Settlement and Cross-motion timing

Zisholtz & Zisholtz, LLP v Mandel, 2018 NY Slip Op 07349 [2d Dept. 2018]

Contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, it failed to submit any evidence that the purported open court settlement agreement of January 28, 2016, constituted a valid and binding settlement agreement pursuant to CPLR 2104 (see Diarassouba v Urban, 71 AD3d 51, 54; Maldonado v Novartis Pharms. Corp., 40 AD3d 940). Rather, the plaintiff submitted only the January 29 stipulation, which was not executed by the plaintiff. Therefore, the January 29 stipulation did not constitute an enforceable settlement agreement binding upon the plaintiff and the appellant (see CPLR 2104). In the absence of an enforceable settlement agreement, the Supreme Court should have denied the plaintiff’s motion.

We also disagree with the Supreme Court’s determination denying the cross motion as untimely. The plaintiff served its motion by regular mail on March 17, 2016, with a return date of April 6, 2016. In order to make effective its demand for seven days’ notice of answering papers or a cross motion (see CPLR 2214[b]; CPLR 2215), the plaintiff was required to have mailed its motion papers at least 21 days prior to the return date (see CPLR 2103[b][2]; CPLR 2214[b]; Matter of Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v Fell, 53 AD3d 760, 761-762). The plaintiff mailed its motion papers only 20 days before the return date. Thus, the cross motion, which was served six days before the return date, was timely (see CPLR 2215).

Demetriou v Wolfer, 2018 NY Slip Op 07288 [2d Dept. 2018]

In July 2012, the plaintiff commenced this action to recover damages for dental malpractice. On Friday, October 30, 2015, the plaintiff, by text message, directed her former attorney to discontinue the action. On that date, the former attorney and defense counsel executed a stipulation of discontinuance (see CPLR 3217[a][2]). On Saturday, October 31, 2015, the plaintiff, by text message, directed her former attorney to, among other things, “not dismiss my case under any circumstances; please retract . . . instructions to discontinue.” Within 30 minutes of receiving that message, the plaintiff’s former counsel advised the plaintiff that the case had already been discontinued. The stipulation of discontinuance was then filed on Monday, November 2, 2015. The plaintiff moved, inter alia, to vacate the stipulation of discontinuance. The Supreme Court denied the motion, and the plaintiff appeals.

We agree with the Supreme Court’s determination to deny the plaintiff’s motion, inter alia, to vacate the stipulation of discontinuance. CPLR 2104 provides that, “[a]n agreement between parties or their attorneys relating to any matter in an action, other than one between counsel in open court, is not binding upon a party unless it is in a writing subscribed by him or his attorney or reduced to the form of an order and entered.” Here, there is no dispute that on October 30, 2015, the plaintiff’s former counsel had actual authority from his client to enter into the stipulation discontinuing the action on her behalf (see Hallock v State of New York, 64 NY2d 224, 230; Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP v Fashion Boutique of Short Hills, 56 AD3d 334, 335). Contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, the stipulation of discontinuance clearly evidenced the plaintiff’s intent to discontinue the action as of October 30, 2015, notwithstanding that she changed her mind prior to the filing of the stipulation on November 2, 2015 (see Lim v Choices, Inc., 60 AD3d 739, 740). Pursuant to CPLR 2104, the stipulation must be regarded as a valid, binding contract (see Pile v Grant, 41 AD3d 810), even though it did not effect a discontinuance until it was filed with the clerk of the court on November 2, 2015 (CPLR 3217[a][2]). In seeking to vacate the stipulation, the plaintiff failed to meet her burden to establish good cause sufficient to invalidate a contract, such as that the stipulation was the result of duress, fraud, mistake, or overreaching, or that the terms of the stipulation were unconscionable (see Chae Shin Oh v Jeannot, 160 AD3d 701Pieter v Polin, 148 AD3d 1191).

The bold is mine.

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