Still almost impossible to vacate a stip.

CPLR R. 5015

Singh v North Shore Univ. Hosp., 2010 NY Slip Op 06626 (App. Div., 2nd 2010)

Apparently, when the exhibits available for the jury's review were collected, it was discovered that the plaintiff's attorney's "typewritten summation notes," which were not in evidence, had been mixed in with the plaintiff's decedent's medical records, which were in evidence. Soon thereafter, the defendants moved to vacate the stipulation of settlement, and for a new trial. The Supreme Court, which determined that the plaintiff's attorney "intentionally included" the notes "with" the medical records, granted the motion, vacated the stipulation of settlement, and ordered a new trial. Furthermore, the Supreme Court, sua sponte, directed the plaintiff's attorney to pay the defendants' "actual trial expenses" and a sanction in the sum of $10,000, and referred the matter to the Grievance Committee for the Eleventh Judicial District.

Stipulations of settlement, favored by the courts and not lightly set aside (see Hallock v State of New York, 64 NY2d 224, 230), are contracts subject to principles of contract interpretation (see McCoy v Feinman, 99 NY2d 295, 302). Only where there is cause sufficient to invalidate a contract, such as mistake or fraud, will a party be relieved from the consequences of a stipulation of settlement (see McCoy v Feinman, 99 NY2d at 302; Hallock v State of New York, 64 NY2d at 230).

Here, the defendants failed to establish a basis for the vacatur of the stipulation of settlement. The record does not establish that the defendants entered into the stipulation because they were aware that the plaintiff's attorney's typewritten summation notes had been made available to the jury. Accordingly, the Supreme Court improperly granted the defendants' motion to vacate the stipulation of settlement (cf. Masella v Leemilt's Flatbush Ave., 112 AD2d 1027, 1028) and for a new trial, and improperly, sua sponte, directed the plaintiff's attorney to pay the defendants' trial costs.

Interesting facts.

The bold is mine.

 

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