Monday, December 31, 2012

Promissory notes and summary judgment in lieu of a complaint.

Practice point: To establish prima facie entitlement to summary judgment in lieu of a complaint, a plaintiff must show that the defendant executed a  promissory note containing an unequivocal and unconditional obligation to repay, and defendant's failure to pay in accordance with the note's terms. Once the plaintiff submits evidence establishing these elements, the burden shifts to the defendant to submit evidence establishing the existence of a triable issue with respect to a bona fide defense.

Student note: .Whether a note precludes a fraud in the inducement defense hinges upon the language used by the parties. The key is whether the obligor's reliance on a proffered misrepresentation is reasonable in light of the language used in the note.

Case: Zyskind v. FaceCake Mktg. Tech., Inc., NY Slip Op 08781 (1st Dept. 2012).


Wednesday’s issue: Preemption.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Liability of joint tortfeasors.

Practice point: CPLR 1601(1) provides that a joint tortfeasor whose culpability is 50% or less is not jointly liable for all of a plaintiff's non-economic loss but is severally liable for its proportionate share.

Student note: Under the statute, the trier of fact must consider the relative culpable conduct of a nonparty in apportioning culpability, unless the plaintiff proves that, with due diligence, he was unable to obtain jurisdiction over the nonparty.

Case: Belmer v. HHM Assoc., Inc., 08779 (1st Dept. 2012).


Monday’s issue: Promissory notes and summary judgment in lieu of a complaint.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Emotional distress damages in a medical malpractice action.

Practice point: The emotional distress damages purportedly suffered by the plaintiff as a result of a blood transfusion, which allegedly became necessary because of the defendants' malpractice, are compensable in this action to recover damages for medical malpractice. All that is needed to recover for emotional injury is breach of defendant’s duty to plaintiff that results directly in emotional harm, and evidence sufficient to guarantee the genuineness of the claim.

Student note: Here, the court held that, inasmuch as the plaintiff has alleged from the outset that receiving a transfusion would violate her religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness, the record contained a sufficient guarantee that her claim of having suffered emotional distress as a result of the transfusion is genuine.

Case: DiGeronimo v. Fuchs, NY Slip Op 08685 (2d Dept. 2012).


Tomorrow’s issue: Liability of joint tortfeasors.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hospital's liability for acts of a private attending physician.

Practice point: In general, a hospital cannot be held vicariously liable for the negligence of a private attending physician.

Student note: A hospital cannot be held concurrently liable with such a physician unless its employees commit independent acts of negligence or the attending physician's orders are contraindicated by normal practice.

Case: Corletta v. Fischer, NY Slip Op 08682 (2d Dept.2012).


Tomorrow’s issue: Emotional distress damages in a medical malpractice action.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Court holiday.

The courts are closed to mark Christmas Day.

A safe, happy, and blessed holiday to you all.

Tomorrow's issue: Hospital's liability for acts of a private attending physician.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cross motions for summary judgment.

Practice point: Generally, a cross motion for summary judgment made more than 120 days after the filing of a note of issue may be considered on its merits if another party has made a timely, pending motion on nearly identical grounds.

 Student note: Here, however, the cross motion was not responsive to a timely, pending motion for summary judgment and, therefore, the Supreme Court was without authority to consider it on its merits.

Case: Bicounty Brokerage Corp. v. Burlington Ins. Co., NY Slip Op 08472 (2d Dept. 2012).


Wednesday’s issue: Hospital’s liability for acts of a private attending physician.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Failure to file a note of issue.

Practice point: While the failure to comply with a court order to file a note of issue may provide the basis for dismissal under CPLR 3216, courts may not dismiss an action based on neglect to prosecute unless the statutory preconditions to dismissal are met.

Student note: A 90-day demand to file a note of issue is one of the statutory preconditions, pursuant to CPLR 3216[b][3].

Case: Alii v. Baijnath, NY Slip Op 08469 (2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision. 

Monday’s issue: Cross motions for summary judgment.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Workers' Compensation Law.

Practice point: The receipt of workers' compensation benefits is the exclusive remedy that a worker may obtain against an employer for losses suffered as a result of an injury sustained in the course of employment.

Student note: A person may be deemed to have more than one employer for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law, a general employer and a special employer. Moreover, where facts demonstrate the plaintiff's dual employment status, whether the relationship between two corporate entities is that of joint venturers, parent and subsidiary, corporate affiliates, or general and special employers, immunity will be extended to all the plaintiff's employers.

Case: Alfonso v. Pacific Classon Realty, LLC, NY Slip Op 08468 ((2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision. 

Tomorrow’s issue: Failure to file a note of issue.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vacating a default, and law office failure.

Practice point: In order to vacate the default in answering the complaint, the defendant is required to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the failure to serve an answer and a potentially meritorious defense, pursuant to CPLR 5015[a].

Student note:  While the Supreme Court has the discretion to accept law office failure as a reasonable excuse, the excuse must be supported by detailed allegations of fact explaining the failure.

Case: HSBC Bank USA v. Wider, NY Slip Op 08285 (2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision 

Tomorrow’s issue: Workers’ Compensation Law.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Expert testimony.

Practice point: Expert testimony is unnecessary unless it assists the jury in clarifying an issue which requires professional or technical knowledge possessed by an expert and beyond the comprehension of a typical juror.

Student note: The admissibility and scope of expert testimony is a determination within the discretion of the trial court.

Case: Galasso v. 400 Exec. Blvd., LLC, NY Slip Op 08282 (2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision. 

Tomorrow’s issue: Vacating a default, and law office failure.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Practice point: To succeed on a motion for judgment as a matter of law, pursuant to CPLR 4401, a defendant has the burden of showing that there is no rational process by which the jury could find in favor of the plaintiff and against the moving defendant.

Student note: In determining whether the defendant has met this burden, a court must accept the plaintiff's evidence as true and accord the plaintiff the benefit of every reasonable inference which can reasonably be drawn from the evidence presented at trial.

Case: Figueroa v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 08279 (2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision. 

Tomorrow’s issue: Expert testimony.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Arbitration clauses.

Practice point: Defendants did not waive the right to arbitrate by merely serving 
an answer and opposing plaintiff's motion.

Student note: The issue of whether an anti-dissolution provision in an LLC's operating agreement violates public policy does not fall into any of the categories of matters that cannot be arbitrated.

Case: SSM Realty Group, LLC v. 20 Sherman Assoc., LLC, NY Slip Op 08408 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Monday’s issue: Motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pleading fraud with particularity, and punitive damages.

Practice point: While plaintiffs' claim that defendants used the contract as a cover for a fraudulent billing scheme stated a fraud claim separate from the contract claim, plaintiffs failed to specify which invoices are inflated. Therefore, the claim lacked the particularity required by CPLR 3016. However, plaintiffs were given leave to replead this part of their complaint, since the claim is otherwise meritorious on its face.

Student note: Plaintiffs' allegations of a run-of-the-mill commercial dispute, involving only these parties, does not rise to the standard necessary to recover punitive damages.

Case: Lax v. Design Quest N.Y. Ltd., N.Y. Slip Op 08406 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Arbitration clauses.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Res judicata and collateral estoppel.

Practice point: The claim in the wrongful death action at issue here did not arise from the same or related transactions as the claim in the Surrogate's Court turnover proceeding. Thus, the remaining claim for conscious pain and suffering in the wrongful death action is not barred by the principle of res judicata. 

Student note: Similarly, that remaining claim is not barred by the principle of collateral estoppel because the issues raised in the claim were not addressed, either in theory or in fact, in the Surrogate's Court proceeding.

Case: Lind v. Greenspan, NY Slip Op 08404 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Pleading fraud with particularity, and punitive damages.

Easements by prescription.

Practice point: An easement by prescription is demonstrated by proof of the adverse, open and notorious, and continuous use of the subject property for the prescriptive period.

Student note: Where the plaintiff demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, the open and notorious, continuous, and undisputed use of the subject property, it is presumed that the use was adverse, and the burden shifts to the opponent of the alleged prescriptive easement to show that the use was permissive.

Case: Ducasse v. D’Alonzo, NY Slip Op 08090 (2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Res judicata and collateral estoppel.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stipulations.

Practice point: Oral stipulations entered into in open court by counsel on behalf of their clients are binding, pursuant to CPLR 2104.

Student note: Stipulations of settlement are favored by the courts and not lightly cast aside . A party will be relieved from the consequences of a stipulation made during litigation only where there is cause sufficient to invalidate a contract, such as fraud, collusion, mistake or accident.

Case: Caroli v. Allstate Ins. Co., NY Slip Op 08086 (2d Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Easements by prescription.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Admissibility of third-party business records.

Practice point: The court admitted into evidence certain third-party business records pursuant to the party admission exception to the hearsay rule. The documents were bills of lading generated by defendant's agent, a stevedore, in the course of its duties for defendant, and were therefore receivable against defendant.

Student note: The documents were also admissible as third-party business records. While no representative of the stevedore testified as to the foundation for their introduction into evidence, the bills of lading were created in the agent's performance of its contractual duties and therefore were sufficiently reliable to be admissible without such testimony.

Case: K & K Enters., Inc. v. Stemcor USA Inc., NY Slip Op 07394 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Monday’s issue: Stipulations.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Motion for leave to renew.

Practice point: Defendants' motion for leave to renew their motion to vacate an order and ensuing judgment entered on default was denied because the self-styled “new facts" submitted on renewal in the form of affidavits of merit could have been submitted on the prior motion to vacate the default judgment, and defendants failed to offer a reasonable justification for the failure to do so, pursuant to CPLR 2221[e][3].

Student note: Defendants’ claim that their former counsel mistakenly made the prior motion pursuant to CPLR 2221, which did not require the submission of an affidavit of merit, was undermined by counsel's identification of the motion as one to vacate a prior order and judgment.

Case: DC Media Capital LLC v. Sivan, NY Slip Op 07391 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Admissibility of third-party business records.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Liability for a fall down a winding staircase.

Practice point: Plaintiff allegedly was injured in a fall down defendant-premises owner’s winding staircase. Summary judgment was denied because the owner had a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and the configuration of the winding staircase and the partial absence of a handrail at its turn raise triable issues as to whether defendants were on constructive notice of a dangerous condition.

Student note: There was no triable issue as to whether the stairs were in violation of Administrative Code of City of NY § 27-375(e)(4) and (f). The stairs are not "interior stairs" within the meaning of the Administrative Code since they did not serve as a required exit, that is, as a required means of egress from the interior of building to an open exterior space, pursuant to Administrative Code § 27-232.

Case: Katz v. Blank Rome Tenzer Greenblatt, NY Slip Op 07377 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Motion for leave to renew.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fees for services while waiting for executed letter of intent.

Practice point: Appellate Division found that the motion court confused defendants' counterclaim for legal and consulting fees as consequential damages for plaintiffs' alleged fraud with plaintiffs' claim for similar fees pursuant to the parties' letter of intent, and erred in finding that defendants had not proved damages, inasmuch as they were not obligated to do so in opposition to plaintiffs' showing.

Student note: Appellate Division also found that even if plaintiffs' motion was predicated on defendants' failure to show loss causation, because they had engaged their attorneys and consultants prior to entering into negotiations with plaintiffs, plaintiffs failed to show that defendants did not incur fees for professional services during their negotiations and while waiting for plaintiffs to execute their copy of the letter of intent.

Case: Abyssinian Dev. Corp. v. Bistricer, NY Slip Op 07374 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Liability for a fall down a winding staircase.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Defective tree wells.

Practice point: In order to hold the City liable for injuries resulting from defects in tree wells in City-owned sidewalks, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the City has received prior written notice of the defect, pursuant to Administrative Code of the City of New York § 7-201[c][2].

Student note: Here, in opposition to the City's showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, plaintiff submitted a Big Apple Map to prove that the City had notice of the allegedly defective condition. However, the map only provided notice that every tree well on the block lacked a fence or barrier, which was not sufficient to bring the particular condition to the City's attention.

Case: O’Donoghue v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 07371 (1st Dept. 2012).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Fees for services while waiting for executed letter of intent.