Monday, February 8, 2016

A lessee/sublessor's liability.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division reversed, and reinstated the complaint in this action which plaintiff commenced after he allegedly was injured when he slipped and fell on premises that had been leased by defendant, and then subleased to another corporate entity.  Defendant failed to establish, prima facie, that the nonparty sublessee assumed the exclusive obligation to maintain the premises, and that defendant, as lessee/sublessor, had no duty to maintain the premises.  Since defendant failed to meet its initial burden as the movant, it was not necessary to review the sufficiency of plaintiff's opposition papers.

Student note:  An out-of-possession landlord may be liable for injuries occurring on the premises if it has retained control of the premises, is contractually obligated to perform maintenance and repairs, or is obligated by statute to perform such maintenance and repairs.  However, where the premises have been leased and subleased and the subtenant assumes the exclusive obligation to maintain the premises, both the out-of-possession landlord and the out-of-possession lessee/sublessor will be free from liability for injuries to a third party caused by the negligence of the subtenant in possession.

Case:  Iturrino v. Brisbane S. Setauket, LLC, NY Slip Op 00480 (2d Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  A legal malpractice claim based on violation of a contract's non-disparagement provision.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Dismissal of a fraud claim.

Practice point:  Pursuant to CPLR 3016(b), where a cause of action is based upon fraud or aiding and abetting fraud, the circumstances constituting the wrong must be stated in detail.  The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal of the claim here, as the causes of action alleging fraud contained only bare and conclusory allegations, without any supporting detail.  Absent that detail, they failed to satisfy the statutory requirements.

Student note:   A cause of action to recover damages for fraud requires allegations of: (1) a false representation of fact, (2) knowledge of the falsity, (3) intent to induce reliance, (4) justifiable reliance, and (5) damages.

Case:  Doukas v. Ballard, NY Slip Op 00474 (2d Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue:  A lessee/sublessor's liability.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A double-parked vehicle, negligence, and proximate cause.

Practie point:  The Appellate Division reversed the motion court, and denied plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability in this action where plaintiff's vehicle was double-parked, in violation of 34 RCNY 4-08(f)(1), when it was struck by defendants' vehicle as that vehicle attempted to pass plaintiff's car. Plaintiff failed to show that his own negligence in double-parking his car in the traveling lane was not a proximate cause of the accident.

Student note:  The Appellate Division rejected, as a matter of law, plaintiff's assertion that the fact that his vehicle was double-parked merely furnished the occasion for the accident.

Case:  Brito v. RDJ Express Transp., NY Slip Op 00594 (1st Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Dismissal of a fraud claim.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CPLR 3408 and negotiating in good faith.

Practice point:  CPLR 3408 is a remedial statute, enacted in response to the 2008 mortgage crisis, which requires that the parties enter into and conduct negotiations in good faith. In this mortgage foreclosure action, the Appellate Division affirmed the denial of defendant's motion to dismiss  as a sanction for plaintiff's alleged failure to negotiate in good faith. The Appellate Division determined that the documentation defendant submitted in support of her motion did not establish that plaintiff failed to negotiate in good faith by refusing to accept defendant's proposal of a lump sum payment of in full satisfaction of the outstanding loan balance.

Student note:  The issue of whether a party failed to negotiate in good faith' within the meaning of CPLR 3408(f) will be determined by considering whether the totality of the circumstances demonstrates that the party's conduct did not constitute a meaningful effort at reaching a resolution.

Case:  Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v. Twersky, NY Slip Op 00473 (2d Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  A double-parked vehicle, negligence, and proximate cause.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Premature summary judgment motions.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division affirmed the granting of defendant's summary judgment motion even though it was made before defendant produced a witness  for deposition.  Defendant established prima facie that plaintiff's slip and fall on ice was not due to any negligence on its part by submitting a departmental director's affidavit stating that defendant operated a bus route with a stop at the subject location but did not "own, manage, maintain, operate, or control any bus stops."  Plaintiff failed to make a showing that discovery might lead to relevant evidence supporting her claim that defendant owned or was responsible for removing snow and ice from the accident location.

Plaintiff could not argue that defendant breached a common carrier's duty to provide a safe means of ingress, because plaintiff did not plead this theory of liability in her notices of claim.

Case:  Cruz v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 00586 (1st Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  CPLR 3408 and negotiating in good faith.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Unjust enrichment claims and the statute of frauds.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of defendant's motion to dismiss the unjust enrichment claim in this action to recover a finder's fee allegedly due plaintiff from the sale of certain assets belonging to a nonparty, and misappropriated by defendant. It is uncontested that the finder's fee was a matter of contract between plaintiff and the nonparty, and that plaintiff and defendant were not parties to a written agreement.

Plaintiff's claim is not, as defendant contends, barred by the statute of frauds, at  General Obligations Law § 5-701[a][10]. The Court of Appeals has upheld an unjust enrichment claim in the absence of a writing, and so the statute of frauds is inapplicable and irrelevant to the analysis.

Student note:  An unjust enrichment claim is founded on a quasi-contract theory of recovery and is imposed by equity to prevent injustice, in the absence of an actual agreement between the parties concerned.

Case:  Winthrop v. Rosenthal & Rosenthal, Inc., NY Slip Op 00582 (1st Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Premature summary judgment motions.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Disclosure regarding an expert's anticipated testimony.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of that branch of plaintiff's motion to compel defendants to provide further disclosure regarding the anticipated testimonies of their expert witnesses.  Defendants' expert disclosure statements sufficiently disclosed in reasonable detail the subject matter and the substance of the facts and opinions on which the experts were expected to testify, and a summary of the grounds for their opinions.

Student note:  There is no requirement that the expert set forth the specific facts and opinions upon which he or she is expected to testify, but, instead, only the substance of those facts and opinions.

Case:  Conway v. Elite Towing & Flatbedding Corp., NY Slip Op 00470 (2d Dept. 2016)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue:  Unjust enrichment claims and the statute of frauds.