Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff Anthony Oddo was assaulted by Sean Velentzas, one of the discharged residents of Defendant Queens Village Committee for Mental Health for Jamaica Community Adolescent Program, Inc., a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility. Plaintiff, the boyfriend of Velentzas’s mother, commenced this negligence action against Defendant, asserting that his injuries were solely the result of Defendant negligently releasing Velentzas. Defendant moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, arguing that it owed no duty to Plaintiff. Supreme Court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant owed a duty of care to Plaintiff. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Defendant owed no duty of care to Plaintiff or to the public in general because Defendant discharged Velentzas from the program and thus lacked control over him at the time of the incident. View "Oddo v. Queens Village Committee for Mental Health for Jamaica Community Adolescent Program, Inc." on Justia Law
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Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by a worker at a facility owned by Suffolk County where Plaintiff took adult education classes. The worker, Larry Smith, had been referred for a potential possession with the lessee of the facility through the County’s “welfare to work” program. Plaintiff brought this action against the County, Smith, and others to recover damages for personal injuries. The County moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it did not owe Plaintiff a duty of care and, in any event, was entitled to absolute governmental immunity for discretionary acts. Supreme Court denied the County’s motion. The Appellate Division reversed and granted summary judgment for the County on the ground of governmental immunity. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly granted to the County because the County’s referral of Smith was within the County’s governmental capacity and the County did not assume a special duty to Plaintiff. View "Tara N.P. v. Western Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services" on Justia Law
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Defendant was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and other offenses. The jury convicted Defendant of two counts of DWI. Appellate Term reversed and remitted for a new trial on those counts, concluding that Defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were violated because the police officer who testified at trial regarding Defendant’s breath test did not personally administer the test, although he did directly observe the test. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that no Confrontation Clause occurred under the facts of this case because the officer testified based on his own observations and inclusions, rather than as a surrogate for his partner, who administered the test, and none of the nontestifying officer’s hearsay statements were admitted against Defendant. View "People v. Lin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking a declaration of coverage under a program of builder’s risk insurance furnished by Defendants for weather-related damage to a tower crane. The Appellate Division granted summary judgment declaring that Defendants had no obligation to provide coverage for the subject loss under the policy. At issue in this case was (1) whether the crane was covered in the first instance under the insurance provided for temporary works and, if so, whether the contractor’s tools exclusion defeated that initial grant of coverage; and (2) whether the contractor’s tools exclusion was ineffective because it would render the coverage granted in the first instance for temporary works illusory. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) assuming that the policy contains coverage for the crane in the first instance, the contractor’s tools exclusion would defeat that coverage; and (2) the contractor’s tools exclusion does not render the coverage afforded under the temporary works provision of the policy illusory. View "Lend Lease (US) Construction LMB Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co." on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of attempted assault in the third degree, assault in the third degree, and other offenses. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting a phone call between Defendant and his ex-girlfriend as an adoptive admission. The Appellate Division concluded that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in admitting the call. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) because the People satisfied the threshold evidentiary requirements for admissibility, the trial court properly placed the call before the jury; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s request to redact portions of the call; and (3) that the call was recorded while Defendant was incarcerated does not change the analysis. View "People v. Vining" on Justia Law
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Defendant pled guilty to one count of hindering prosecution in the second degree. After Defendant’s codefendant was acquitted of the underlying felony, and prior to Defendant’s sentencing, Defendant moved to withdraw his plea. The trial court denied the motion and sentenced Defendant in accordance with the plea agreement. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court neither abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea nor erred in rejecting Defendant’s attempt to relitigate his guilt, as Defendant’s arguments that his plea was constitutionally infirm and that the codefendant’s acquittal of the underlying felony rendered him innocent were without merit. View "People v. Fisher" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of predatory sexual conduct and three counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree. Defendant was sentenced to twenty-five years’ imprisonment followed by twenty years’ post-release supervision on each of the three counts of criminal sexual act and on each corresponding count of predatory sexual assault. The sentence for the criminal sexual acts was to run concurrently to the sentence for the corresponding predatory sexual assault, with the three pairs of sentences to run consecutively to each other. The Appellate Division affirmed the sentences. Defendant appealed, arguing that his aggregate sentence of seventy-five years violates the Eighth Amendment and N.Y. Const. art. I, 5. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to preserve for review his claim that his sentence was cruel and unusual. View "People v. Pena" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff suffered injuries while traveling on a state highway when a large branch broke off a tree bordering the road, fell through Plaintiff’s Jeep, and struck her on the head. Plaintiff and her spouse, derivatively, brought this action alleging that Defendant, the alleged owner of the property on which the tree was located, was negligent in failing to inspect, trim, and remove the dead or diseased tree. Plaintiff also sued the State, alleging negligence on the part of Department of Transportation employees for failing to properly maintain the trees or warn drivers of hazards along the state highway. Defendant moved for a jury charge directing the apportionment of liability for Plaintiff’s injuries between Defendant and the State. The trial court denied Defendant’s request for a jury instruction regarding apportionment. The Appellate Division modified by reversing the denial of Defendant’s motion for a jury charge on apportionment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the fact-finder may not apportion fault to the State when a plaintiff claims that both the State and a private party are liable for noneconomic losses in a personal injury action. View "Artibee v. Home Place Corp." on Justia Law
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The Statewide Central Register maintained by the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) received information alleging educational neglect by Petitioners. OCFS referred the report to the Westchester County Department of Social Services, Office of Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS decided that the case was eligible to proceed under the Family Assessment Response Track (FAR track) but submitted the case for closure in the month after the report was received, without recommending services. Thereafter, Petitioners wrote to OCFS to request expungement of the FAR records and report. The Director of the OCFS Central Register stated that OCFS could not comply with Petitioners’ request because Petitioners had been placed on the FAR track rather than the standard investigative track. Petitioners then commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding against OCFS and the Director, challenging OCFS’s denial of the opportunity for Petitioners to seek early expungement of the educational neglect report. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the statutory procedure allowing for early expungement of reports relating to alleged child abuse does not apply when the parents are not formally investigated but instead are assigned to the FAR track pursuant to N.Y. Soc. Serv. Law 427-a. View "Corrigan v. New York State Office of Children & Family Services" on Justia Law

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Jose and Ada Marin obtained an $8 million settlement for injuries Jose suffered when he fell forty feet while working on a building in Manhattan. At issue in this appeal was a fee dispute between Plaintiffs’ attorney-of-record in that action, Sheryl Menkes, and two attorneys she engaged to assist her, Jeffrey Manheimer and David Golomb. Supreme Court held that the fee-sharing agreements unambiguously entitled Manheimer to twenty percent of net attorneys’ fees and Golomb to forty percent of net attorneys’ fees. The Appellate Division affirmed. Menkes appealed. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division, holding that, based on the plain language of the parties’ respective fee-sharing agreements, Manheimer was entitled to twenty percent of net attorneys’ fees and Golomb was entitled to twelve percent of net attorneys’ fees. View "Marin v. Constitution Realty, LLC" on Justia Law
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