Friday, August 1, 2014

An injured firefighter's suit sounding in negligence.

Practice point:  General Municipal Law § 205-a establishes the right of an injured firefighter to recover against any party whose negligence in failing to comply with governmental requirements results directly or indirectly in the firefighter's injury. While recovery does not require proof of such notice as would be necessary to a cause of action alleging common-law negligence, the plaintiff still must establish that the circumstances surrounding the violation indicate that it was a result of neglect, omission, or willful or culpable negligence on the defendant's part. Here, defendant established, prima facie, that the alleged violations were not the result of neglect, omission, or willful or culpable negligence on his part, and, in opposition, plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

Student note:  General Obligations Law § 11-106 largely abolished the former so-called "firefighter's rule" by allowing firefighters to assert causes of action sounding in negligence for injuries suffered while in the line of duty against entities other than municipal employers and fellow workers.

Case:  Cassidy v. Korik, NY Slip Op 05405 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue:  A medical malpractice action based on a psychiatric consultation.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute is denied.

Practice point:  On receipt of plaintiffs' 90-day notice, defendants did not file a note of issue within 90 days.. However, plaintiffs refused certain requests to schedule a continued deposition of the injured defendant, and, after the notice was served, both parties demonstrated an intent to proceed with discovery. Further, there is no evidence that plaintiffs were prejudiced by the minimal delay involved in this case, nor is there a pattern of persistent neglect and delay in prosecuting the action. Neither is there any indication of an intent to abandon the action. Under these circumstances, the Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's exercise of its discretion in excusing defendants' failure to meet the deadline for filing the note of issue.

Student note:  CPLR 3216 is extremely forgiving in that it does not require, but merely authorizes, the Supreme Court to dismiss a plaintiff's action based on the plaintiff's unreasonable neglect to proceed. While the statute prohibits the Supreme Court from dismissing an action based on neglect to proceed whenever the plaintiff has shown a justifiable excuse for the delay in the prosecution of the action and a meritorious cause of action, such a dual showing is not strictly necessary to avoid dismissal.

Case:  Altman v. Donnenfeld, NY Slip Op 05402 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: An injured firefighter's suit sounding in negligence.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An untimely cross-motion for summary judgment.

Practice point:  The Appellate determined that the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying as untimely plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. While the motion was made more than 120 days after the note of issue was filed and, therefore, was facially untimely, an untimely motion for summary judgment may be considered by the court where, as here, a timely motion was made on nearly identical grounds. The rationale is that the issues raised by the untimely motion are already properly before the motion court and, thus, the nearly identical nature of the grounds may provide the requisite good cause, pursuant to CPLR 3212 [a], to review the merits of the untimely motion.

Student note:  The court, in deciding the timely motion, may search the record and award summary judgment to a nonmoving party.

Case:  Wernicki v. Knipper, NY Slip Op 05324 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: A motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute is denied.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Denial of a motion to dismiss on a general release and waiver.

Practice point:  The defendants presented proof, in the form of the general release and the waiver, demonstrating their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the complaint and on their counterclaim for a judgment declaring that the mechanic's liens against their property are null and void. However, in opposition, the plaintiffs submitted proof raising triable issues of fact regarding, among other things, whether the parties' intentions were reflected by the terms of the general release and the waiver.

Student note:  Generally, a valid release that is clear and unambiguous on its face constitutes a complete bar to an action on a claim which is the subject of the release absent fraudulent inducement, fraudulent concealment, misrepresentation, mutual mistake or duress.

Case: Patti Constr. Corp. v 111-16 Atl. Ave. Realty Corp., NY Slip Op 05311 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: An untimely cross-motion for summary judgment.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Return of down-payment on contract for sale of real property.

Practice point:  To prevail on the cause of action, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant breached or repudiated the contract and that the plaintiff was ready, willing, and able to perform on the closing date. The rule is that, where the vendor's title is incurably defective, a vendee can recover the money paid on the contract from a defaulting vendor, without a showing of tender or even of willingness and ability to perform, but a tender and demand are required to put the vendor in default where title could be cleared without difficulty in a reasonable time. In that latter situation, the seller is entitled to a reasonable time to make the title good. When the vendor is on notice of the defect prior to the scheduled closing date and does nothing to correct it until after the closing date, the purchaser need not tender performance,  as such tender would be meaningless.

Student note:  Where a seller seeks to hold a purchaser in breach of contract, the seller must establish that he or she  was ready, willing, and able to perform on the time-of-the-essence closing date, and that the purchaser failed to demonstrate a lawful excuse for its failure to close.

Case:  Martocci v. Schneider, NY Slip Op 05308 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: Denial of a motion to dismiss on a general release and waiver.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A fall on the ice, out of season but actionable.

Practice point:  Defendant failed to establish that it lacked constructive notice of a large layer of ice which allegedly caused the plaintiff to slip and fall in the defendant's parking lot.  At a hearing held pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50-h, and at her deposition, the plaintiff testified that she had seen the ice condition the evening before the accident when she parked her car in the lot. In support of its motion, the defendant failed to establish that ice was not present when it last inspected or cleaned the area. In addition, the defendant failed to eliminate all triable issues of fact as to whether the large layer of ice upon which the plaintiff allegedly slipped was created by the defendant's snow removal efforts in the days prior to the accident.

Student note:  A defendant who moves for summary judgment in a slip-and-fall case has the initial burden of making a prima facie showing that it neither created the hazardous condition nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence for a sufficient length of time to discover and remedy it. To meet its initial burden on the issue of lack of constructive notice, the defendant must offer some evidence as to when the area in question was last cleaned or inspected relative to the time of plaintiff's fall.

Case:  Dhu v. New York City Hous. Auth., NY Slip Op 05300 (2d Dept. 2014) 

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue: Return of down-payment on contract for sale of real property.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The City's Human Rights Law and an allegation of discrimination based on disability.

Practice point:  Here, the defendant met its burden of demonstrating entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by offering evidence that the plaintiff, at the time of his discharge, was not suffering from a disability that would require an accommodation.
In any event, said the Appellate Division, there was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason for his termination of employment. In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a
triable issue of fact.

Student note:  The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual who is disabled, pursuant to Administrative Code
of City  of NY § 8-107[15]).

Case:  Caban v. New York Methodist Hosp., NY Slip Op 05292 (2d Dept. 2014)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: A fall on the ice, out of season but actionable.