fugitive disentitlement doctrine

Gem Holdco, LLC v Changing World Tech., L.P., 2018 NY Slip Op 01563 [1st Dept 2018]

Although appellants appealed from orders and not the ensuing final judgment, under CPLR 5520(c) this Court has the discretion to deem the notices of appeal as valid and address the merits of the appeals (see Old Republic Constr. Ins. Agency of N.Y., Inc. v Fairmont Ins. Brokers, Ltd., 112 AD3d 456, 456 [1st Dept 2013]; Robertson v Greenstein, 308 AD2d 381 [1st Dept 2003], lv dismissed 2 NY3d 759 [2004]).

We also decline to bar the appeals based on the fugitive disentitlement doctrine. That doctrine permits a court to dismiss an appeal in civil cases where the party seeking relief is a fugitive evading the law whose absence frustrates the enforcement of a judgment or order (see People v Edwards, 117 AD3d 418, 418 [1st Dept 2014]).

The doctrine applies where the fugitive is a former New York resident who changed residency or otherwise fled to another state in a willful and deliberate effort to avoid the jurisdiction of the New York courts; was a resident of another state present in New York when an arrest warrant was issued who fled the state in order to avoid an arrest warrant; or, as in Wechsler v Wechsler (45 AD3d 470 [1st Dept 2007]), was wanted in New York pursuant to a warrant and refused to return to the state for fear of being arrested in defiance of a separate court order directing the fugitive to appear in court. Absent a clear showing that Danzik took improper steps to avoid extradition, the doctrine does not apply where, as here, he never resided in New York, was not present in New York when the arrest warrant was issued, has not appeared in New York to face the arrest warrant, and has not defied a separate order to appear. This more narrow application of the doctrine satisfies all its principal rationales (see Empire Blue Cross & Blue Shield v Finkelstein, 111 F3d 278, 280 [2d Cir 1997]). We also note that there is no basis for applying the doctrine to this corporate appellant.


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