Finality

Aspen Specialty Ins. Co. v Ironshore Indem. Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 08253 [1st Dept. 2018]

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Arthur F. Engoron, J.), entered January 29, 2018, which denied defendant Ironshore Indemnity Incorporated (Ironshore’s) motion for leave to renew a prior motion to dismiss the complaint, unanimously affirmed, without costs. Appeal from order, same court and Justice, entered on or about March 27, 2018, which, inter alia, denied Ironshore’s motion to reargue the court’s January 29, 2018 decision, unanimously dismissed, without costs, as taken from a non-appealable order.

The court properly denied Ironshore’s renewal motion on the ground that the parties’ rights and responsibilities under the respective insurance contracts, or specifically, Alphonse Hotel’s entitlement to additional insured status under the Ironshore policy, was conclusively adjudicated by our decision in Aspen Specialty Ins. Co. v Ironshore Indem. Inc. (144 AD3d 606, 606 [1st Dept 2016]), an order from which Ironshore did not appeal. At this juncture, the time to appeal has expired, and the court properly determined that renewal based upon the Court of Appeals decision in Burlington Insurance Company v NYC Tr. Auth. (29 NY3d 313 [2017]), is no longer available (see Matter of Huie (Furman), 20 NY2d 568, 572 [1967]).

no appeal from a default

Matter of Fatima K. v Ousmane F., 2018 NY Slip Op 08431 [1st Dept., 2018]

The court correctly considered the father’s untimely appearance at the custody hearing, without explanation, and entered its order on default (see Matter of Nyree S. v Gregory C., 99 AD3d 561, 562 [1st Dept 2012], lv denied 20 NY3d 854 [2012]; Matter of Anita L. v Damon N., 54 AD3d 630, 631 [1st Dept 2008]). As the father did not avail himself of the opportunity to vacate his default, and no appeal lies from an order entered upon the aggrieved party’s default, the appeal is dismissed (see CPLR 5511; Nyree S., 99 AD3d at 562).

Mailing

CitiMortgage, Inc. v Moran, 2018 NY Slip Op 08435 [1st Dept., 2018]

Plaintiff failed to establish a presumption that it properly served defendant with RPAPL 1304 notice through proof either of actual mailing or of a standard office practice or procedure for proper addressing and mailing (see American Tr. Ins. Co. v Lucas, 111 AD3d 423, 424 [1st Dept 2013]). Its business operations analyst testified at the hearing on this issue that she was familiar with plaintiff’s record keeping practices and procedures. However, she did not testify either that she was familiar with plaintiff’s mailing procedures or that she was personally aware that RPAPL 1304 notices had been mailed to defendant (see HSBC Bank USA v Rice, 155 AD3d 443, 444 [1st Dept 2017]; HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Gifford, 161 AD3d 618 [1st Dept 2018]). Nor does the fact that some of the RPAPL 1304 notices admitted into evidence at the hearing bear a certified mail number suffice to raise the presumption of proper service (Nationstar Mtge., LLC v Cogen, 159 AD3d 428, 429 [1st Dept 2018]).

Insanity toll: CPLR 208

Matter of Brigade v Olatoye, 2018 NY Slip Op 08437 [1st Dept., 2018]

The medical records submitted on the petition present an issue of fact as to whether petitioner possessed “an over-all ability to function” during the relevant period (see McCarthy v Volkswagen of Am. , 55 NY2d 543, 548 [1982]). Thus, a hearing must be held to determine whether the statute of limitations on this untimely filed proceeding should be tolled for insanity (CPLR 208; see Santana v Union Hosp. of Bronx , 300 AD2d 56, 58 [1st Dept 2002]).

 

3215(c)

Fling v Integrity Bus. Solutions, Inc.,  2018 NY Slip Op 07691 [1st Dept. 2018]

Order, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Mary Ann Brigantti, J.), entered April 21, 2017, which, to the extent appealed from as limited by the briefs, granted defendants’ motion pursuant to CPLR 3215(c) to dismiss the complaint for failing to move for a default judgment within the one-year deadline, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, and the motion denied.

Although plaintiff’s excuse for failing to move for a default judgment within one year of defendants’ default is not entirely compelling, it must, however, be weighed against the merits of plaintiff’s claim and the prejudice to defendants (see LaValle v Astoria Constr. & Paving Corp., 266 AD2d 28 [1st Dept 1999]). Here, plaintiff’s affidavit sets out a meritorious action, and defendant Hutchins’s denials, contained in his own affidavit, merely raise triable issues of fact. Furthermore, defendants have offered no evidence of any prejudice from the delay, and there is strong public policy in favor of deciding cases on the merits (see Nedeltcheva v MTE Transp. Corp., 157 AD3d 423 [1st Dept 2018]).

Compare with the Second Department: BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP v Broskie, 2018 NY Slip Op 08005 [2d Dept. 2018]

Don’t forget to preserve

WebMD LLC v Aid in Recovery, LLC, 2018 NY Slip Op 07677 [1st Dept. 2018]

Plaintiff moved not only for summary judgment on its complaint but also to dismiss the mitigation defense. Defendant failed to oppose that part of plaintiff’s motion; hence, we decline to review the arguments defendant makes about mitigation on appeal (see Callisto Pharm., Inc. v Picker, 74 AD3d 545 [1st Dept 2010]; Lally v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 277 AD2d 9 [1st Dept 2000], appeal dismissed 96 NY2d 896 [2001]).

Caminiti v Extell W. 57th St. LLC., 2018 NY Slip Op 07667 [1st Dept. 2018]

Contrary to plaintiff’s assertion, defendants preserved their arguments about triable issues of fact by asserting them in their memorandum of law in opposition to plaintiff’s partial summary judgment motion. However, defendants failed to preserve their argument that even if plaintiff was injured by the ladder, his conduct was the sole proximate cause of his injuries, and we decline to review this fact-sensitive argument in the interest of justice.

Hearsay

Hearsay in opposition
Edwards v Rosario, 2018 NY Slip Op 07684 [1st Dept. 2018]

While the unsworn statement constitutes inadmissible hearsay, it may be considered in opposition to Earlybird’s motion because it is not the only evidence offered by plaintiff (see Erkan v McDonald’s Corp., 146 AD3d 466, 468 [1st Dept 2017).

Declaration against interest

Caminiti v Extell W. 57th St. LLC., 2018 NY Slip Op 07667 [1st Dept. 2018]

The court properly found that plaintiff’s testimony about her now-deceased husband’s statement regarding his accident is admissible as a declaration against interest (see generally Basile v Huntington Util. Fuel Corp., 60 AD2d 616, 617 [2d Dept 1977]; Guide to NY Evid rule 8.11, Statement Against Penal or Pecuniary Interest, http://www.nycourts.gov/judges/evidence/8-HEARSAY/8.11). Decedent’s statement that he should have known better than to use the ladder as he did, established that he knew his statement was against his interest. Although the statement was uncorroborated, it had sufficient indicia of reliability, in that the experienced, 52-year-old electrician described his accident to his wife alone in an emergency room while awaiting surgery, in the absence of any coercion or attempt to shift blame away from himself (cf. Nucci v Proper, 95 NY2d 597, 602 [2001]). Accordingly, we decline to reach plaintiff’s alternative arguments as to the statement’s admissibility.

CPLR 7511

Matter of NRT N.Y. LLC v Spell, 2018 NY Slip Op 07664 [1st Dept. 2018]

CPLR 7511 provides just four grounds for vacating an arbitration award, including that the arbitrator “exceeded his power” (CPLR 7511[b][1][iii]), which “occurs only where the arbitrator’s award violates a strong public policy, is irrational or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator’s power” (Matter of New York City Tr. Auth. v Transport Workers’ Union of Am., Local 100, AFL-CIO, 6 NY3d 332, 336 [2005]). Mere errors of fact or law are insufficient to vacate an arbitral award (Matter of Kowaleski, 16 NY3d 85, 90-91 [2010]). “[C]ourts are obligated to give deference to the decision of the arbitrator, … even if the arbitrator misapplied the substantive law in the area of the contract” (id.).

Here, the arbitrator’s conclusion that a sales commission was not due under the precise terms of the Agreement because the lease was not extended is neither wholly irrational nor contrary to any strong public policy. Accordingly, the motion to vacate should have been denied and the award confirmed (see Ingham v Thompson, 113 AD3d 534 [1st Dept 2014], lv denied 22 NY3d 866 [2014]; CPLR 7511[e]).

Matter of Miller Tabak & Co., LLC v Coppedge, 2018 NY Slip Op 07656 [1st Dept. 2018]

Petitioners waived any claim of arbitrator bias based on one arbitrator’s participation in a previous arbitration, which had been disclosed to the parties, by failing to raise any such claim or objection until the hearing was in progress (see Matter of Atlantic Purch., Inc. v Airport Props. II, LLC, 77 AD3d 824, 825 [2d Dept 2010]). In any event, there is no evidence to support any such claim (id.).

Matter of Progressive Advanced Ins. Co. v New York City Tr. Auth., 2018 NY Slip Op 07432 [2d Dept. 2018]

To be upheld, an award in a compulsory arbitration proceeding such as this one (see Insurance Law § 5105[b]) “must have evidentiary support and cannot be arbitrary and capricious” (Matter of Motor Veh. Acc. Indem. Corp. v Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 89 NY2d 214, 223; see Matter of Fiduciary Ins. Co. v American Bankers Ins. Co. of Florida, 132 AD3d 40, 45-46). “Moreover, with respect to determinations of law, the applicable standard in mandatory no-fault arbitrations is whetherany reasonable hypothesis can be found to support the questioned interpretation'” (Matter of Fiduciary Ins. Co. v American Bankers Ins. Co. of Florida, 132 AD3d at 46, quoting Matter of Shand [Aetna Ins. Co.], 74 AD2d 442, 454 [emphasis in original]; see Matter of Furstenberg [Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co.—Allstate Ins. Co.], 49 NY2d 757, 758).

Here, the arbitrator’s determination was supported by a “reasonable hypothesis” and cannot be said to be arbitrary or capricious (Matter of Fiduciary Ins. Co. v American Bankers Ins. Co. of Florida, 132 AD3d at 46; see Matter of Furstenberg [Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co.—Allstate Ins. Co.], 49 NY2d at 758-759).

Matter of Johnson v Riverhead Cent. Sch. Dist., 2018 NY Slip Op 08021 [2d Dept. 2018]

When reviewing compulsory arbitrations in education proceedings such as this, the court should accept the hearing officer’s credibility determinations, even where there is conflicting evidence and room for choice exists (see Matter of Berenhaus v Ward, 70 NY2d 436, 443-444; Matter of Powell v. Board of Educ. of Westbury Union Free School Dist., 91 AD3d 955, 955; Matter of Saunders v Rockland Board of Coop. Educ. Servs., 62 AD3d at 1013).

Prior restraint and contempt

Brummer v Wey, 2018 NY Slip Op 07843 [1st Dept. 2018]

Initially, we reiterate that, although it may ultimately be determined that defendants have libeled plaintiff, “[p]rior restraints are not permissible . . . merely to enjoin the publication of libel” (Rosenberg, 290 AD2d at 239; see also Giffuni v Feingold, 299 AD2d 265, 266 [1st Dept 2002]; cf. Dennis v Napoli, 148 AD3d 446 [1st Dept 2017] [affirming preliminary injunction against sending unsolicited defamatory communications about the plaintiff, who was not a public figure, directly to her colleagues, friends and family]). Accordingly, as plaintiff appears to recognize, the preliminary injunction can be affirmed only if it enjoins a “true threat” against plaintiff (Virginia v Black, 538 US at 359 [internal quotation marks omitted]). We find, however, that the speech at issue, as offensive as it is, cannot reasonably be construed as truly threatening or inciting violence against plaintiff. Rather, the lynching imagery at issue was plainly intended to draw a grotesque analogy between lynching and FINRA’s banning of Harris, ]who is an African American (and is identified as such in the posts)[FN2]. While this analogy is incendiary and highly inappropriate, plaintiff has not established that any reasonable viewer would have understood the posts as threatening or calling for violence against him. Moreover, even if the posts could reasonably be construed as advocating unlawful conduct, plaintiff has not established that any “such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action” (Brandenburg v Ohio, 395 US 444, 447 [1969]).

Regardless of the subject injunction’s constitutionality, defendants were not free to disobey an order within the jurisdiction of the issuing court, and not void on its face, until they had obtained judicial relief from it [FN3]. Further, contrary to defendants’ contention, the injunction, at least as modified by this Court’s partial stay, was not impermissibly vague or ambiguous. Moreover, we are satisfied that, assuming that defendants controlled the website, a substantial part of the posted material forming the basis for the contempt finding violated the terms of the injunction as modified by the partial stay. However, it cannot be determined on the present record whether defendants exercised control and authority over the website, an issue that we find to have been sufficiently preserved by defendants. Accordingly, we vacate the contempt adjudication and direct that, on remand, an evidentiary hearing be held to determine whether defendants had control of the website at the times of the alleged contemptuous conduct.

Lueker v Lueker, 2018 NY Slip Op 07421 [2d Dept. 2018]

The order appealed from, holding the father in contempt for failing to comply with the July 2013 order by not posting a bond, is not subject to reversal based on this Court’s modification of the July 2013 order by deleting the requirement that the plaintiff post a bond, as “[o]bedience to a lawful order of the court is required even if the order is thereafter held erroneous or improvidently made or granted by the court under misapprehension or mistake” (Department of Hous. Preserv. & Dev. of City of New York v Mill Riv. Realty, 169 AD2d 665, 670, affd 82 NY2d 794 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Matter of Saffra v Rockwood Park Jewish Ctr., 249 AD2d 480). Moreover, this Court’s modification of the July 2013 order “does not render the instant appeal academic, since a party may be adjudicated in contempt of a court mandate which is later overturned on appeal” (Matter of Village of Chestnut Ridge v Town of Ramapo, 99 AD3d 928, 930).

Nevertheless, we reverse the order appealed from, since, in response to the defendant’s showing that she was prejudiced by the plaintiff’s knowing disobedience of a lawful order of the court which expressed an unequivocal mandate, the plaintiff proffered credible evidence of his inability to obtain the required bond. Inability to comply with an order is a defense to both civil and criminal contempt (see El-Dehdan v El-Dehdan, 26 NY3d 19, 35; Matter of Powers v Powers, 86 NY2d 63, 70; Gomes v Gomes, 106 AD3d 868, 869; Yeager v Yaeger, 38 AD3d 534; Ferraro v Ferraro, 272 AD2d 510, 512).

Matter of Palmitesta v Palmitesta, 2018 NY Slip Op 07731 [2d Dept. 2018]

Here, at the time the father’s motion was decided, the mother was complying with the parties’ stipulation. Thus, although the mother may have failed to comply with the stipulation in the past, at the time the father’s motion was decided, a civil contempt finding no longer could have served its intended purpose of compelling obedience to the parties’ stipulation. The only purpose of a civil contempt sanction at that point would have been to punish the mother, but punishment is the purpose of criminal contempt, not civil contempt. Thus, we agree with the Family Court’s determination, in effect, denying the father’s motion (see id. at 239; Matter of Peer, 50 AD3d 1511, 1512; Carr v Decesare, 280 AD2d 852, 853).

3212(f)

Rodriguez v Architron Envtl. Servs., Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 07955 [1st Dept. 2018]

The summary judgment motion was premature and the motion court properly denied it on that basis. No discovery had been conducted before Architron moved for summary judgment; thus, plaintiff was not given a chance to depose two parties — defendants in a related action that has now been consolidated with this one — who might have knowledge concerning the relevant issues in this action (see Gonzalez v Vincent James Mgt. Co., Inc. , 306 AD2d 226 [1st Dept 2003]; La v New York Infirmary/Beekman Downtown Hosp. , 214 AD2d 425 [1st Dept 1995]).

Moreover, even if the documents that Architron submitted on its motion had sufficed to make a prima facie showing that it had completed its work at the site before plaintiff’s alleged accident, plaintiff nonetheless had an acceptable excuse for not offering any countervailing facts to oppose the motion — namely, the lack of any opportunity to conduct discovery (see Gonzalez , 306 AD2d at 226).

Haxhijaj v Ferrer, 2018 NY Slip Op 07416 [2d Dept. 2018]

In a personal injury action, a party should generally be afforded a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery prior to the determination of a motion for summary judgment (see CPLR 3212[f]; Brea v Salvatore, 130 AD3d 956Malester v Rampil, 118 AD3d 855, 856). Here, little discovery has taken place, and depositions of the parties have not yet occurred. Moreover, the defendant submitted evidence suggesting that further discovery might lead to relevant evidence pertaining to the circumstances of the accident (see Hawana v Carbuccia, 164 AD3d 563Worley v Safemove Rental, 120 AD3d 667, 668). Accordingly, we will not disturb the Supreme Court’s determination to deny the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability without prejudice to renew (see Takhalov v Rottenberg, 128 AD3d 678Amico v Melville Volunteer Fire Co., Inc., 39 AD3d 784, 785).