Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A rear-end collision and summary judgment.

The Appellate Division affirmed the granting of plaintiff's summary judgment motion on the issue of liability, finding that plaintiff established that defendant-driver was negligent. Although plaintiff came to a sudden stop and defendants contend that the icy road conditions provide a valid, non-negligent explanation for the accident, a driver must maintain enough distance between himself and cars ahead so as to avoid collisions with stopped vehicles, taking into account weather and road conditions. Defendants' reliance on the emergency doctrine is misplaced, as defendant-driver was aware of inclement weather conditions and should have accounted for them.

Practice point:  A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the rear vehicle's driver, and imposes a duty on the part of the moving vehicle's operator to offer an adequate, nonnegligent explanation for the accident. An argument that the plaintiff stopped suddenly does not rebut the presumption of negligence.

Case:  Matos v. Sanchez, NY Slip Op 01306 (1st Dep't February 21, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  The continuous wrong doctrine.

Monday, February 27, 2017

An unsigned expert's report.

Practice point:  The motion court properly considered the report, even though it was unsigned, as it was incorporated into the expert's sworn affidavit, thus rendering it appropriate for consideration on defendant's summary judgment motion.

Case:  Pastabar CafĂ© Corp. v. 343 E. 8th St. Assoc., LLC, NY Slip Op 01305 (1st Dep't February 21, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  A rear-end collision and summary judgment.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dismissal of an age-based discrimination claim.

The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal in this age-based employment discrimination action brought under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws. In moving for summary judgment, defendant submitted video footage, which it believed showed plaintiff and another employee surveying and intending to purloin a customer's computer equipment, as a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating plaintiff.  In response to this showing, plaintiff failed to point to any evidence raising an issue of fact as to whether defendant's proffered reason was pretextual, or whether plaintiff's age otherwise played a part in its decision.

Practice point:   The absence of any evidence of age-based discriminatory animus is fatal to plaintiff's claim of hostile work environment.

Case:  Arifi v. Central Moving & Stor. Co., Inc., NY Slip Op 01268 (1st Dep't February 16, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue:  An unsigned expert's report.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Notices of claim.

Practice point: A notice of claim must state the time when, the place where and the manner in which the claim arose, pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50-e[2].  Service of the notice within 90 days after accrual of the claim is a condition precedent to the commencement of a tort action against a municipality or a public benefit corporation such as the Transit Authority. The purpose of the statutory notice requirement is to afford the public corporation an opportunity to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and to explore the merits of the claim while information is still readily available.  The statute is not meant as a sword to cut down honest claims, but merely as a shield to protect municipalities against spurious ones. Therefore, a court may, in its discretion, allow a mistake, irregularity, or defect in a notice of claim to be corrected as long as that mistake, irregularity, or defect was made in good faith and the public corporation was not prejudiced thereby.

Case:  Bowers v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 01174 (2d Dep't February 15, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Dismissal of an age-based employment discrimination claim.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The homeowner's exemption under the Labor Law.

Practice point:  Owners of a one- or two-family dwelling used as a residence are exempt from liability under Labor Law §§ 240(1) and 241(6), unless they directed or controlled the work being performed. The so-called homeowner's exemption was enacted to protect owners of one- and two-family dwellings who are not in a position to realize, understand, and insure against the responsibilities of strict liability imposed by the statute.  There are two requirements for a defendant's invoking the exemption. First, the defendant must show that the work was conducted at a dwelling that is a residence for only one or two families, and, second, the defendant does not direct or control the work.

Case:  Abdou v. Rampaul, NY Slip Op 01169 (2d Dep't February 15, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Notices of claim.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A supplier's liability under the Labor Law.

The Appellate Division affirmed the motion court dismissal of the complaint as against the defendant-supplier.  The supplier established that it was not an agent of the owner under Labor Law § 241(6), since it did not have the authority to direct, supervise, or control the injury-producing work.  Instead, it was merely the supplier of the allegedly defective mini-container, against whom liability under the Labor Law cannot be imposed.

Case:  Ahern v. NYU Langone Med. Ctr., NY Slip Op 01264 (1st Dep't February 16, 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  The homeowner's exemption under the Labor Law.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Court holiday

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Gilbert_Stuart_Williamstown_Portrait_of_George_Washington.jpg


















Tomorrow's issue: A supplier's liability under the Labor Law.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Manhole covers and the prior written notice requirement.

The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal in this action seeking recovery for injuries allegedly sustained when the front wheel of the bicycle plaintiff was riding came into contact with gravel located around a large hole, near a manhole cover.  The Appellate Division found that plaintiff failed to establish that an exception to the prior written notice requirement of Administrative Code of the City of New York § 7-201(c)(2) is at issue. The City's ownership of a manhole cover, which allows the City to access the sewer system and water pipes in order to perform maintenance and repairs, does not provide the City with a special benefit from that property unrelated to the public use.  Accordingly, it does not fall within the "special use" exception to the requirement that the City have prior written notice of the defect.

Case:  Chambers v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 01120 (1st Dep't February 10, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tuesday's issue:  A supplier's liability under the Labor Law.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Compiling the appellate record.

 Practice point:  It is the appellant's obligation of the to assemble a proper record on appeal, including all the relevant papers before the Supreme Court. An appeal that is based on an incomplete and improper record must be dismissed.

Case:  Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v. Hounnou, NY Slip Op 00958 (2d Dep't February 8, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Manhole covers and the prior written notice requirement.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A motion to strike an answer.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries and wrongful death, the Appellate Division found that, in the absence of evidence that the defendant willfully and contumaciously failed to appear for deposition, the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in conditionally striking her answer.  Under the circumstances, the appropriate remedy was to preclude defendant from offering any testimony at trial unless she appeared for a deposition at least 30 days before the trial.

Case:  Brodsky v. Amber Ct. Assisted Living, LLC, NY Slip Op 00955 (2d Dep't February 8, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Compiling the appellate record.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Liability under Labor Law § 241(6).

Labor Law § 241(6) imposes a nondelegable duty upon owners and contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to construction workers. In order to recover damages on a cause of action alleging a statutory violation, a plaintiff must establish the violation of an Industrial Code provision which sets forth specific safety standards, and must demonstrate that the injuries were proximately caused by the violation of an Industrial Code provision that is applicable under the circumstances of the case. Contributory and comparative negligence are valid defenses to a Labor Law § 241(6) claim.

Practice point:  A party is not entitled to recovery under Labor Law § 241(6) based on a violation of 12 NYCRR 23-1.7(e) (1) where the object he or she tripped over was an integral part of the construction.

Case:  Aragona v. State of New York, NY Slip Op 00954 (2d Dep't February 8, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  A motion to strike an answer.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Court holiday.

Announcement of Candidacy for the Illinois Legislature March 1832

Fellow-Citizens: I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal improvement system, and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles. If elected, I shall be thankful; if not it will be all the same.

Note:  In a field of thirteen candidates, of whom the top four were elected, he finished eighth. In his home district of New Salem, of 300 votes cast, he received 277.
__________________________________________

Tomorrow's issue: Liability under Labor Law § 241(6).

Friday, February 10, 2017

Appealing a sua sponte order.

Practice point:  There is no right to appeal from a sua sponte order. Neither is there a right to appeal from a judgment based on a sua sponte order.

Case:  Livathinos v. Vaughan, NY Slip Op 00920 (1st Dep't February 7, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tuesday's issue:   Liability under Labor Law § 241(6).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

An expert's affidavit in a medical malpractice action.

The Appellate affirmed dismissal, finding that the motion court properly determined that defendants made a prima facie showing that plaintiff's decedent did not sustain an intraventricular hemorrhage as a result of a fall at the hospital. In opposition, plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact, as her expert never addressed the assertion by defendants' expert that there was no radiological evidence of trauma.

Practice point:  Plaintiff's expert omitted facts regarding the rise in decedent's blood pressure just before her fall, thus failing to base his opinion on all relevant record evidence; this deficiency renders the opinion insufficient.  While plaintiff's expert posited that trauma to the front or lateral aspect of the head could cause the bleeding observed, the expert failed to adduce any evidence as to what, if any, portion of decedent's head was actually struck. Accordingly, the opinion is too speculative to raise an issue of fact. Moreover, plaintiff's expert's conclusion that the location of the bleed suggested head trauma was based on hindsight reasoning — that is, the expert used the injury itself as a basis to assume that certain conditions must have existed at the time of the injury. This reasoning is insufficient to defeat summary judgment.

Case:  Montilla v. St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hosp., NY Slip Op 00717 (1st Dep't February 2, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:   Appealing a sua sponte order.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Liability for injuries arising from a defective sidewalk, and city-owned tree wells.

Practice point:  Effective September 14 2003, Administrative Code of the City of New York § 7-210 shifted tort liability for injuries arising from a defective sidewalk from the City to the abutting property owner, absent certain exceptions. A tree well does not fall within the applicable Administrative Code definition of "sidewalk" and, thus, section 7-210 does not impose civil liability on property owners for injuries that occur in city-owned tree wells.

Case:  Antonyuk v. Brightwater Towers Condo Homeowners' Assn., Inc., NY Slip Op 00619 (2d Dep't February 1, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  An expert's affidavit in a medical malpractice action.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Vacating a default judgment.

Practice point:  Pursuant to CPLR 5015 (a), a court may vacate a default judgment for excusable neglect; newly-discovered evidence; fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct by an adverse party; lack of jurisdiction; or upon the reversal, modification or vacatur of a prior order.  However, CPLR 5015(a) does not provide an exhaustive list as to when a default judgment may be vacated, and a court may vacate its own judgment for sufficient reason and in the interests of substantial justice.

Case:  40 BP, LLC v. Katatikarn, NY Slip Op 00618 (2d Dep't February 1, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Liability for injuries arising from a defective sidewalk, and city-owned tree wells.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Discovery sanctions.

The Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court's Order which marked as withdrawn plaintiff's motion to strike the answer, denied an extension of time for discovery, marked the case off the calendar, and permitted either party, after discovery, to restore the matter to the trial ready calendar by notice of motion application only, and remanded the action.

While a court has broad discretion to supervise disclosure, the Appellate Division found that there was no basis for striking this case from the calendar as a sanction for the parties' failure to timely complete discovery.  Dismissal of a pre-note of issue case may be predicated on CPLR 3216 and Uniform Rules for Trial Courts (22 NYCRR 202.27), neither of which applies here.

Trial courts must fashion discovery orders consistent with their obligation to bring discovery to an end as quickly as possible. Marking a case off or striking a case during the discovery phase does not further that obligation because it only encourages inaction by the parties and counsel in completing discovery. Ultimately, marking a case off during discovery leads to unnecessary motion practice, loss of valuable time for discovery, and a waste of judicial resources.

Case:  Stewart v. Makhani, NY Slip Op 00577 (1st Dep't January 31, 2017)

Tomorrow's issue:  Vacating a default judgment.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Declaratory judgments.

Practice point:  A declaratory judgment is intended to declare the respective parties' legal rights based on a given set of facts, not to declare findings of fact. It is intended to serve a practical end in quieting or stabilizing an uncertain or disputed jural relation either as to present or prospective obligations.  It requires a justiciable controversy, in which the plaintiff has an interest sufficient to constitute standing to maintain the action. In addition, the controversy must involve actual prejudice to the plaintiff, not hypothetical, contingent, or remote prejudice.

Case:  Touro Coll. v. Novus Univ. Corp., NY Slip Op 00546 (1st Dep't January 26, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue: Discovery sanctions.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Resolving the issue of probable cause as a matter of law.

The Appellate Division affirmed the motion court's finding that there was an issue of fact regarding probable cause for plaintiff's search, seizure, and arrest, precluding summary judgment on the federal claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, and illegal search and seizure. The indictment is some evidence that the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest plaintiff. However, the evidence was suppressed, the indictment was dismissed, and the testimony conflicts as to what the officer observed in the moments preceding his interaction with and subsequent arrest of plaintiff.

Case:  Burgos-Lugo v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 00534 (1st Dep't January 26, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Declaratory judgments.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A CPLR 5015(a)(3) motion to vacate a judgment of foreclosure and sale.

The Appellate Division affirmed the order denying defendant's motion to vacate the judgment that was entered upon its failure to answer the complaint, and for leave to serve a late answer, finding that the motion was not made within a reasonable time after entry of the judgment.  In any event, defendant failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the default, which is required when a CPLR 5015(a)(3) motion alleges intrinsic fraud, that is, that the allegations in the complaint are false, rather than extrinsic fraud, which is a fraud practiced in obtaining a judgment such that a party may have been prevented from fully and fairly litigating the matter. Defendant failed to demonstrate some device, trick, or deceit that led it to believe that it need not defend the suit. Finally, despite the defendant's allegations of improper practices by plaintiff's agents in unrelated matters, it failed to meet its burden of establishing fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct on the part of the plaintiff in this matter that could warrant vacatur of the default judgment.

Case:  LaSalle Bank N.A. v. Oberstein, NY Slip Op 00462 (2d Dep't January 25, 2018)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Resolving the issue of probable cause as a matter of law.