Procedural cornucopia and 5015

CPLR R. 5015

CPLR § 5501

Pollak v Moore, 2011 NY Slip Op 05351 (1st Dept. 2011)

Plaintiff's appeal from the judgment does not bring up for review an order of the motion court, entered November 20, 2009 (Richard B. Lowe, III, J.), which was marked "final disposition" and, in fact, disposed of all of plaintiff's claims, leaving nothing further in the action that would require non-ministerial judicial action (see CPLR 5015[a][1]; Burke v Crosson, 85 NY2d 10 [1995]). While the judgment explicitly referred to the November 20, 2009 order, and such order "affected" the judgment, the November 20, 2009 order did not meet the further criterion that the underlying order sought to be reviewed on appeal from the judgment be "non-final" (see CPLR 5501[a][1]). Plaintiff abandoned his appeal from the November 20, 2009 order, and cannot revive that appeal by the expedient of effecting a ministerial entry of judgment upon the final order after expiration of the time to perfect the initial appeal. 

Assuming we were able to reach plaintiff's appellate arguments on the merits, we would find them unavailing. Plaintiff's initial argument that Justice Lowe's November 20, 2009 order was void as it was dated approximately two weeks after Justice Lowe had transferred the action to another IAS part, and such transfer was based on his recusing himself from the action, is unsupported by the record. A review of the relevant transfer orders indicates that the transfer of the action to Justice Walter Tolub, who was handling a related foreclosure proceeding, was done for judicial economy purposes. Moreover, it is noted that prior to the transfer, defendants' motion to dismiss was fully submitted and orally argued before Justice Lowe, and Justice Lowe informed the parties that he would render a decision on the motion (see generally Hudson View II Assoc. v Miller, 282 AD2d 345 [2001], lv dismissed 96 NY2d 937 [2001]; Zelman v Lipsig, 178 AD2d 298 [1991]). Plaintiff offers no evidence to indicate bias or impropriety in the rendering of the November 20, 2009 order (see generally Hudson View II Assoc., 282 AD2d 345). We find plaintiff's related due process arguments unavailing.

We find that plaintiff's breach of contract claim, which was predicated upon a purported agreement by defendants to sell plaintiff a portion of a lot (with improvements thereon) pending formal division of the lot on the New York City tax map, to be barred by the statute of frauds. The documentary evidence established that the purported agreement was not signed by all the parties to be charged (see General Obligations Law § 5-703[2]; Naldi v Grunberg, 80 AD3d 1 [2010], lv denied __ NY3d __, 2011 NY Slip Op 71494 [2011]), the sale terms were modified by plaintiff, and the parties had an opportunity to execute plaintiff's marked-up contract of sale, but did not elect to execute such agreement. To the extent plaintiff relies on other writings to argue that they demonstrate the parties to be charged agreed to the sale of a portion of a lot to plaintiff (see generally WWP Group USA v Interpublic Group of Cos., 228 AD2d 296 [1996]), we find that the writings do no more than reflect interest of the parties to be charged in effecting a sale of the portion of the property to plaintiff upon appropriate terms.Plaintiff's alternative claims sounding in breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation were duplicative of his breach of contract claims and, as such, properly dismissed (see J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills v Reeves Bros., 243 AD2d 422 [1997]; cf. Deerfield Communications Corp. v Chesebrough-Ponds, Inc., 68 NY2d 954 [1986]). Plaintiff's claim for unjust enrichment was unsupported by evidence that defendants, whose interest in the property at stake was foreclosed against, were enriched at plaintiff's expense (see generally Paramount Film Distrib. Corp. v State of New York, 30 NY2d 415 (1972), cert denied 414 US 829 [1973]; Weiner v Lazard Freres & Co., 241 AD2d 114, 119-120 [1998]).

Insofar as plaintiff requested leave to serve a second amended complaint, denial of such relief was a proper exercise of discretion as plaintiff failed to annex a copy of a proposed second amended pleading to his motion papers, and he did not otherwise offer an affidavit of merit or any "new" facts as would overcome the legal defects in his prior two complaints (see generally Jebran v LaSalle Bus. Credit, LLC, 33 AD3d 424 [2006]; Gonik v Israel Discount Bank of N.Y., 80 AD3d 437, 438-439 [2011]).

Kohn v Kohn, 2011 NY Slip Op 06095 (2nd Dept., 2011)

To vacate her default in opposing the plaintiff's motion, the defendant was required to demonstrate both a reasonable excuse for her default and a potentially meritorious opposition (see Remote Meter Tech. of NY, Inc. v Aris Realty Corp., 83 AD3d 1030; Bazoyah v Herschitz, 79 AD3d 1081). A motion to vacate a default is addressed to the sound discretion of the Supreme Court (see Dimitriadis v Visiting Nurse Serv. of N.Y., 84 AD3d 1150). The Supreme Court has the discretion to accept law office failure as a reasonable excuse (see CPLR 2005), where the claim of law office failure is supported by a "detailed and credible" explanation of the default (see Remote Meter Tech. of N.Y., Inc. v Aris Realty Corp., 83 AD3d 1030; Winthrop Univ. Hosp. v Metropolitan Suburban Bus Auth., 78 AD3d 685, 686). Here, the defendant's claim of law office failure was supported by a "detailed and credible" explanation of the default, and the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in accepting that explanation. Moreover, the defendant demonstrated the existence of a potentially meritorious opposition to the plaintiff's motion.

Disclosure, lots of it

CPLR § 3126 Penalties for refusal to comply with order or to disclose

CPLR § 4504. Physician, dentist, podiatrist, chiropractor and nurse

CPLR R. 3120 Discovery and production of documents and things for inspection, testing, copying or photographing

CPLR § 3101 Scope of disclosure

CPLR R. 3124 Failure to disclose; motion to compel disclosure

22 NYCRR 202.21 Note of issue and certificate of readiness

Congel v Malfitano, 2011 NY Slip Op 04406 (App. Div., 2nd 2011)

Contrary to the defendant's contentions, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying that branch of his cross motion which was for leave to amend his answer to assert counterclaims pursuant to Partnership Law §§ 73 and 74. Although leave to amend should be freely given in the absence of prejudice or surprise to the opposing party (see CPLR 3025[b]), the motion should be denied where the proposed amendment is palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit (see Brooks v Robinson, 56 AD3d 406, 407; Scofield v DeGroodt, 54 AD3d 1017, 1018; Lucido v Mancuso, 49 AD3d 220, 227). Here, the defendant's proposed amended counterclaims were patently devoid of merit.

CPLR 3101(a) provides for, inter alia, "full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action." Although the phrase "material and necessary" must be "interpreted liberally" in favor of disclosure so long as the information sought meets the test of "usefulness and reason" (Allen v Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21 NY2d 403, 406; see Scalone v Phelps Mem. Hosp. Ctr., 184 AD2d 65, 69-70), a party does not have the right to uncontrolled and unfettered disclosure (see Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, Inc. v Sharf, 59 AD3d 408, 410; Gilman & Ciocia, Inc. v Walsh, 45 AD3d 531, 531). Further, the Supreme Court has broad discretion over the supervision of disclosure, and its determination will not be disturbed absent an improvident exercise of discretion (see Spodek v Neiss, 70 AD3d 810, 810; Reilly Green Mtn. Platform Tennis v Cortese, 59 AD3d 694, 695; Cabellero v City of New York, 48 AD3d 727, 728).

On the defendant's prior appeal, this Court remitted the matter to the Supreme Court, Dutchess County, for, inter alia, further proceedings on the issue of damages caused to the plaintiffs by the defendant's wrongful dissolution of the Poughkeepsie Galleria Company Partnership, as well as a determination of the value of the defendant's interest in that partnership at the time of the wrongful dissolution (see Congel v Malfitano, 61 AD3d 810; Partnership Law § 69[2][c][II]). Given that the remaining issues to be resolved in this matter are narrow (see Partnership Law § 69[2][c][II]), the Supreme Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion in limiting the scope of discovery and providing for an expedited discovery schedule.

Thompson v Dallas BBQ, 2011 NY Slip Op 04451 (App. Div., 2nd 2011)

Pursuant to CPLR 3126, "[a] court may strike an answer as a sanction if a defendant refuses to obey an order for disclosure or willfully fails to disclose information which the court finds ought to have been disclosed'" (Mazza v Seneca, 72 AD3d 754, 754, quoting CPLR 3126). The nature and degree of the penalty to be imposed pursuant to CPLR 3126 lies within the sound discretion of the trial court (see CPLR 3126[3]; Kihl v Pfeffer, 94 NY2d 118, 122-123; Bernal v Singh, 72 AD3d 716). The drastic remedy of striking a pleading is not appropriate absent a clear showing that the failure to comply with discovery demands is willful and contumacious (see CPLR 3126[3]; Kyung Soo Kim v Goldmine Realty, Inc., 73 AD3d 709; Moray v City of Yonkers, 72 AD3d 766).

Here, there was no such clear showing that the defendants' conduct was willful and contumacious (see Dank v Sears Holding Mgt. Corp., 69 AD3d 557). Accordingly, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying the plaintiff's motion to strike the defendants' answer.

Gille v Long Beach City School Dist., 2011 NY Slip Op 04202 (App. Div., 2nd 2011)

While it is unclear whether the school district negligently lost or intentionally destroyed key evidence (see Denoyelles v Gallagher, 40 AD3d 1027; Baglio v St. John's Queens Hosp., 303 AD2d 341, 342-343), it is uncontested that the school district is unable to locate the window shade, the very instrumentality giving rise to the infant plaintiff's injuries. However, because the determination of spoliation sanctions is within the broad discretion of the trial court (see Iamiceli v General Motors Corp., 51 AD3d 635; Barnes v Paulin, 52 AD3d 754; Dennis v City of New York, 18 AD3d 599), the matter must be remitted to the Supreme Court, Nassau County, for its determination of the cross motion on the merits (see American Fed. of School Adm'rs, AFL-CIO v Council of Adm'rs & Supervisors, 266 AD2d 417, 418; Polera Bldg. Corp. v New York School Constr. Auth., 262 AD2d 295).

Lopez v Retail Prop. Trust, 2011 NY Slip Op 04008 (App. Div., 2nd 2011)

The Supreme Court, in its discretion, may grant permission to conduct additional discovery after the filing of a note of issue and certificate of readiness where the moving party demonstrates that "unusual or unanticipated circumstances" developed subsequent to the filing requiring additional pretrial proceedings to prevent substantial prejudice (22 NYCRR 202.21[d]; see Wigand v Modlin, 82 AD3d 1213; Owen v Lester, 79 AD3d 992; Audiovox Corp. v Benyamini, 265 AD2d 135, 140). The compliance conference order dated February 17, 2010, warning the plaintiff that failure to file a note of issue within 90 days would result in dismissal of the action, did not mandate that all discovery be complete prior to the filing of the note of issue. Even though the defendant Kone, Inc. (hereinafter the defendant), was impeding discovery, the plaintiff filed a conditional note of issue as directed by the compliance conference order. It was not until after the filing of the conditional note of issue that the defendant moved for a protective order with respect to the plaintiff's discovery requests, on the ground that they were untimely. Under these circumstances, the plaintiff's cross motion to compel the defendant to comply with outstanding discovery should have been granted (see Karakostas v Avis Rent A Car Sys., 306 AD2d 381, 382; Schmitt v Carl Meyer's Hof, Inc., 86 AD2d 985).

Olkovetsy v Friedwald Ctr. for Rehabilitation & Nursing, LLC, 2011 NY Slip Op 04015 (App. Div. 2nd 2011)

Pursuant to CPLR 4504(a), information obtained by, among others, professional nursing personnel in attending to a patient in a professional capacity and "which [is] necessary to enable him [or her] to act in that capacity" is privileged. As a general rule, disclosure of the name and address of a nonparty patient who may have been a witness to an alleged act of negligence or malpractice does not violate the patient's privilege of confidentiality of treatment (see Rabinowitz v St. John's Episcopal Hosp., 24 AD3d 530; Hirsch v Catholic Med. Ctr. of Brooklyn & Queens, 91 AD2d 1033, 1034; see also Matter of Grand Jury Investigation in N.Y. County, 98 NY2d 525, 530-531), provided that the requesting party "is not seeking to identify the patient by reference to the medical treatment he [or she] received" (Matter of Seymour, 288 AD2d 894, 894).

Contrary to the defendants' contention, in light of the broad range of services provided in a nursing home, the information requested by the plaintiff did not fall within the ambit of CPLR 4504(a) (see generally Rabinowitz v St. John's Episcopal Hosp., 24 AD3d 530; cf. Gunn v Sound Shore Med. Ctr. of Westchester, 5 AD3d 435, 437). Additionally, the information demanded by the plaintiff was necessary to the prosecution of the action and, as limited by the Supreme Court to the period from January 1, 2005, through February 28, 2005, and to only the residents of the decedent's particular unit of residency, the demand was not overly broad or unduly burdensome (see Grant v PALJR, LLC, 64 AD3d 750, 751).

Trueforge Global Mach. Corp. v Viraj Group., 2011 NY Slip Op 04040 (App. Div., 2nd 2011)

The Supreme Court properly denied the defendants' cross motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint pursuant to General Obligations Law § 5-701(a)(10). "[I]n a contract action[,] a memorandum sufficient to meet the requirements of the Statute of Frauds must contain expressly or by reasonable implication all the material terms of the agreement, including the rate of compensation if there has been agreement on that matter" (Morris Cohon & Co. v Russell, 23 NY2d 569, 575; see Intercontinental Planning v Daystrom, Inc., 24 NY2d 372, 378-379). "If an agreement is not reasonably certain in its material terms, there can be no legally enforceable contract" (Cobble Hill Nursing Home v Henry & Warren Corp., 74 NY2d 475, 482, cert denied 498 US 816; see Joseph Martin, Jr., Delicatessen v Schumacher, 52 NY2d 105, 109). Thus, "a mere agreement to agree, in which a material term is left for future negotiations, is unenforceable" (Joseph Martin, Jr., Delicatessen v Schumacher, 52 NY2d at 109; see 2004 McDonald Ave. Realty, LLC v 2004 McDonald Ave. Corp., 50 AD3d 1021; Andor Group v Benninghoff, 219 AD2d 573). Further, while General Obligations Law § 5-701(a)(10) applies to contracts implied in law to pay reasonable compensation (see Snyder v Bronfman, 13 NY3d 504), in an action to recover reasonable compensation, "a sufficient memorandum need only evidence the fact of plaintiff's employment by defendant to render the alleged services" (Morris Cohon & Co. v Russell, 23 NY2d at 575-576)."The obligation of the defendant to pay reasonable compensation for the services is then implied" (id. at 576). Contrary to the defendants' contention, they failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law based on the statute of frauds, as certain e-mail correspondence (see General Obligations Law § 5-701[b][4]; Newmark & Co. Real Estate Inc. v 2615 E. 17 St. Realty LLC, 80 AD3d 476, 477; see also Intercontinental Planning v Daystrom, Inc., 24 NY2d at 379; Aloisi v Coin Phones, 157 AD2d 688) was sufficient to set forth an objective standard for determining the compensation to be paid to the plaintiff as a finder's fee, since it was tied to an extrinsic event, i.e., it was expressed as a percentage of the price paid by the defendants for the located acquisition opportunity, thus rendering the terms definite and enforceable (see Tonkery v Martina, 78 NY2d 893; Novello v 215 Rockaway, LLC, 70 AD3d 909; Edge Mgt. Corp. v Crossborder Exch. Corp., 304 AD2d 422; cf. MP Innovations, Inc. v Atlantic Horizon Intl., Inc., 72 AD3d 571).

Furthermore, the Supreme Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion in granting, upon reargument, the plaintiff's motion to compel a deposition of nonparty Neeraj Kochhar. "[A] corporation has the right in the first instance to determine which of its representatives will appear for an examination before trial" (Barone v Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co., 260 AD2d 417, 417-418; see Aronson v Im, 81 AD3d 577, 577; Nunez v Chase Manhattan Bank, 71 AD3d 967; Mercado v Alexander, 227 AD2d 391). The moving party that is seeking additional depositions has the burden of demonstrating "(1) that the representatives already deposed had insufficient knowledge, or were otherwise inadequate, and (2) there is a substantial likelihood that the persons sought for depositions possess information which is material and necessary to the prosecution of the case" (Zollner v City of New York, 204 AD2d 626, 627; see Thristino v County of Suffolk, 78 AD3d 927; Spohn-Konen v Town of Brookhaven, 74 AD3d 1049; Seattle Pac. Indus., Inc. v Golden Val. Realty Assoc., 54 AD3d 930, 932-933; Nazario v City of New York, 27 AD3d 439; Barone v Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co., 260 AD2d at 418). Here, the plaintiff satisfied this burden by demonstrating that the representative produced by the defendants for deposition did not have sufficient knowledge of the events giving rise to the complaint (see Nunez v Chase Manhattan Bank, 71 AD3d 967), and that there was a substantial likelihood that Neeraj Kochhar possessed information which was material and necessary to the issue of whether the plaintiff was entitled to payment of a finder's fee (see Nazario v City of New York, 27 AD3d 439; cf. Seattle Pac. Indus., Inc. v Golden Val. Realty Assoc., 54 AD3d at 932-933).


Fernandez v City of New York, 2011 NY Slip Op 04111 (App. Div., 1st 2011)

Plaintiff has waived her claim that defendants' failure to produce "legible" photographs of the underside of the desk after the accident required an adverse inference that such photographs would have provided notice. The record shows that she was aware of the photographs yet filed a note of issue certifying that discovery was complete (see Escourse v City of New York, 27 AD3d 319 [2006]). In any event, the photographs would not have been probative as to notice, since the track was not visible until after the drawer fell.