Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

by
There was personal jurisdiction over Defendant - a winery located in Pontevedra, Spain - under New York’s long-arm jurisdiction statute and, consequently, subject matter jurisdiction over the parties’ dispute under N.Y. Bus. Corp. Law 1314(b)(4). Supreme Court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant was not subject to personal jurisdiction under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 302(a)(1) of New York’s long-arm jurisdiction statute. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the exercise of long-arm jurisdiction over Defendant comported with federal due process because Defendant availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in New York by promoting its wine in the state, soliciting a distributor in the state, and selling wine to that New York-based distributor. View "D&R Global Selections, S.L. v Bodega Olegario Falcon Pineiro" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner’s son was hit by a car while attempting to cross an intersection. Petitioner timely served notices of claim on the State, town, and county. Five months after the statutory period for serving a notice of claim had expired, Petitioner served a notice of claim on the School District, alleging that the School District’s sign at the corner of the intersection where Petitioner’s son was struck obstructed the view of pedestrians and drivers and created a dangerous and hazardous condition. Petitioner simultaneously filed an order to show cause for leave to serve a late notice of claim, arguing that he had a reasonable excuse for the late notice. Supreme Court determined that Petitioner should not be permitted to serve the late notice of claim. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the lower courts abused their discretion as a matter of law when, in the absence of any record evidence to support such determination, the courts determined that the School District would be substantially prejudiced in its defense by a late notice of claim; and (2) the lower court improperly placed the burden of proving substantial prejudice solely on Petitioner. View "Newcomb v. Middle Country Central School District" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs sued Defendants in a New York state court for concealing ill-gotten money from a scheme orchestrated by three of Plaintiff’s employees. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendants did not purposefully avail themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in New York. Plaintiffs appealed, alleging that the defendant-bank’s repeated use of New York correspondent accounts to receive and transfer millions of dollars in illicit funds constituted the transaction of business substantially related to their claims against Defendants sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction. Defendants argued in response that personal jurisdiction cannot depend on third party conduct and requires purposeful availment by Defendants that was lacking in this case. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Defendants’ use of the correspondent bank accounts was purposeful, that there was an articulable nexus between the business transaction and the claim asserted, and that the maintenance of suit in New York does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. View "Rushaid v. Pictet & Cie" on Justia Law

by
The case stemmed from a dispute over property subject to the terms of a will executed by a now-deceased member of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation (the Nation). Judge Robert Noonan, a county court and surrogate’s court judge, presided over the proceedings seeking to probate the will in the surrogate’s court. The Nation commenced a N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding in the Appellate Division seeking to prohibit the judge or any future surrogate in the estate proceeding from exercising jurisdiction over the case. The Appellate Division dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the proceeding must originate in Supreme Court. At issue on appeal was whether the proceeding must originate in Supreme Court because Judge Noonan’s position as Surrogate was not one listed in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 506(b)(1), which limits article 78 proceedings that may be commenced in the Appellate Division to those against County Court Judges and Supreme Court Justices, or whether Judge Noonan’s position as a county court judge required that the proceeding be commenced in the Appellate Division. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, where Judge Noonan was acting as Surrogate with respect to the probate of the will, the Nation’s suit challenging those actions should have been brought in Supreme Court. View "Tonawanda Seneca Nation v. Noonan" on Justia Law

by
The owner commenced tax certiorari proceedings against the City of Rye, challenging assessments for tax years 2002-2010. for Lot 9 and Lot 10. Lot 10 is within the Rye City School District. Lot 9, which the owner believed to be within that district, actually lies within Rye Neck Union School District. Under RPTL 708, within 10 days of service of the notice and petition on a municipality in a tax certiorari proceeding, a petitioner must mail a copy of those documents to the superintendent of schools of any district within which the assessed property is located. The owner did not comply with that requirements before reaching an agreement with the City. Before that tentative settlement was finalized, the owner recognized its error, notified the Rye District, mailed the petition and notice, and sought the Rye District's consent to settle. The District instead intervened. The court dismissed the petitions with prejudice for failure to comply with RPTL 708. The Appellate Division clarified that dismissal pertained to Lot 9, noting that the action may not be recommenced under CPLR 205(a). The Court of Appeals affirmed. A petitioner who ignores the RPTL 708 mailing requirements and denies a school district the opportunity to economically address a tax certiorari proceeding is not permitted to recommence a proceeding dismissed based upon such noncompliance; to do so would undermine the goals that prompted amendments to RPTL 708. View "Westchester Joint Water Works v Assessor of City of Rye" on Justia Law

by
Ambac guaranteed payments on residential mortgage-backed securities issued by Countrywide. When those securities failed during the financial crisis, Ambac sued, alleging fraud. Ambac named Bank of America (BoA) as a defendant, based on its merger with Countrywide. Discovery ensued, and in 2012, Ambac challenged BoA's withholding of approximately 400 communications between BoA and Countrywide after the signing of the merger plan in January 2008 but before its closing in July. BoA claimed they were protected by the attorney-client privilege because they pertained to legal issues the companies needed to resolve jointly in anticipation of the closing. Although the parties were represented by separate counsel, the merger agreement directed them to share privileged information and purported to protect the information from outside disclosure. A Referee concluded that the exchange of privileged communications waives the attorney-client privilege and that the communications would be entitled to protection only if BoA could establish an exception, such as the common interest doctrine, which permits limited disclosure of confidential communications to parties who share a common legal (as opposed to business or commercial) interest in pending or reasonably anticipated litigation. The court held that the doctrine applies only if there is "reasonable anticipation of litigation." The Appellate Division reversed. The New York Court of Appeals reversed, reinstating the trial court order holding that privilege did not apply because the communication did not relate to pending or anticipated litigation. View "Ambac Assur. Corp. v Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff was born prematurely by emergency cesarean section at New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. (HHC) in June 2005. He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and discharged in stable condition in August 2005. In January 2007, more than 90 days after the claim arose, without first obtaining leave of court as required by General Municipal Law 50-e (5), plaintiff served a notice of claim against HHC alleging negligence and malpractice arising out of failure to properly treat and manage his mother's prenatal care and failure to obtain informed consent with regard to plaintiff's care. The notice claimed that plaintiff sustained brain damage, cognitive defects, developmental, speech and psychomotor delays, fetal and respiratory distress and seizure disorder. Plaintiff filed suit in August 2008, but waited until December 2010, to seek permission to serve late notice of claim. The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal, finding unreasonable an excuse that counsel waited because he needed to receive medical records from HHC. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish "that the medical records put HHC on notice that the alleged malpractice would subsequently give rise to brain damage as a result of birth trauma and hypoxia," The New York Court of Appeals affirmed. Contrary to plaintiff's argument, the medical records must do more than "suggest" that an injury occurred as a result of malpractice in order for the medical provider to have actual knowledge of essential facts. View "Wally G. v NY City Health & Hosps. Corp." on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of attempted murder and two counts of assault in the first degree. Defendant, who was fifteen years old at the time of the crime, challenged the judgment of conviction on direct appeal, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by withholding information from an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Defendant received meaningful and effective representation; and (2) Defendant failed to demonstrate the absence of strategic or other legitimate explanations for counsel’s alleged shortcomings. View "People v. Henderson" on Justia Law

by
In IRB-Brasil Resseguros, S.A. v. Inepar Invs., S.A., the Court of Appeals held that, where parties include a New York choice-of-law clause in a contract, such a provision demonstrates the parties’ intent that courts not conduct a conflict-of-laws analysis. In the instant case, Plaintiff was a New York not-for-profit corporation that administered a retirement plan and a death benefit plan. Decedent was enrolled in both plans. Decedent named Appellants as beneficiaries. Both plans stated that they shall be governed by and construed in accordance with New York law. After Decedent died, a Colorado court admitted his will to probate. Plaintiff was unsure to whom the plan benefits should be paid after Decedent’s death and commenced a federal interpleader action against Decedent’s Estate, the personal representative (PR) of the Estate, and Appellants. A federal district court directed Plaintiff to pay the disputed funds to the PR, concluding that Colorado’s revocation law terminated any claims to the plans by Appellants. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals certified questions to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals answered by extending the holding in IRB to contracts that do not fall under Gen. Oblig. Law 5-1401 and clarifying that this rule obviates the application and both common-law and conflict-of-laws principles and statutory choice-of-law directives, unless the parties expressly indicate otherwise. View "Ministers & Missionaries Benefit Bd. v. Snow" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners, including individual residents of the Village of Painted Post, commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding against the Village and others (collectively, Respondents), asserting that the Village failed to comply with the strict procedural mandates of the State Environmental Quality Review Act by entering into a bulk water sale agreement with a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co. providing for the sale of 314 million gallons of water from the village water system and by approving a lease agreement with a railroad for the construction of a water transloading facility. Respondents moved to dismiss the petition, asserting that Petitioners lacked standing and failed to state a cause of action. Supreme Court denied Respondents’ motion to dismiss for lack of standing after finding that one of the individual petitions had standing. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the petition on the ground that the individual petitioner lacked standing. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division, in concluding that the individual petitioner at issue lacked standing, applied an overly restrictive analysis of the requirement to show harm “different from that of the public at large.” View "Sierra Club v. Village of Painted Post" on Justia Law