firms as class counsel. It is within the court's discretion to allow representation by more than one counsel ... . Ferrari v The Natl. Football League, 2017 NY Slip Op 06755, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

COOPERATIVES (COOPERATIVE BOARD'S DETERMINATION TO WAIVE THE CONSENT REQUIREMENT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SECOND-FLOOR TERRACE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE BUSINESS JUDGMENT RULE, THE BOARD'S RULING IS A PROPER SUBJECT OF AN ARTICLE 78 ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (ARTICLE 78, COOPERATIVE BOARD'S DETERMINATION TO WAIVE THE CONSENT REQUIREMENT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SECOND-FLOOR TERRACE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE BUSINESS JUDGMENT RULE, THE BOARD'S RULING IS A PROPER SUBJECT OF AN ARTICLE 78 ACTION (SECOND DEPT))/BUSINESS JUDGMENT RULE (COOPERATIVE BOARD'S DETERMINATION TO WAIVE THE CONSENT REQUIREMENT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SECOND-FLOOR TERRACE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE BUSINESS JUDGMENT RULE, THE BOARD'S RULING IS A PROPER SUBJECT OF AN ARTICLE 78 ACTION (SECOND DEPT))

COOPERATIVES, CIVIL PROCEDURE.

COOPERATIVE BOARD'S DETERMINATION TO WAIVE THE CONSENT REQUIREMENT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SECOND-FLOOR TERRACE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE BUSINESS JUDGMENT RULE, THE BOARD'S RULING IS A PROPER SUBJECT OF AN ARTICLE 78 ACTION (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the cooperative board should not have given the owner of a second-floor cooperative apartment (Haffey) permission to construct a second floor terrace without the consent of the investor-owner of the first-floor cooperative apartment. The cooperative's guidelines, which can be waived, required the first-floor owner's consent to the construction of a second-floor terrace. The board's decision singled out investor-owners for different treatment and cannot be justified under the business judgment rule. The court noted the board's determination is properly the subject of an Article 78 proceeding:

... [In] "the context of cooperative dwellings, the business judgment rule provides that a court should defer to a cooperative board's determination so long as the board acts for the purposes of the cooperative, within the scope of its authority and in good faith'" ... . "To trigger further judicial scrutiny, an aggrieved shareholder-tenant must make a showing that the board acted (1) outside the scope of its authority, (2) in a way that did not legitimately further the corporate purpose or (3) in bad faith"... . "[T]he broad powers of cooperative governance carry the potential for abuse when a board singles out a person for harmful treatment or engages in unlawful discrimination, vendetta, arbitrary decision making and favoritism" ... .

 

... [T]he board's determination to dispense with the consent requirement and allow Haffey to erect the subject terrace without the petitioner's consent was not protected by the business judgment rule. By dispensing with the petitioner's consent, and, more generally, the consent of first-floor shareholders-tenants who do not reside in the building, the board deliberately singled out the petitioner, as well as tenant-shareholders who do not reside on the premises, for harmful treatment and engaged in favoritism toward tenants-shareholders who resided on the premises. As such, the petitioner established that the board's determination to dispense with his consent did not legitimately further the corporate purpose and was made in bad faith ... . Matter of Dicker v Glen Oaks Vil. Owners, Inc., 2017 NY Slip Op 06645, Second Dept 9-27-17

CONTRACT LAW (EMAILS DID NOT EXPLICITLY WAIVE THE INITIAL AGREEMENT THAT THE PARTIES WOULD NOT BE BOUND UNTIL A FORMAL AGREEMENT WAS EXECUTED, NO CONTRACT WAS CREATED (FIRST DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (CONTRACT LAW, EMAILS DID NOT EXPLICITLY WAIVE THE INITIAL AGREEMENT THAT THE PARTIES WOULD NOT BE BOUND UNTIL A FORMAL AGREEMENT WAS EXECUTED, NO CONTRACT WAS CREATED (FIRST DEPT))

CONTRACT LAW, EMPLOYMENT LAW.

EMAILS DID NOT EXPLICITLY WAIVE THE INITIAL AGREEMENT THAT THE PARTIES WOULD NOT BE BOUND UNTIL A FORMAL AGREEMENT WAS EXECUTED, NO CONTRACT WAS CREATED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department determined the complaint in this employment contract action was properly dismissed. The term sheet relied upon by plaintiff included a clause indicating neither party would be bound until a more formal agreement was executed. Subsequent emails including the phrase "firm and binding" did not waive the formal agreement required by the term sheet:

Plaintiff's allegations that his agent requested that any offer be "firm and binding," that defendant's agent acknowledged this request, that internal communications between defendant and its agents reveal an intention to make a firm offer, that the cover email transmitting the term sheet labeled the offer "firm and binding," and that defendant later offered a fee to "kill" the contract are not sufficient to negate or demonstrate a waiver of the provision that the parties would not be bound until they executed a formal written agreement ... .Morever, waiver of a contractual provision "should not be lightly presumed," "must be unmistakably manifested, and is not to be inferred from a doubtful or equivocal act" ... . Plaintiff's agent's demand for a firm offer and defendant's agent's acknowledgment of this request, before consulting with her client, prove nothing about what was ultimately agreed. Nor do defendant and its agents' internal communications preceding the offer, to which plaintiff was not privy, prove what was ultimately agreed. Keitel v E*TRADE Fin. Corp., 2017 NY Slip Op 06624, First Dept 9-26-17

 

CORPORATION LAW (CORPORATE OFFICER COULD BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR CONVERSION AND FRAUD, CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST THE OFFICER PERSONALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS SHIELDED BY THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE (SECOND DEPT))/INTENTIONAL TORTS (CORPORATE OFFICERS, PERSONAL LIABILITY, CORPORATE OFFICER COULD BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR CONVERSION AND FRAUD, CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST THE OFFICER PERSONALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS SHIELDED BY THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE (SECOND DEPT))/FRAUD (CORPORATE OFFICERS, PERSONAL LIABILITY, CORPORATE OFFICER COULD BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR CONVERSION AND FRAUD, CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST THE OFFICER PERSONALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS SHIELDED BY THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE (SECOND DEPT))/CONVERSION (CORPORATE OFFICERS, PERSONAL LIABILITY, CORPORATE OFFICER COULD BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR CONVERSION AND FRAUD, CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST THE OFFICER PERSONALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS SHIELDED BY THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE (SECOND DEPT))/OFFICERS (CORPORATE OFFICER COULD BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR CONVERSION AND FRAUD, CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST THE OFFICER PERSONALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS SHIELDED BY THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE (SECOND DEPT))

 

CORPORATION LAW, INTENTIONAL TORTS, FRAUD.

CORPORATE OFFICER COULD BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR CONVERSION AND FRAUD, CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST THE OFFICER PERSONALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS SHIELDED BY THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that defendant (Cina), an officer of defendant corporation (Artisan), could be held personally liable for his tortious acts. Supreme Court had held the corporate structure insulated Cina from personal liability. It was alleged Cina misrepresented that limestone had been stolen, inducing plaintiff to purchase replacement limestone:

"A director or officer of a corporation does not incur personal liability for its torts merely by reason of his [or her] official character" ... , and thus, cannot be liable for torts "attributable to the corporation if he [or she] did not participate in and was not connected with the acts in any manner" ... . However, " [a] corporate officer who participates in the commission of a tort may be held individually liable, regardless of whether the officer acted on behalf of the corporation in the course of official duties and regardless of whether the corporate veil is pierced'" ... .

Here, the Supreme Court incorrectly directed the dismissal of the causes of action alleging conversion and fraud insofar as asserted against Cina on the ground that there was "no basis on which to pierce the corporate veil." The complaint adequately alleged that Cina participated in the act allegedly constituting conversion by asserting that Cina arranged to have the replacement limestone delivered to [another party] instead of the plaintiff, and that he participated in the alleged fraud by knowingly misrepresenting the facts regarding the delivery of the original limestone, with the intent of inducing the plaintiff's detrimental reliance. That Cina's alleged conduct may have been committed "on behalf of the corporation in the course of official duties" does not prevent liability from being imposed upon him ... . North Shore Architectural Stone, Inc. v American Artisan Constr., Inc., 2017 NY Slip Op 06655, Second Dept 9-27-17

 

CRIMINAL LAW (FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/JURORS (CRIMINAL LAW, FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/FOR CAUSE JUROR CHALLENGE  (FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW.

FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing defendant's conviction, determined the for cause challenge to a jury should have been granted. The juror exhibited a bias in favor of the credibility of police officers:

The court should have granted defendant's challenge for cause to a prospective juror, a police officer who stated on voir dire that he believed that the testimony of police witnesses would be accurate, except insofar as they were relaying inaccurate information provided by a victim or other witness. Pressed by defense counsel on whether he thought it was possible for a police witness to lie, exaggerate, or be mistaken, the prospective juror allowed that there was "a little room" for this and stated that he "suppose[d]" it was possible.

 

"[A] prospective juror whose statements raise a serious doubt regarding the ability to be impartial must be excused unless the juror states unequivocally on the record that he or she can be fair and impartial" ... . Bias expressed by a prospective juror is purged only when, in response to additional inquiry, the juror is able to "voice[] with conviction" that he or she will be able to render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence and the court's instructions ... . The link between the biased state of mind previously indicated by the prospective juror's statements and the assurance of the ability to render an impartial verdict "must be evident" ... . "Where there remains any doubt in the wake of such statements, . . . the prospective jurors should be discharged for cause" ... .

 

The panelist clearly showed a predisposition to believe that police officers testify truthfully ... . Viewed as a whole, his responses to followup questions did not "expressly state that his prior state of mind . . . [would] not influence his verdict" ... . People v Whitefield, 2017 NY Slip Op 06618, First Dept 9-26-17

 

CRIMINAL LAW (JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON ARSON FOURTH (RECKLESS) AS A LESSER INCLUDED OF ARSON SECOND (INTENTIONAL), NEW TRIAL ORDERED (FIRST DEPT))/JURY INSTRUCTIONS (CRIMINAL LAW, ARSON, JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON ARSON FOURTH (RECKLESS) AS A LESSER INCLUDED OF ARSON SECOND (INTENTIONAL), NEW TRIAL ORDERED (FIRST DEPT))/LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE (ARSON, JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON ARSON FOURTH (RECKLESS) AS A LESSER INCLUDED OF ARSON SECOND (INTENTIONAL), NEW TRIAL ORDERED (FIRST DEPT))/ARSON (JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON ARSON FOURTH (RECKLESS) AS A LESSER INCLUDED OF ARSON SECOND (INTENTIONAL), NEW TRIAL ORDERED (FIRST DEPT))

 

CRIMINAL LAW.

JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON ARSON FOURTH (RECKLESS) AS A LESSER INCLUDED OF ARSON SECOND (INTENTIONAL), NEW TRIAL ORDERED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing defendant's arson second conviction, determined the jury should have been instructed on the lesser included offense of arson fourth:

The relevant difference between these crimes in this case is that second-degree arson involves intentionally damaging a building by starting a fire, while fourth-degree arson involves recklessly damaging a building by intentionally starting a fire ... . Viewed in the light most favorable to defendant, there was a reasonable view of the evidence that he did not intend to damage his apartment, or any other part of the building, by setting a fire to a video game console, and that his sole object in doing so was to kill himself through smoke inhalation. It cannot be said that the only interpretation of defendant's actions was that he intended to damage the building by fire. Although a natural and probable consequence of setting the fire was that the fire would damage the building, this did not conclusively establish such an intent, which was for the jury to decide ... . On these facts, the jury could have found that, rather than actually intending to cause damage, defendant was "aware of and consciously disregard[ed] a substantial and unjustifiable risk that [damage would] occur" ... . People v Acevedo, 2017 NY Slip Op 06626, First Dept 9-26-17

 

CRIMINAL LAW (MANIFEST NECESSITY JUSTIFIED DECLARATION OF A MISTRIAL OVER DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION, COMPLAINANT IN THIS SEX OFFENSE TRIAL COULD NOT BE LOCATED (SECOND DEPT))/MISTRIAL (CRIMINAL LAW, MANIFEST NECESSITY JUSTIFIED DECLARATION OF A MISTRIAL OVER DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION, COMPLAINANT IN THIS SEX OFFENSE TRIAL COULD NOT BE LOCATED (SECOND DEPT))/MANIFEST NECESSITY (MISTRIAL, CRIMINAL LAW, MANIFEST NECESSITY JUSTIFIED DECLARATION OF A MISTRIAL OVER DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION, COMPLAINANT IN THIS SEX OFFENSE TRIAL COULD NOT BE LOCATED (SECOND DEPT))

 

CRIMINAL LAW.

MANIFEST NECESSITY JUSTIFIED DECLARATION OF A MISTRIAL OVER DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION, COMPLAINANT IN THIS SEX OFFENSE TRIAL COULD NOT BE LOCATED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined manifest necessity justified the declaration of the mistrial over the defendant's objection because a crucial prosecution witness (the complainant in a sex offense prosecution) could not be located. Although there was no evidence the defendant caused the witness's unavailability, there was evidence the witness's mother was responsible:

The petitioner was charged with course of sexual conduct against a child in the second degree and predatory sexual assault against a child, and the case proceeded to trial. After the jury was sworn, but before opening statements were made and before any testimony was offered, the prosecutor requested three consecutive continuances, as the complainant and her mother could not be located . * * *

When a mistrial is granted over the defendant's objection or without the defendant's consent, a retrial is precluded unless " there was manifest necessity for the mistrial or the ends of public justice would be defeated'" ... . " Manifest necessity'" means a " high degree of necessity'" based on reasons that are " actual and substantial'"... . Moreover, before declaring a mistrial, a court must explore all appropriate alternatives and must provide a sufficient basis in the record for resorting to this "drastic measure" ... . Where a mistrial is premised upon the claimed unavailability of crucial prosecution evidence, including witnesses, the validity of that claim is subject to the "strictest scrutiny" since a prosecutor is not entitled to a mistrial merely to gain a more favorable opportunity to convict ... .

 

Here, the prosecutor made a sufficient showing that the unavailability of the 13-year-old complainant, who had absconded to an unknown location with her mother, could be factually attributed to some person acting on the petitioner's behalf ... . Moreover, the trial court properly gave the prosecutor additional time to find the witness and considered other alternatives, including the prosecutor's application for leave to introduce at the trial the witness's grand jury testimony.  Matter of Palacios v Singas, 2017 NY Slip Op 06652, Second Dept 9-27-17

 

CRIMINAL LAW (DEFENDANT SUFFICIENTLY RAISED THE FIRST STEP OF A BATSON CHALLENGE TO A PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE EXERCISED BY THE PEOPLE, BUT THE NEXT STEPS IN THE BATSON PROCEDURE WERE NOT TAKEN, ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS CONVICTED AFTER A JURY TRIAL, THE MATTER WAS REMITTED TO COMPLETE THE BATSON PROCEDURE (FOURTH DEPT))/JURORS (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT SUFFICIENTLY RAISED THE FIRST STEP OF A BATSON CHALLENGE TO A PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE EXERCISED BY THE PEOPLE, BUT THE NEXT STEPS IN THE BATSON PROCEDURE WERE NOT TAKEN, ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS CONVICTED AFTER A JURY TRIAL, THE MATTER WAS REMITTED TO COMPLETE THE BATSON PROCEDURE (FOURTH DEPT))/BATSON PROCEDURE (JURORS, DEFENDANT SUFFICIENTLY RAISED THE FIRST STEP OF A BATSON CHALLENGE TO A PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE EXERCISED BY THE PEOPLE, BUT THE NEXT STEPS IN THE BATSON PROCEDURE WERE NOT TAKEN, ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS CONVICTED AFTER A JURY TRIAL, THE MATTER WAS REMITTED TO COMPLETE THE BATSON PROCEDURE (FOURTH DEPT))

 

CRIMINAL LAW.

DEFENDANT SUFFICIENTLY RAISED THE FIRST STEP OF A BATSON CHALLENGE TO A PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE EXERCISED BY THE PEOPLE, BUT THE NEXT STEPS IN THE BATSON PROCEDURE WERE NOT TAKEN, ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS CONVICTED AFTER A JURY TRIAL, THE MATTER WAS REMITTED TO COMPLETE THE BATSON PROCEDURE (FOURTH DEPT). 

The Fourth Department determined defendant had adequately raised a Batson challenge to the prosecutor's removal of a juror. Because the next steps in the Batson procedure were not taken the case was remitted for that purpose (after a jury trial and conviction):

We agree with defendant that he met his initial burden on his Batson application by demonstrating that the prosecution exercised a peremptory challenge to remove a member of a cognizable racial group from the venire, "and that there exist facts and other relevant circumstances sufficient to raise an inference that the prosecution used its peremptory challenge[] to exclude [that] potential juror[] because of [her] race"... . We note that "the first-step burden in a Batson challenge is not intended to be onerous" ... , and that the initial burden is met when " the totality of the relevant facts gives rise to an inference of discriminatory purpose' " ... . Here, defendant is African-American, and the first prospective juror to be peremptorily challenged by the People was the only African-American on the panel. Neither the People nor defendant asked any questions of the prospective juror at issue during voir dire, and County Court's general questioning of the panel raised no issues that would distinguish her from the other prospective jurors. Inasmuch as there is a basis in the record to infer that the People exercised the peremptory challenge in a discriminatory manner, the burden shifted to the People to articulate a nondiscriminatory reason for striking the juror, and the court then should have determined whether the proffered reason was pretextual ... . We therefore hold the case, reserve decision, and remit the matter to County Court for that purpose ... . People v Davis, 2017 NY Slip Op 06790, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

CRIMINAL LAW (WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID, DENIAL OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS ENCOMPASSED BY WAIVER OF APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/APPEALS (CRIMINAL LAW, DENIAL OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS ENCOMPASSED BY WAIVER OF APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (PROBATION CONDITIONS, WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID (FOURTH DEPT))/SEARCH AND SEIZURE (PROBATION CONDITIONS, WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID (FOURTH DEPT))/PROBATION (WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID, DENIAL OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS ENCOMPASSED BY WAIVER OF APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/WAIVER OF APPEAL (WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID, DENIAL OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS ENCOMPASSED BY WAIVER OF APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))/SEXUAL ABUSE (PROBATION CONDITIONS, WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID, DENIAL OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS ENCOMPASSED BY WAIVER OF APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, APPEALS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

WAIVER OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS AS CONDITION OF PROBATION INVALID, DENIAL OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS ENCOMPASSED BY WAIVER OF APPEAL (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department determined the denial of youthful offender status was not appealable as it was encompassed by the waiver of appeal. The Fourth Department further determined the purported waiver of defendant's Fourth Amendment rights as a condition of probation was not valid because there was no relationship between the waiver and the sexual-abuse offense to which defendant pled guilty. The invalid conditions allowed searches of his person, home and personal property, breath, blood and urine testing, and prohibited use or possession of alcohol:

Defendant ... contends that various conditions of his probation are not authorized by Penal Law § 65.10. We agree with defendant that his contention is not precluded by the waiver of the right to appeal and does not require preservation inasmuch as his challenges to those conditions implicate the legality of the sentence ... . We agree with defendant that the document he signed requiring him to consent to waive his Fourth Amendment right protecting him from unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, home, and personal property, and to submit to chemical tests of his breath, blood, or urine, is not enforceable because it was not related to the probationary goal of rehabilitation ... . The waiver and consent to search was ostensibly based on defendant's acknowledgment that his criminal behavior was related to drug/alcohol abuse, but in fact there was no evidence that defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he committed the offense or had a history of drug or alcohol abuse ... . For similar reasons, we agree with defendant that special condition nine of the conditions of probation, which required him to abstain from the use or possession of alcoholic beverages and to submit to appropriate alcohol testing, is also not enforceable and must be stricken. People v Saraceni, 2017 NY Slip Op 06732, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

 

 

CRIMINAL LAW (INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, DEPORTATION, DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO INFORM DEFENDANT OF THE MANDATORY DEPORTATION CONSEQUENCE OF HIS GUILTY PLEA, DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, GUILTY PLEA SHOULD HAVE BEEN VACATED (SECOND DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (CRIMINAL LAW, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, DEPORTATION, DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO INFORM DEFENDANT OF THE MANDATORY DEPORTATION CONSEQUENCE OF HIS GUILTY PLEA, DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, GUILTY PLEA SHOULD HAVE BEEN VACATED (SECOND DEPT))/INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE (DEPORTATION,  DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO INFORM DEFENDANT OF THE MANDATORY DEPORTATION CONSEQUENCE OF HIS GUILTY PLEA, DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, GUILTY PLEA SHOULD HAVE BEEN VACATED (SECOND DEPT))/DEPORTATION (CRIMINAL LAW, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO INFORM DEFENDANT OF THE MANDATORY DEPORTATION CONSEQUENCE OF HIS GUILTY PLEA, DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, GUILTY PLEA SHOULD HAVE BEEN VACATED (SECOND DEPT))

 

CRIMINAL LAW, ATTORNEYS.

DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO INFORM DEFENDANT OF THE MANDATORY DEPORTATION CONSEQUENCE OF HIS GUILTY PLEA, DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE, GUILTY PLEA SHOULD HAVE BEEN VACATED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, in a substantive decision, determined defendant's motion to vacate his guilty plea on ineffective assistance grounds should have been granted. Defendant was not informed by his attorney that the plea would trigger mandatory deportation:

... [D]efense counsel incorrectly advised the defendant that his plea of guilty to grand larceny in the second degree would preserve his eligibility to apply for a cancellation of removal, when, in fact, his conviction constituted an aggravated felony, rendering him mandatorily deportable and ineligible for cancellation of removal ... . Courts have recognized the significance to a defendant, in pleading guilty, of a possibility of discretionary relief from removal ... . The lack of such a possibility here was "succinct, clear, and explicit" and could have been determined simply from reading the text of the statute ... . Thus, counsel had a duty to give correct advice as to the immigration consequences of the plea ... . Counsel failed to do so, instead misadvising the defendant that there was a possibility of receiving a cancellation of removal. * * *

Given the circumstances here, including the defendant's focus on the immigration consequences of his plea, his large incentive to negotiate a plea which did not render him mandatorily deportable without eligibility for relief, the possibility of offering the People such a plea with the same sentence or even a longer aggregate sentence, and the fact that the prosecutor was unconcerned with the immigration consequences of the plea, the defendant established a reasonable probability that he could have negotiated a plea agreement that did not impose mandatory deportation without eligibility for relief ... . Thus, the defendant established the requisite prejudice from counsel's misadvice under Strickland, and further that counsel's error was "egregious and prejudicial" such that it denied him meaningful representation under the New York Constitution ... . People v Abdallah, 2017 NY Slip Op 06657, Second Dept 9-27-17

 

CRIMINAL LAW (DEFENDANT SAID HE WOULD NOT GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITHOUT A PARENT OR AN ATTORNEY, THAT CONSTITUTED AN ASSERTION OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL, SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FOURTH DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT SAID HE WOULD NOT GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITHOUT A PARENT OR AN ATTORNEY, THAT CONSTITUTED AN ASSERTION OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL, SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FOURTH DEPT))/EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, SUPPRESSION, DEFENDANT SAID HE WOULD NOT GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITHOUT A PARENT OR AN ATTORNEY, THAT CONSTITUTED AN ASSERTION OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL, SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FOURTH DEPT))/SUPPRESSION (CRIMINAL LAW, STATEMENT, DEFENDANT SAID HE WOULD NOT GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITHOUT A PARENT OR AN ATTORNEY, THAT CONSTITUTED AN ASSERTION OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL, SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FOURTH DEPT))/RIGHT TO COUNSEL (CRIMINAL LAW, SUPPRESSION, DEFENDANT SAID HE WOULD NOT GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITHOUT A PARENT OR AN ATTORNEY, THAT CONSTITUTED AN ASSERTION OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL, SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FOURTH DEPT))

 

CRIMINAL LAW, ATTORNEYS, EVIDENCE.

DEFENDANT SAID HE WOULD NOT GO TO THE POLICE STATION WITHOUT A PARENT OR AN ATTORNEY, THAT CONSTITUTED AN ASSERTION OF HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL, SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing County Court, determined defendant had asserted his right to counsel by saying he would not go to the police station without a parent or an attorney. Therefore the motion to suppress the subsequent statement should have been granted. Before the defendant went to the station, the police, at defendant's request, took the defendant to see a man defendant described as like a father to him. The man accompanied the police and defendant to the station and spoke with the defendant before the defendant waived his rights a made a statement:

In People v Stroh (48 NY2d 1000, 1001), the defendant told the police that "he would like to have either an attorney or a priest to talk to, to have present.' " The Court held that, "[b]y making this request, [the defendant] asserted his right to counsel" (id.). We see no relevant distinction in the facts presented in this case, and we are therefore constrained to conclude that the statements made by defendant to the detective at the police station must be suppressed because defendant asserted his right to counsel. ...

 

We conclude that the court's error is not harmless inasmuch as there is a "reasonable possibility that the error might have contributed to defendant's conviction" ... . We therefore grant that part of the omnibus motion seeking to suppress the statements made by defendant at the police station ... , and we grant a new trial ... . People v Lewis, 2017 NY Slip Op 06776, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

CRIMINAL LAW (DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND HE HAD A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY AT THE TIME HIS STATEMENTS WERE MADE EVEN IF HE COULD NOT AFFORD ONE, BOTH STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FIRST DEPT))/EVIDENCE (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND HE HAD A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY AT THE TIME HIS STATEMENTS WERE MADE EVEN IF HE COULD NOT AFFORD ONE, BOTH STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FIRST DEPT))/ATTORNEYS (CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND HE HAD A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY AT THE TIME HIS STATEMENTS WERE MADE EVEN IF HE COULD NOT AFFORD ONE, BOTH STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FIRST DEPT))/SUPPRESSION (STATEMENTS, CRIMINAL LAW, DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND HE HAD A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY AT THE TIME HIS STATEMENTS WERE MADE EVEN IF HE COULD NOT AFFORD ONE, BOTH STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FIRST DEPT))/MIRANDA WARNINGS DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND HE HAD A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY AT THE TIME HIS STATEMENTS WERE MADE EVEN IF HE COULD NOT AFFORD ONE, BOTH STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FIRST DEPT))

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE, ATTORNEYS.

DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND HE HAD A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY AT THE TIME HIS STATEMENTS WERE MADE EVEN IF HE COULD NOT AFFORD ONE, BOTH STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, vacating defendant's guilty plea, determined that the People did not demonstrate defendant understood he had a right to an attorney at the time he made statement, even if he could not afford one. Both of his statements should have been suppressed:

... [T]he People failed to establish that defendant made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights before giving oral and written statements to a detective at the precinct. In a videotaped statement to the prosecutor, made several hours after the statements to the detective, defendant said, "I cannot pay for a lawyer, why do I write yes or no." The prosecutor then said, "[D]o you understand if you can't, the Court will give you one?," to which defendant responded, "[S]o I put no." After the prosecutor reread the warnings defendant stated, "[Y]es, I need to have a lawyer . . . I cannot pay a lawyer." The prosecutor next asked, "[B]ut do you understand that one will be provided if you cannot pay," and defendant again stated "yes, but I can't pay for a lawyer." Finally, the prosecutor told defendant, "[O]kay, so you can write yes' if you understand, and no' if you don't understand," and defendant said, "[Y]es, I do understand." Based on this exchange, the court correctly suppressed defendant's videotaped statement. Given defendant's failure to comprehend that he had the right to an attorney at the time of his statements if he could not afford one, it is evident that defendant's previous statement to the detective should also be suppressed ... .

 

We find that the error was not harmless, because there is a reasonable possibility that it contributed to defendant's guilty plea ... . People v Flores, 2017 NY Slip Op 06629, First Dept 9-26-17

CRIMINAL LAW (SORA COURT'S FAILURE TO ADDRESS DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR A DOWNWARD DEPARTURE REQUIRED REMITTAL (THIRD DEPT))/SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (SORA)  (SORA COURT'S FAILURE TO ADDRESS DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR A DOWNWARD DEPARTURE REQUIRED REMITTAL (THIRD DEPT))

 

CRIMINAL LAW, SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (SORA).

SORA COURT'S FAILURE TO ADDRESS DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR A DOWNWARD DEPARTURE REQUIRED REMITTAL (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department, reversing County Court, determined the SORA court's failure to address defendant's motion for a downward departure to a level one sex offender in the written order and during the hearing required remittal:

At the hearing, defendant requested a downward departure to a classification of a risk level one sex offender based upon, among other things, psychological evaluations done on his behalf. In classifying defendant as a risk level two sex offender, County Court did not address defendant's request for a downward departure in the written order, as required by Correction Law § 168-n (3) [4], or at the hearing, "precluding meaningful appellate review of the propriety of the court's risk level assessment" ... . Accordingly, we remit the matter to County Court for a disposition that complies with the statutory requirements ... . People v Darrah, 2017 NY Slip Op 06684, Third Dept 9-28-17

 

CRIMINAL LAW (ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER UNDER THE LAW OF WASHINGTON STATE, NEW YORK LAW PROPERLY REQUIRED REGISTRATION, FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE NOT VIOLATED (THIRD DEPT))/SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (SORA)  (ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER UNDER THE LAW OF WASHINGTON STATE, NEW YORK LAW PROPERLY REQUIRED REGISTRATION, FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE NOT VIOLATED (THIRD DEPT)/CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE, ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER UNDER THE LAW OF WASHINGTON STATE, NEW YORK LAW PROPERLY REQUIRED REGISTRATION, FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE NOT VIOLATED (THIRD DEPT))/FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE (SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT, ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER UNDER THE LAW OF WASHINGTON STATE, NEW YORK LAW PROPERLY REQUIRED REGISTRATION, FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE NOT VIOLATED (THIRD DEPT))

 

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

ALTHOUGH DEFENDANT WAS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER UNDER THE LAW OF WASHINGTON STATE, NEW YORK LAW PROPERLY REQUIRED REGISTRATION, FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE NOT VIOLATED (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department determined the fact that defendant was not required to register as a sex offender under the law of Washington state did not affect the requirement that he register in New York. The Full Faith and Credit Clause was not implicated:

Defendant argues that requiring him to register in New York when a Washington court order relieved him of the obligation to register in that state violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause (see US Const, art IV, § 1). However, this clause is designed "to avoid conflicts between [s]tates in adjudicating the same matters" ... and "is not implicated where the issue decided by a court in [another] state is different from the issue being decided by a New York court" ... . Here, Washington and New York have each separately adjudicated the risks posed by defendant to their respective citizens, and each state has imposed sex offender registration requirements pursuant to the governing sex offender registration laws in each state and, accordingly, neither state has adjudicated the "same matter" in violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause .., .

 

... [F]ull faith and credit principles do not require New York to assign an offender the same risk level as that imposed by the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred ... . ...

 

... [Because] each state is assessing the risks posed to its own citizens and vulnerable populations and applying its own registration laws, the courts are not adjudicating the "same matters" in violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause ... . People v Hlatky, 2017 NY Slip Op 06693, Third Dept 9-28-17

DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS (INMATES) (RELIABILITY OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT NOT INDEPENDENTLY ASSESSED BY HEARING OFFICER, DETERMINATION ANNULLED AND EXPUNGED (THIRD DEPT))/EVIDENCE (DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS, INMATES, RELIABILITY OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT NOT INDEPENDENTLY ASSESSED BY HEARING OFFICER, DETERMINATION ANNULLED AND EXPUNGED (THIRD DEPT))

 

DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS (INMATES), EVIDENCE.

RELIABILITY OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT NOT INDEPENDENTLY ASSESSED BY HEARING OFFICER, DETERMINATION ANNULLED AND EXPUNGED (THIRD DEPT).

The Third Department determined the disciplinary determination must be annulled and expunged because the hearing officer did not independently assess the credibility of an informant:

"A disciplinary determination may be based upon hearsay confidential information provided that it is sufficiently detailed and probative for the Hearing Officer to make an independent assessment of the informant's reliability"... . Here, the Hearing Officer, without informing petitioner, interviewed the correction officer who investigated the incident and authored the misbehavior report about the information obtained from the confidential informant. Although the correction officer attested to the informant's past reliability, the substance of the information gleaned from the informant was too vague and insufficiently detailed to allow the Hearing Officer to independently assess the reliability or credibility of the informant ... . Because the confidential information was instrumental in finding petitioner guilty of the charges, the determination is not supported by substantial evidence and must be annulled ... . Matter of Fields v Annucci, 2017 NY Slip Op 06697, Third Dept 9-28-17

EMPLOYMENT LAW (PLAINTIFF'S AGE DISCRIMINATION AND BREACH OF CONTRACT CAUSES OF ACTION DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/HUMAN RIGHTS LAW (PLAINTIFF'S AGE DISCRIMINATION AND BREACH OF CONTRACT CAUSES OF ACTION DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/AGE DISCRIMINATION (PLAINTIFF'S AGE DISCRIMINATION AND BREACH OF CONTRACT CAUSES OF ACTION DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))

 

EMPLOYMENT LAW, HUMAN RIGHTS LAW.

PLAINTIFF'S AGE DISCRIMINATION AND BREACH OF CONTRACT CAUSES OF ACTION DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, in an extensive opinion by Justice Friedman, determined plaintiff's age discrimination and breach of contract causes of action should be dismissed. Plaintiff's position at a medical school was eliminated as part of a phasing out of her department and her age was not demonstrated to be a factor in the decision-making process. In addition, the breach of contract cause of action was based on a provision in the faculty handbook which did not apply to plaintiff:

In this action for age discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) ... and for breach of contract, plaintiff, a former member of the radiology department of defendant medical school and hospital, challenges defendant's decision not to renew her employment at the expiration of the term of her last appointment. Although Supreme Court assumed (as do we) that plaintiff carried her "de minimis" burden of establishing a prima facie case of age discrimination ... , the court correctly determined that plaintiff, in response to defendant's evidence of legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the challenged employment action, failed to present any evidence raising a triable issue as to whether bias against employees of her age played a role in that decision ... .

 

... [D]efendant established that the non-specialized section of the radiology department in which plaintiff worked, which produced no research, was phased out as part of a restructuring of the department, at a time of financial constraint, to achieve greater focus on the specialized, research-producing sections of the department. Defendant further established that, as part of this restructuring, it retained three physicians from plaintiff's section, each of whom was of approximately the same age as plaintiff (60), and reassigned them to specialized departments. Plaintiff, however, was reasonably deemed to lack the specialized expertise and the proclivity for research that defendant deemed necessary to maintain its status as a top-tier academic radiology department. Not only did plaintiff fail to present any evidence casting doubt on this explanation, she failed to present any evidence, either direct or circumstantial, suggesting that bias against employees of her age was even a partial motive for the ending of her employment. Hamburg v New York Univ. Sch. of Medicine, 2017 NY Slip Op 06635, First Dept 9-26-17

FAMILY LAW (ADOPTION OF CHILD BORN TO A SURROGATE WHILE THE PARTNERS WERE LEGALLY MARRIED UNDER BRITISH LAW WAS PROPERLY VACATED, DURING THE ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS THE COURT WAS MISINFORMED ABOUT ONE OF THE PARTNER'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT))/ADOPTION (ADOPTION OF CHILD BORN TO A SURROGATE WHILE THE PARTNERS WERE LEGALLY MARRIED UNDER BRITISH LAW WAS PROPERLY VACATED, DURING THE ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS THE COURT WAS MISINFORMED ABOUT ONE OF THE PARTNER'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT))/MARRIAGE  (ADOPTION OF CHILD BORN TO A SURROGATE WHILE THE PARTNERS WERE LEGALLY MARRIED UNDER BRITISH LAW WAS PROPERLY VACATED, DURING THE ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS THE COURT WAS MISINFORMED ABOUT ONE OF THE PARTNER'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT))

 

FAMILY LAW.

ADOPTION OF CHILD BORN TO A SURROGATE WHILE THE PARTNERS WERE LEGALLY MARRIED UNDER BRITISH LAW WAS PROPERLY VACATED, DURING THE ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS THE COURT WAS MISINFORMED ABOUT ONE OF THE PARTNER'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department determined Family Court properly vacated an adoption because one of the parties (Ming) who had parental rights was not notified of the adoption proceedings and the court was not fully or accurately informed of Ming's involvement with the child. Ming was legally married to Marco under British law. Both Ming and Marco had contributed sperm and a surrogate carried the baby. The child was conceived with Marco's sperm and Marco was ultimately awarded custody. After Ming moved back to England, Carlos, Marco's new partner, adopted the child. It was that adoption which was properly vacated:

It is undisputed that Ming and Marco's marriage in the UK was effective as of August 2008. New York courts as a matter of comity will recognize such out-of-state marriages ... . The child was born in 2014, as the result of jointly executed surrogacy agreements, at a time when the couple was considered legally married, thus giving rise to the presumption that the child is the legitimate child of both Marco and Ming .,, . After the child was born, Marco, Ming and the child lived together as a family, and the couple took affirmative steps in the UK to establish Ming's parental rights in accordance with UK law. Under these circumstances, the Missouri judgment in 2014 awarding Marco sole and exclusive custody of the child, as opposed to the egg donor and surrogate, was insufficient to rebut the presumption of legitimacy.

... Marco and Ming were deemed legally married when they embarked on the surrogacy process to have a child together .., . Accordingly, the child was born in wedlock, and Ming was entitled to notice of the adoption proceeding ... . ...

 

... The adoption petition required petitioner to give a sworn statement that the child to be adopted was not the subject of any proceeding affecting his or her custody or status. Even though petitioner was aware of the Florida divorce action before finalization of the adoption, he failed to disclose the action to the court, instead averring in a supplemental affidavit that there had been no change in circumstances "whatsoever" since the filing of the adoption petition. Matter of Maria-Irene D., 2017 NY Slip Op 06716, First Dept 9-28-17

 

FAMILY LAW (EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT FINDING THAT RESPONDENT WAS LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILD, NEGLECT DETERMINATION CANNOT STAND (FOURTH DEPT))/NEGLECT (EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT FINDING THAT RESPONDENT WAS LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILD, NEGLECT DETERMINATION CANNOT STAND (FOURTH DEPT))

 

FAMILY LAW.

EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT FINDING THAT RESPONDENT WAS LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILD, NEGLECT DETERMINATION CANNOT STAND (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Family Court, determined the evidence was insufficient to support the finding that respondent was legally responsible for the child, therefore the neglect finding could not stand:

... [T]he evidence does not support Family Court's determination that he is a person legally responsible for the child ... , and the court therefore erred in determining that he neglected the child ... . Even giving deference to the court's credibility determinations ... , we conclude that petitioner's witnesses established that respondent and the mother of the child had been living together for some unspecified period of time, but there was nothing further to show that respondent acted "as the functional equivalent of a parent in a familial or household setting" ... . There was no testimony that respondent, the mother, and the child were "living together as a family" ... , or that respondent provided childcare or financial support, or performed any household duties ... . Matter of Kameron V. (Eva V.), 2017 NY Slip Op 06782, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

 

FAMILY LAW (DIVORCE, STIPULATION WHICH WAS NOT MERGED INTO THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS UNENFORCEABLE (FOURTH DEPT))/STIPULATIONS (DIVORCE, STIPULATION WHICH WAS NOT MERGED INTO THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS UNENFORCEABLE (FOURTH DEPT))/DIVORCE (STIPULATION WHICH WAS NOT MERGED INTO THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS UNENFORCEABLE (FOURTH DEPT))

 

FAMILY LAW.

STIPULATION WHICH WAS NOT MERGED INTO THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS UNENFORCEABLE (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department determined a stipulation which was not merged into the judgment of divorce should not have been dismissed as unenforceable:

It is well settled that a party to a stipulation that is incorporated but not merged into a judgment of divorce "cannot challenge the [enforceability of the] stipulation by way of motion but, rather, must do so by commencement of a plenary action" ... . Conversely, a party seeking to enforce the terms of such a stipulation may do so either by a motion to enforce the judgment ... . In this case, the issue whether the stipulation was enforceable was not properly before the court because defendant did not commence a plenary action challenging its enforceability. Rather, plaintiff moved to enforce the judgment incorporating the stipulation, and defendant effectively conceded that the stipulation was enforceable when she asserted that the only questions before the court were the valuation of her master's degree and the extent of plaintiff's marital interest therein. Thus, we conclude that the court erred in denying plaintiff's motion on the ground that the stipulation was unenforceable ... . Anderson v Anderson, 2017 NY Slip Op 06786, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

 

INSURANCE LAW (COMMERCIAL LIABILITY CARRIER NOT OBLIGATED TO DEFEND ACTION FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND SEEKING FORECLOSURE OF MECHANIC'S LIENS, POLICY ONLY COVERS PERSONAL INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE AND ADVERTISING INJURY (SECOND DEPT))/COMMERCIAL LIABILITY INSURANCE (COMMERCIAL LIABILITY CARRIER NOT OBLIGATED TO DEFEND ACTION FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND SEEKING FORECLOSURE OF MECHANIC'S LIENS, POLICY ONLY COVERS PERSONAL INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE AND ADVERTISING INJURY (SECOND DEPT))

 

INSURANCE LAW.

COMMERCIAL LIABILITY CARRIER NOT OBLIGATED TO DEFEND ACTION FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND FORECLOSURE OF MECHANIC'S LIENS, POLICY ONLY COVERS PERSONAL INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE AND ADVERTISING INJURY (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined the insurer was not obligated to defend an action alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment and foreclosure of mechanic's liens. The commercial liability policy covered only personal injury, property damage and advertising injury:

"The general rule is that a commercial general liability insurance policy does not afford coverage for breach of contract, but rather for bodily injury and property damage"... . To hold otherwise would render an insurance carrier a surety for the performance of its insured's work ... . The determination of an insurer's duty to defend must be drawn from allegations of the underlying complaint ... . Here, the complaint in the Owens action sounds exclusively in breach of contract and unjust enrichment, and seeks to foreclose on mechanic's liens. There is no claim for bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury as is required to trigger coverage under the policies herein. J.W. Mays, Inc. v Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 2017 NY Slip Op 06639, Second Dept 9-27-17

 

INSURANCE LAW (INSURER'S ATTORNEY MUST BE DEPOSED TO DETERMINE HIS ROLE IN THE INVESTIGATION OF A FIRE ON PLAINTIFFS' PROPERTY AND THE DENIAL OF COVERAGE, THE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE DEPOSITION WILL INFORM WHETHER THE ATTORNEY'S FILES ARE DISCOVERABLE BY THE PLAINTIFFS (FIRST DEPT))/ATTORNEYS  (INSURER'S ATTORNEY MUST BE DEPOSED TO DETERMINE HIS ROLE IN THE INVESTIGATION OF A FIRE ON PLAINTIFFS' PROPERTY AND THE DENIAL OF COVERAGE, THE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE DEPOSITION WILL INFORM WHETHER THE ATTORNEY'S FILES ARE DISCOVERABLE BY THE PLAINTIFFS (FIRST DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (DISCOVERY, ATTORNEYS, INSURER'S ATTORNEY MUST BE DEPOSED TO DETERMINE HIS ROLE IN THE INVESTIGATION OF A FIRE ON PLAINTIFFS' PROPERTY AND THE DENIAL OF COVERAGE, THE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE DEPOSITION WILL INFORM WHETHER THE ATTORNEY'S FILES ARE DISCOVERABLE BY THE PLAINTIFFS (FIRST DEPT))/DISCOVERY (INSURANCE LAW, ATTORNEYS, (INSURER'S ATTORNEY MUST BE DEPOSED TO DETERMINE HIS ROLE IN THE INVESTIGATION OF A FIRE ON PLAINTIFFS' PROPERTY AND THE DENIAL OF COVERAGE, THE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE DEPOSITION WILL INFORM WHETHER THE ATTORNEY'S FILES ARE DISCOVERABLE BY THE PLAINTIFFS (FIRST DEPT))

INSURANCE LAW, CIVIL PROCEDURE, ATTORNEYS.

INSURER'S ATTORNEY MUST BE DEPOSED TO DETERMINE HIS ROLE IN THE INVESTIGATION OF A FIRE ON PLAINTIFFS' PROPERTY AND THE DENIAL OF COVERAGE, THE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE DEPOSITION WILL DETERMINE WHETHER THE ATTORNEY'S FILES ARE DISCOVERABLE BY THE PLAINTIFFS (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined an attorney who worked for defendant insurer must be deposed to ascertain his role in an investigation of a fire at plaintiffs' property and the denial of coverage. Based on the deposition, Supreme Court will address what portions of the insurer's files, including the attorney's, are discoverable by plaintiffs:

"[T]he CPLR establishes three categories of protected materials, also supported by policy considerations: privileged matter, absolutely immune from discovery (CPLR 3101[b]); attorney's work product, also absolutely immune (CPLR 3101[c]); and trial preparation materials, which are subject to disclosure only on a showing of substantial need and undue hardship in obtaining the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means CPLR 3101 [d][2]" ... . "[I]n order for attorney-client communications to be privileged, the document must be primarily or predominantly a communication of a legal character" ... . ...

 

"Reports of insurance investigators or adjusters, prepared during the processing of a claim, are discoverable as made in the regular course of the insurance company's business" ... . "Furthermore, attorney work product applies only to documents prepared by counsel acting as such, and to materials uniquely the product of a lawyer's learning and professional skills, such as those reflecting an attorney's legal research, analysis, conclusions, legal theory or strategy" ... . "Documents prepared in the ordinary course of an insurance company's investigation to determine whether to accept or reject coverage and to evaluate the extent of a claimant's loss are not privileged and are, therefore, discoverable. In addition, such documents do not become privileged merely because an investigation was conducted by an attorney" ... . Venture v Preferred Mut. Ins. Co., 2017 NY Slip Op 06594, First Dept 9-26-17

LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW (PLAINTIFF ALLEGED HE WAS NOT PROVIDED WITH A LADDER AND WAS INSTRUCTED TO CLIMB UP THE SIDE OF A BRIDGE FROM WHICH HE FELL, SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240(1) CAUSE OF ACTION PROPERLY GRANTED, COMPARATIVE FAULT IS NOT A DEFENSE (FIRST DEPT))

 

LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW.

PLAINTIFF ALLEGED HE WAS NOT PROVIDED WITH A LADDER AND WAS INSTRUCTED TO CLIMB UP THE SIDE OF A BRIDGE FROM WHICH HE FELL, SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE LABOR LAW 240(1) CAUSE OF ACTION PROPERLY GRANTED, COMPARATIVE FAULT IS NOT A DEFENSE (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department determined plaintiff was properly granted summary judgment on his Labor Law 240 (1) cause of action. Plaintiff alleged he was not provided with a ladder and was instructed to climb up the side of a bridge, from which he fell. The defendants' claim that plaintiff was at fault because of his size is of no consequence because comparative fault is not a defense:

Plaintiff made a prima facie showing that Labor Law § 240(1) was violated, and that the violation was a proximate cause of his injury ... . He testified that onsite supervisors gave him a work assignment requiring him to work from the top of a sidewalk bridge, thereby exposing him to elevation-related risks covered under Labor Law § 240(1). He further stated that he was not provided with a ladder or any other safety device; was instructed to access the top of the bridge by climbing up its side; and that, while attempting to do so, he lost his grip, slipped, and fell to the ground. * * *

Defendants' recalcitrant worker defense fails, since there is no indication that they instructed plaintiff to use a ladder or informed him that a ladder or other safety device was located at the sidewalk bridge ... .

Defendants' contention that plaintiff fell from the sidewalk bridge as a result of his "carelessness" and "bad decisions," and because of his size, is unavailing. Any comparative negligence by plaintiff is not a defense to his Labor Law § 240(1) claim ... . Cardona v New York City Hous. Auth., 2017 NY Slip Op 06620, First Dept 9-26-17

 

NEGLIGENCE (DEFENDANT DEMONSTRATED IT TOOK ADEQUATE MEASURES TO KEEP THE FLOOR DRY, DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/SLIP AND FALL (DEFENDANT DEMONSTRATED IT TOOK ADEQUATE MEASURES TO KEEP THE FLOOR DRY, DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/TRACKED IN WATER (SLIP AND FALL, DEFENDANT DEMONSTRATED IT TOOK ADEQUATE MEASURES TO KEEP THE FLOOR DRY, DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE.

DEFENDANT DEMONSTRATED IT TOOK ADEQUATE MEASURES TO KEEP THE FLOOR DRY, DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant demonstrated it took adequate measures to keep the floor free of water and the area where plaintiff fell was inspected ten minutes before the slip and fall. Defendant Roza 14W's motion for summary judgment should have been granted:

Plaintiff Frank Kelly was allegedly injured when he slipped and fell on water on the marble floor in the lobby of Roza 14W's building. It was snowing lightly at the time of the accident and the floor had mats in various locations, but not in the area where plaintiff slipped.

 

Roza 14W made a prima facie showing that a reasonable cleaning routine was followed on the day of the accident ... . Roza 14W submitted evidence that, in addition to the mats, wet floor warning signs were placed in the lobby, two porters were assigned to walk around the lobby to dry mop wet areas, and the area where plaintiff fell was found to be clean and dry 10 minutes before the fall.

 

Plaintiffs failed to submit evidence sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact. Roza 14W was not obligated to either continuously mop up moisture tracked onto its floor... or to cover the entire floor with mats ... . In addition, the affidavit of plaintiffs' expert failed to cite any violation of an accepted industry practice, standard, code, or regulation .... . Kelly v Roza 14W LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 06630, First Dept 9-26-17

NEGLIGENCE (WATER ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR NEAR THE SHOWER WAS NECESSARILY INCIDENTAL TO THE USE OF THE SHOWER AND WAS NOT AN ACTIONABLE CONDITION IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE (FOURTH DEPT))/SLIP AND FALL (WATER ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR NEAR THE SHOWER WAS NECESSARILY INCIDENTAL TO THE USE OF THE SHOWER AND WAS NOT AN ACTIONABLE CONDITION IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE (FOURTH DEPT))/BATHROOMS (SLIP AND FALL, WATER ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR NEAR THE SHOWER WAS NECESSARILY INCIDENTAL TO THE USE OF THE SHOWER AND WAS NOT AN ACTIONABLE CONDITION IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE (FOURTH DEPT))/NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL (SLIP AND FALL, WATER ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR NEAR THE SHOWER WAS NECESSARILY INCIDENTAL TO THE USE OF THE SHOWER AND WAS NOT AN ACTIONABLE CONDITION IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE (FOURTH DEPT)

NEGLIGENCE.

WATER ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR NEAR THE SHOWER WAS NECESSARILY INCIDENTAL TO THE USE OF THE SHOWER AND WAS NOT AN ACTIONABLE CONDITION IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department determined the complaint in this slip and fall case was properly dismissed. Plaintiff's daughter slipped and fell on water on the bathroom floor on defendants' property. The court held that water on the floor near the shower was not actionable:

Defendants' submissions established that the daughter slipped on the bathroom floor when she stepped out of the shower to retrieve a brush while the water was running. The daughter stated during her deposition that, although the shower curtain had been closed and no water was falling outside the bathtub prior to the accident, as a result of her opening the curtain while the water was running, there was some water on the floor around the bathtub when she stepped out of the bathtub. Contrary to plaintiff's contention, " a wet floor—especially in a bathroom where one can expect some water to make its way out of the shower to the floor—is not enough, standing alone, to establish negligence' " ...  Here, defendants established that the amount of water present on the floor "was a condition that was necessarily incidental' to the use of the shower[] . . . and thus that it did not by itself constitute a dangerous condition"... . Defendants further established that the accident was not attributable to a defect in the floor or the bath towel that they provided to the daughter, which she placed on the floor beside the bathtub... . Furthermore, even assuming, arguendo, that a dangerous condition existed, we conclude that defendants met their burden by establishing that they neither created the dangerous condition nor had actual or constructive notice thereof ... . Keller v Keller, 2017 NY Slip Op 06773, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

NEGLIGENCE (LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW (NEGLIGENCE, NOTICE OF CLAIM, LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/SUPERVISION, NEGLIGENT (EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW, (LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

 

NEGLIGENCE, EDUCATION-SCHOOL LAW.

LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the petition seeking leave to file a late notice of claim should have been denied. Although the school was aware of the student's injury, it was not timely made aware of the negligent supervision claim. The fact that the school did not demonstrate prejudice from the delay was not determinative:

... [T]he petitioner failed to establish that the School District acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days after the child's accident or a reasonable time thereafter. Although the school nurse prepared a "Notification of Injury" form, which the petitioner signed nearly two months after the accident, this form merely indicated that the child received a laceration and contusion on the outer corner of his left eye when he fell on the steps of the large slide. Thus, the form did not provide the School District with timely, actual knowledge of the essential facts underlying the claims that it was negligent in supervising its students, and in the hiring and training of school personnel ... . Therefore, the School District had no reason to conduct a prompt investigation into the purported negligence ... .

 

... [P]etitioner failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for her failure to serve a timely notice of claim. The child's infancy alone, without any showing of a nexus between the infancy and the delay, was insufficient to constitute a reasonable excuse ... . Moreover, to the extent that the petitioner attributed her delay to the need to determine that the proper entity to sue was the School District, a readily ascertainable fact, such a claim does not constitute a reasonable excuse... .

 

While the petitioner did satisfy her initial burden of showing a lack of substantial prejudice to the School District as a result of her late notice, and the School District failed to make a "particularized evidentiary showing" of substantial prejudice in response ... , the presence or absence of any one factor is not necessarily determinative in deciding whether permission to serve a late notice of claim should be granted... . A balancing of the relevant factors ... demonstrates that the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in granting the petition ... . McClancy v Plainedge Union Free Sch. Dist., 2017 NY Slip Op 06651, Second Dept 9-27-17

NEGLIGENCE (DEFENDANT BICYCLIST WAS NOT ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT WHEN HE STRUCK AND KILLED PLAINTIFF, EMPLOYER NOT VICARIOUSLY OR DIRECTLY LIABLE (FIRST DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (VICARIOUS LIABILITY, DEFENDANT BICYCLIST WAS NOT ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT WHEN HE STRUCK AND KILLED PLAINTIFF, EMPLOYER NOT VICARIOUSLY OR DIRECTLY LIABLE (FIRST DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, EMPLOYMENT LAW.

DEFENDANT BICYCLIST WAS NOT ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT WHEN HE STRUCK AND KILLED PLAINTIFF, EMPLOYER NOT VICARIOUSLY OR DIRECTLY LIABLE (FIRST DEPT).

The First Department determined defendant-bicyclist's (Cook's) employer (AGI) was not vicariously liable for the bicyclist's actions. Cook was riding his own bicycle on his own time when he struck and killed plaintiff. Cook worked as a bicycling coach for AGI. The court also found that the negligent hiring and retention cause of action was properly dismissed:

The motion court correctly determined that AGI could not be held vicariously liable for Cook's alleged negligence, as Cook was acting outside the scope of his employment. At the time of the accident, Cook was engaged in a weekend bicycle ride, in a public park, using a bicycle that he purchased and equipped, was alone and was not coaching anyone, and was not acting in furtherance of any duties owed to AGI ... .

 

Cook's unsupported belief, as set forth in an affirmative defense, that his bicycle riding had a work component to it, and his unsworn Response to the Notice to Admit (see CPLR 3123[a]), which improperly sought admissions as to employment status, a contested issue central to the action ... , do not create triable issues of fact as to whether Cook was acting in the scope of employment ... . ...[T]here is no indication that AGI was exercising any control over Cook at the time of the accident ... .

The motion court correctly dismissed plaintiff's direct negligence claim against AGI. There is no evidence that AGI knew or should have known of Cook's alleged propensity to dangerously ride his bicycle in Central Park, an element necessary to support the claim for negligent hiring and retention ... , and plaintiff's conclusory allegations of deficient training are insufficient to defeat summary judgment ... . Fein v Cook, 2017 NY Slip Op 06603, First Dept 9-26-17

NEGLIGENCE (MUNICIPAL LAW, PERMISSION TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (NOTICE OF CLAIM,  PERMISSION TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/NOTICE OF CLAIM (MUNICIPAL LAW, PERMISSION TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/SLIP AND FALL (MUNICIPAL LAW, PERMISSION TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/SIDEWALKS (SLIP AND FALL, MUNICIPAL LAW, PERMISSION TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, MUNICIPAL LAW.

LEAVE TO FILE A LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM IN THIS SLIP AND FALL CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined plaintiff (Kelly) should not have been allowed to file a late notice of claim in this sidewalk slip and fall case. No reasonable explanation was offered and defendant housing authority did not have timely notice of the substance of the claim:

... Kelly failed to provide a reasonable excuse for his failure to serve a timely notice of claim upon NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority]. Kelly's excuse, that he first discovered the identity of the owner of the subject walkway at the General Municipal Law § 50-h hearing, arose from a lack of due diligence in investigating the matter, which is an unacceptable excuse ... . Even if Kelly made an excusable error in identifying the public corporation upon which he was required to serve a notice of claim, he failed to proffer any explanation for the additional seven-month delay between the time that he discovered the error and the filing of his application for leave to serve a late notice of claim ... .

 

Furthermore, NYCHA did not acquire timely, actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting Kelly's claim. Although the City was served with a notice of claim within 90 days after the accident and conducted a General Municipal Law § 50-h hearing about 5½ months after the accident, notice to the City cannot be imputed to NYCHA ... . Moreover, the notice of claim, served together with the application upon NYCHA almost 10 months after the 90-day statutory period had elapsed, was served too late to provide NYCHA with actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within a reasonable time after the expiration of the 90-day statutory period ... .

 

Finally, Kelly presented no "evidence or plausible argument" that his delay in serving a notice of claim upon NYCHA did not substantially prejudice NYCHA in defending on the merits ... . Kelly v City of New York, 2017 NY Slip Op 06640, Second Dept 9-27-17

NEGLIGENCE (POLICE OFFICER WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY AND WAS NOT ACTING IN RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS WHEN THE POLICE CAR STRUCK PLAINTIFF WHO WAS STANDING IN THE ROAD, COMPLAINT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/MUNICIPAL LAW (POLICE OFFICERS, POLICE OFFICER WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY AND WAS NOT ACTING IN RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS WHEN THE POLICE CAR STRUCK PLAINTIFF WHO WAS STANDING IN THE ROAD, COMPLAINT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (POLICE OFFICERS, RECKLESS DISREGARD, POLICE OFFICER WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY AND WAS NOT ACTING IN RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS WHEN THE POLICE CAR STRUCK PLAINTIFF WHO WAS STANDING IN THE ROAD, COMPLAINT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/RECKLESS DISREGARD (VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW, POLICE OFFICER WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY AND WAS NOT ACTING IN RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS WHEN THE POLICE CAR STRUCK PLAINTIFF WHO WAS STANDING IN THE ROAD, COMPLAINT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))/TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS (PEDESTRIANS, (POLICE OFFICER WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY AND WAS NOT ACTING IN RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS WHEN THE POLICE CAR STRUCK PLAINTIFF WHO WAS STANDING IN THE ROAD, COMPLAINT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT))

NEGLIGENCE, MUNICIPAL LAW, VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW.

POLICE OFFICER WAS RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY AND WAS NOT ACTING IN RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS WHEN THE POLICE CAR STRUCK PLAINTIFF WHO WAS STANDING IN THE ROAD, COMPLAINT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT). 

The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the action against a police officer whose police car struck plaintiff should have been dismissed. Plaintiff was standing in the road at the double yellow lines when the officer, responding to an emergency call, moved over the double yellow line:

Defendants demonstrated that defendant police officer was engaged in an "emergency operation" within the meaning of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104, by submitting evidence that the officer was responding to a radio call about a "man with a gun" when her police vehicle struck plaintiff ... . Defendants' evidence also showed that the officer was engaged in conduct privileged under the statute at the time of the accident, since her vehicle straddled and then crossed the double yellow lines, in disregard of regulations "governing directions of movement" (VTL § 1104[b][4]). Accordingly, defendants demonstrated that the officer's conduct is to be assessed under the statute's "reckless disregard" standard... .

 

Defendants further demonstrated that the officer did not operate the police vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of others ... . The officer testified that traffic warranted moving her vehicle left and operating it on the double yellow lines to avoid the stopped vehicles to her right and ahead of her. The officer had no duty to engage her sirens or lights, as she was operating a police vehicle, and her failure to do so was not evidence of recklessness .... Moreover, the officer testified that she attempted to avoid plaintiff, who was standing on the double yellow lines, by swerving behind her, an assertion that plaintiff supported with her own testimony ... .

In opposition, plaintiff failed to present evidence showing that there was no emergency, and failed to raise an issue of fact as to whether the officer acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others. Green v Zarella, 2017 NY Slip Op 06599, First Dept 9-26-17

 

REAL ESTATE (PLAINTIFF DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HE WAS READY WILLING AND ABLE TO PURCHASE THE PROPERTY, SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE ACTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (REAL ESTATE, SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE, PLAINTIFF DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HE WAS READY WILLING AND ABLE TO PURCHASE THE PROPERTY, SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE ACTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))/SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE (REAL ESTATE, PLAINTIFF DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HE WAS READY WILLING AND ABLE TO PURCHASE THE PROPERTY, SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE ACTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT))

 

REAL ESTATE, CONTRACT LAW.

PLAINTIFF DID NOT DEMONSTRATE HE WAS READY WILLING AND ABLE TO PURCHASE THE PROPERTY, SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN THIS SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE ACTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff had not met the proof requirements for specific performance of a real estate contract:

"To prevail on a cause of action for specific performance of a contract for the sale of real property, a plaintiff purchaser must establish that it substantially performed its contractual obligations and was ready, willing, and able to perform its remaining obligations, that the vendor was able to convey the property, and that there was no adequate remedy at law" ... . In moving for summary judgment on a complaint seeking specific performance of a contract, the plaintiff purchaser must submit evidence demonstrating financial ability to purchase the property in order to demonstrate that it was ready, willing, and able to purchase such property... . In the absence of such evidence, a plaintiff purchaser's motion for summary judgment in its favor on a cause of action for specific performance should be denied due to the plaintiff purchaser's failure to meet its initial burden ... . "When a purchaser submits no documentation or other proof to substantiate that it had the funds necessary to purchase the property, it cannot prove, as a matter of law, that it was ready, willing, and able to close" ... .

 

Here, the plaintiff failed to establish, prima facie, that he was ready, willing, and able to purchase the subject property, since he did not submit any evidence demonstrating his financial ability to close the transaction ... . Grunbaum v Nicole Brittany, Ltd., 2017 NY Slip Op 06638, Second Dept 9-27-17

 

REAL ESTATE (DOCTRINE OF TAX ESTOPPEL PREVENTED DEFENDANTS FROM ASSERTING FACTS ABOUT THE SALE OF PROPERTY CONTRARY TO THE INFORMATION IN THE REAL PROPERTY TRANSFER REPORT, PLAINTIFF'S ACTION TO ENFORCE A RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT))/CONTRACT LAW (REAL ESTATE, RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL, DOCTRINE OF TAX ESTOPPEL PREVENTED DEFENDANTS FROM ASSERTING FACTS ABOUT THE SALE OF PROPERTY CONTRARY TO THE INFORMATION IN THE REAL PROPERTY TRANSFER REPORT, PLAINTIFF'S ACTION TO ENFORCE A RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT))/TAX LAW  (DOCTRINE OF TAX ESTOPPEL PREVENTED DEFENDANTS FROM ASSERTING FACTS ABOUT THE SALE OF PROPERTY CONTRARY TO THE INFORMATION IN THE REAL PROPERTY TRANSFER REPORT, PLAINTIFF'S ACTION TO ENFORCE A RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT))/TAX ESTOPPEL (DOCTRINE OF TAX ESTOPPEL PREVENTED DEFENDANTS FROM ASSERTING FACTS ABOUT THE SALE OF PROPERTY CONTRARY TO THE INFORMATION IN THE REAL PROPERTY TRANSFER REPORT, PLAINTIFF'S ACTION TO ENFORCE A RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT))

 

REAL ESTATE, CONTRACT LAW, TAX LAW.

DOCTRINE OF TAX ESTOPPEL PREVENTED DEFENDANTS FROM ASSERTING FACTS ABOUT THE SALE OF PROPERTY CONTRARY TO THE INFORMATION IN THE REAL PROPERTY TRANSFER REPORT, PLAINTIFF'S ACTION TO ENFORCE A RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the doctrine of tax estoppel prevented defendants from asserting facts contrary to the information provided in the Real Property Transfer Report (RPT report). Plaintiff had a right of first refusal on the sale of defendants' commercial property. Defendants sold the property without giving plaintiff the right of first refusal, claiming it was not a bona fide sale because the same person controlled the seller and the buyer, an allegation negated by the RPT report:

Under the doctrine of tax estoppel, " [a] party to litigation may not take a position contrary to a position taken in [a] tax return' " ... . Here, 428 Co. and SS jointly submitted a Real Property Transfer Report (RPT report) ... to the Department of Taxation and Finance in which they certified that the transfer of the subject property was not a "sale between related companies or partners in business."  ...

The sworn statements made in the RPT report further estop defendants from asserting that various mortgage assumptions worth over $2 million constituted part of the purchase price, and that plaintiff was therefore unwilling to purchase the property "at the same price and under the same terms" ... . The instructions for the tax form require that any mortgage assumptions be listed as part of the "Full Sale Price" on the RPT report, and [defendants] did not do so here. ... [Defendants] listed only a cash sale price of $238,493 as the "Full Sale Price" on the RPT report, and it is undisputed that plaintiff was ready, willing, and able to purchase the property for that amount. Amalfi, Inc. v 428 Co., Inc., 2017 NY Slip Op 06770, Fourth Dept 9-29-17

 

ZONING (TRAFFIC CONCERNS JUSTIFIED THE ZONING BOARD'S RESTRICTIONS ON A RESTAURANT'S HOURS OF OPERATION AND REQUIREMENT FOR VALET PARKING (FOURTH DEPT))/VARIANCES (CONDITIONS, TRAFFIC CONCERNS JUSTIFIED THE ZONING BOARD'S RESTRICTIONS ON A RESTAURANT'S HOURS OF OPERATION AND REQUIREMENT FOR VALET PARKING (FOURTH DEPT))/PARKING (ZONING, TRAFFIC CONCERNS JUSTIFIED THE ZONING BOARD'S RESTRICTIONS ON A RESTAURANT'S HOURS OF OPERATION AND REQUIREMENT FOR VALET PARKING (FOURTH DEPT))/TRAFFIC (ZONING, TRAFFIC CONCERNS JUSTIFIED THE ZONING BOARD'S RESTRICTIONS ON A RESTAURANT'S HOURS OF OPERATION AND REQUIREMENT FOR VALET PARKING (FOURTH DEPT))

 

ZONING.

TRAFFIC CONCERNS JUSTIFIED THE ZONING BOARD'S RESTRICTIONS ON A RESTAURANT'S HOURS OF OPERATION AND REQUIREMENT FOR VALET PARKING (FOURTH DEPT).

The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the zoning board of appeals' (ZBA's) restrictions on the hours of operation of petitioner's restaurant, as well as the requirement for valey parking, were appropriate. The hours coincided with the availability of off-street parking:

"A zoning board may, where appropriate, impose reasonable conditions and restrictions as are directly related to and incidental to the proposed use of the property, and aimed at minimizing the adverse impact to an area that might result from the grant of a variance or special permit"... . "However, if a zoning board imposes unreasonable or improper conditions, those conditions may be annulled although the variance is upheld'" ... .

 

Here, the ZBA's conditions requiring valet parking and limiting the petitioner's hours of operation to coincide with the hours of access to the 40 off-street parking spaces granted in the license agreement were proper because the conditions related directly to the use of the land and were intended to protect the neighboring commercial properties from the potential adverse effects of the petitioner's operation, such as the anticipated increase in traffic congestion and parking problems... " The need to alleviate traffic congestion by requiring adequate parking facilities' is a legitimate consideration for a zoning board of appeals" ... .

 

... The ZBA was entitled to rely on the testimony of the local store owners, since "a zoning board's reliance upon specific, detailed testimony of neighbors based on personal knowledge does not render a variance determination the product of generalized and conclusory community opposition"... . Their testimony was supported by the observation of the petitioner's own expert that there is a great demand for parking in the area of the subject restaurant. Members of the ZBA were also entitled to rely on their own personal knowledge of the area in reaching their decision ... . Matter of Bonefish Grill, LLC v Zoning Bd. of Appeals of the Vil. of Rockville Ctr., 2017 NY Slip Op 06643, Fourth Dept 9-29-17