3126 [the records did not exist]

Tanriverdi v United Skates of Am., Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 05885 [2nd Dept 2018]

As a result of the plaintiffs' failure to disclose salon appointment records dating back to February 2011, the conditional order became absolute (see Wilson v Galicia Contr. & Restoration Corp., 10 NY3d 827, 830; Mars v Sharp, 90 AD3d 865, 865-866; Zouev v City of New York, 32 AD3d 850, 850). To be relieved of the adverse impact of the conditional order, the plaintiffs were required to demonstrate a reasonable excuse and a potentially meritorious cause of action (see Gibbs v St. Barnabas Hosp., 16 NY3d 74, 79-83; Corex-SPA v Janel Group of N.Y., Inc., 156 AD3d 599, 602; Zouev v City of New York, 32 AD3d at 850-851). Here, in response to the defendant's motion, the plaintiffs submitted evidence indicating that the conditional order of dismissal directed them to produce appointment records that did not exist, thereby demonstrating a reasonable excuse for their failure to produce the records in question (see Smith v County of Nassau, 138 AD3d 726, 728; Gottfried v Maizel, 68 AD3d 1060, 1061). The plaintiffs additionally demonstrated a potentially meritorious cause of action (see Miskanic v Roller Jam USA, Inc., 71 AD3d 1102, 1102-1103). Consequently, the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in granting the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint.

Contrary to the defendant's contention, CPLR 3126 did not otherwise justify the Supreme Court's determination to dismiss the complaint. "Actions should be resolved on their merits whenever possible, and the drastic remedy of striking a pleading should not be employed without a clear showing that the failure to comply with court-ordered discovery was willful and contumacious" (Nunez v Laidlaw, 150 AD3d 1124, 1125; see Zakhidov v Boulevard Tenants Corp., 96 AD3d 737, 739). The defendant failed to make a clear showing that the plaintiffs' conduct was willful and contumacious, since, among other things, the plaintiffs complied with many discovery demands and substantially complied with the court's disclosure orders once the parties resumed discovery after failing to reach a settlement agreement. The plaintiffs' conduct did not warrant dismissal (see Nunez v Laidlaw, 150 AD3d at 1126; McDermott v Bahnatka, 83 AD3d 1014, 1015; LOP Dev., LLC v ZHL Group, Inc., 78 AD3d 1020, 1020).

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