3001: Declaratory Judgment

CPLR § 3001 Declaratory Judgment

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Big Four LLC v Bond St. Lofts Condominium, 2012 NY Slip Op 02421 1st Dept., 2012)

In August 2010, plaintiff moved for an order, pursuant to CPLR 3126(3), striking defendant's pleading, or, alternatively, to compel production of requested information under CPLR 3124.
By notice of cross motion, defendant moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, and for summary judgment on its counterclaim for legal fees. The court granted defendant's cross motion for summary judgment, dismissing the declaratory judgment claim on the ground that "no justiciable controversy has been presented." It dismissed the breach of contract claim on the ground that plaintiff asked for an "advisory opinion" from the board, and the board provided such opinion. The court also initially granted summary judgment to defendant on its counterclaim for legal fees, but later denied it when plaintiff moved for reargument. This appeal followed.

Supreme Court's dismissal of the first cause of action on the ground that a declaratory judgment would be merely "advisory" was an improvident exercise of its discretion. "[W]hen a party contemplates taking certain action a genuine dispute may arise before any breach or violation has occurred" (New York Pub. Interest Research Group v Carey, 42 NY2d 527, 530 [1977]). Defense counsel's November 23, 2009 letter and defendant's subsequent expression of its intent, constituted "past conduct" creating a genuine dispute for which a declaration would have had an "immediate and practical effect of influencing [the parties'] conduct" (id. at 531; see M & A Oasis v MTM Assoc., 307 AD2d 872 [2003]).

We, however, affirm the dismissal of the complaint's first cause of action for a declaratory judgment as to whether plaintiff may lease to nonparty 7-Eleven, on the ground that plaintiff conceded below that 7-Eleven is no longer interested in such a lease. Accordingly, the dispute is moot, and there is no longer a "justiciable controversy" within the meaning of CPLR 3001 (see Matter of Ideal Mut. Ins. Co., 174 AD2d 420 [1991]). Furthermore, there is no basis to find that the exception for cases where the issue presented "is likely to recur, typically evades review, and raises a substantial and novel question" is applicable (Zuckerman v Goldstein, 78 AD3d 412 [2010]) lv denied 17 NY3d 779 [2011]).

Similarly, the second cause of action – asserting a bad faith breach of contract by defendant – was properly dismissed. The defendant condominium established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that the actions it took by objecting to the proposed intended use of the commercial space by 7-Eleven were "taken in good faith and in the exercise of honest judgment in the lawful and legitimate furtherance of corporate purposes" (Matter of Levandusky v One Fifth Ave. Apt. Corp., 75 NY2d 530, 537—538 [1990] [internal quotations omitted]). Aside from some conclusory, unsupported and self-serving conjecture, plaintiff has failed to raise any triable issues regarding defendant's alleged bad faith in objecting to 7-Eleven's use of the commercial space.

BLT Steak, LLC v 57th St. Dorchester, Inc.,2012 NY Slip Op 02159 (1st Dept., 2012)

Defendant's withdrawal of the notice to cure rendered moot that branch of plaintiff's motion for declaratory relief as to the validity of the notice to cure, as there was no longer any controversy with respect to the notice (see CPLR 3001). Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief was also rendered moot by the withdrawal of the notice, because there was no longer any threat that plaintiff's leasehold would be terminated as a result of its alleged breach of the lease (see Mannis v Jillandrea Realty Co., 94 AD2d 676, 677 [1983]).

Plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment declaring that it did not breach the parties' lease; the conflicting expert affidavits have raised issues of fact with respect to the damage to the steel and slab underlying plaintiff's kitchen. Contrary to plaintiff's contention, defendant's withdrawal of the notice to cure does not constitute an "adjudication on the merits," as it is undisputed that defendant never filed an action based on the allegations in the notice in a court of any state or the United States (CPLR 3217[c]).

The court properly dismissed plaintiff's third cause of action, for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and/or breach of contract. The "American rule" precludes plaintiff from recovering its attorney's fees as damages in the event it prevails on its cause of action, and plaintiff has failed to show that any exception is applicable (see Gotham Partners, L.P. v High Riv. Ltd. Partnership, 76 AD3d 203, 204 [2010], lv denied 17 NY3d 713 [2011]). Moreover, plaintiff has failed to plead any damages other than attorney's fees (see Gordon v Dino De Laurentiis Corp., 141 AD2d 435, 436 [1988]).

CPLR § 3130

CPLR § 3130 Use of interrogatories

1. Except as otherwise provided herein, after commencement of an action, any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories. Except in a matrimonial action, a party may not serve written interrogatories on another party and also demand a bill of particulars of the same party pursuant to section 3041. In the case of an action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property or wrongful death predicated solely on a cause or causes of action for negligence, a party shall not be permitted to serve interrogatories on and conduct a deposition of the same party pursuant to rule 3107 without leave of court.

Nasca v D.M.R. Indus., Inc., 2010 NY Slip Op 01462 (App. Div., 2nd, 2010)

The Supreme Court properly denied that branch of the plaintiff's motion which was to compel the defendant to comply with his demand for disclosure of its tax returns for the year 2000. The plaintiff failed to show that the information contained in the defendant's tax returns was indispensable to his claim and could not be obtained from other sources (see Pugliese v Mondello, 57 AD3d 637, 639-640; Benfeld v Fleming Props., LLC, 44 AD3d 599, 600).

Since the plaintiff had already served the defendant with a demand for a bill of particulars, CPLR 3130(1) precluded the plaintiff from serving the defendant with a set of interrogatories (see Hyman & Gilbert v Greenstein, 138 AD2d 678, 681). Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly denied that branch of the plaintiff's motion which was to compel the defendant to respond to those interrogatories, and properly granted that branch of the defendant's cross motion which was for a protective order with regard to those interrogatories.