Chowdhury v Hudson Val. Limousine Serv., LLC, 2018 NY Slip Op 04526 [2d Dept 2018]

"The nature and degree of a penalty to be imposed under CPLR 3126 for discovery violations is addressed to the court's discretion" (Crupi v Rashid, 157 AD3d 858, 859; see Dimoulas v Roca, 120 AD3d 1293, 1295; Arpino v F.J.F. & Sons Elec., Co., Inc., 102 AD3d 201, 210; Zakhidov v Boulevard Tenants Corp., 96 AD3d 737, 738). "The general rule is that the court will impose a sanction commensurate with the particular disobedience it is designed to punish and go no further than that" (Crupi v Rashid, 157 AD3d at 859; see Zakhidov v Boulevard Tenants Corp., 96 AD3d at 739; Patrick M. Connors, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, C3126:8). This Court is vested with corresponding power to substitute its own discretion for that of the motion court, even in the absence of abuse (see Those Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London v Occidental Gems, Inc., 11 NY3d 843, 845; Household Fin. Realty Corp. of NY v Cioppa, 153 AD3d 908, 910; Lewis v John, 87 AD3d 564, 565).

In light of Koonin's failure to comply with multiple court orders and so-ordered stipulations directing him to appear for the EBT, the Supreme Court properly concluded that Koonin engaged in willful and contumacious conduct (see Riccuiti v Consumer Prod. Servs., LLC, 71 AD3d 754Carabello v Luna, 49 AD3d 679, 680). However, under the circumstances, it was an improvident exercise of discretion to grant those branches of the motion and cross motion which were to strike Koonin's answer in light of the fact that the court also granted those branches of the motion and cross motion which were to preclude Koonin from offering any evidence at the time of trial (see e.g. Hasan v 18-24 Luquer St. Realty, LLC, 144 AD3d 631, 633; Piatek v Oak Dr. Enters., Inc., 129 AD3d 811, 812).

Cannon v 111 Fulton St. Condominium, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 04523 [2d Dept 2018]

Here, the so-ordered stipulation did not set a time, date, or place for the plaintiff's deposition, instead stating merely that the plaintiff's deposition was to be held "on or before" March 16, 2015, "at a time and location to be agreed upon." In light of this, the defendants' minimal assertion that the plaintiff failed to appear, which relied on the hearsay assertion of an unnamed employee of defense counsel, was insufficient to demonstrate that the plaintiff willfully and contumaciously violated the so-ordered stipulation (see Yong Soon Oh v Hua Jin, 124 AD3d 639, 641; Deer Park Assoc. v Town of Babylon, 121 AD3d at 740; Vaccaro v Weinstein, 117 AD3d 1033, 1034; Orgel v Stewart Tit. Ins. Co., 91 AD3d 922, 923). Similarly, the defendants did not allege in [*3]their motion that the plaintiff had failed to provide the outstanding written discovery that was included in the so-ordered stipulation. Therefore, since the defendants failed to demonstrate that the plaintiff knew when and where to appear for her deposition, there was no evidence of ongoing willful or contumacious conduct (see PNC Bank, N.A. v Campbell, 142 AD3d 1148, 1149). Accordingly, we disagree with the Supreme Court's determination to grant that branch of the defendant's motion which was to preclude the plaintiff from offering evidence at trial.

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