§ 205(a) From Up On High

CPLR § 205 Termination of action
(a) New action by plaintiff

Recently the New York Court of Appeals and 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had occasion to discuss the recently amended CPLR § 205(a).  First, the New York Court of Appeals.  Underlying this decision is the Atlantic Yards fight that has been going on for some time.  For more on the substance of the case, and its potential impact, head over to The Legal Satyricon and Popehat.

Matter of Goldstein v New York State Urban Dev. Corp.,
2009 NY Slip Op 08677 (Ct. App., 2009)

Petitioners’ initial challenge to ESDC’s determination authorizing condemnation of their properties was made in a timely federal court action. The gist of that action was that the disputed condemnation was not supported by a public use and thus violated the Fifth Amendment of the Federal Constitution…In its answer, respondent, while defending the challenged determination on the merits, sought the petition’s dismissal on the ground that it had not been timely brought.


While the concurrence protests that failure to bar this proceeding because it was not commenced within 30 days of subject condemnation determination will impair the Legislature’s comprehensive plan for prompt adjudication of such determinations, this overlooks that it is not in the main the availability of CPLR 205 (a) that has delayed this condemnation, but the availability of a federal forum. Petitioners had every right to litigate their federal claims in federal court and to include in their federal action a supplemental state law cause of action (28 USC § 1367 [a]; City of Chicago v International Coll. of Surgeons, 522 US 156, 169, 171 [1997]). And, even without a state tolling provision, petitioners would have had the right under federal law to recommence their unadjudicated pendant state law claim in state court at the federal action’s conclusion (28 USC § 1367 [d]). However much they may have wished to streamline the process, it was not within the power of state legislators to deprive condemnees of access to federal court to litigate federal constitutional public use issues or to limit the federal courts’ jurisdiction to adjudicate supplemental state law claims (see TBK Partners v Western Union Corp., 675 F2d 456, 460 n 3 [2d Cir 1982], citing Railway Co. v Whitton’s Administrator, 80 US [13 Wall] 270, 286 [1872]; see also Marshall v Marshall, 547 US 293, 298-299, 313 [2006]). This being the case, it is practically beside the point to cavil about the frustration of the state legislative design.

The decision from the Second Circuit discusses the old 205(a), and ultimately dismisses the lawsuit as untimely. You can find the decision over at Full Court Pass, where I found it.  I have a comment there.  With the recent amendment to § 205, and few decisions discussing the statute, these two cases provide some valuable insight.  Neither case discusses what will happen when a case is dismissed for failure to prosecute, where the court made none of the required findings.

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