Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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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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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Decedent, the wife of Plaintiff, was walking on a rural road when she was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by one of the Jamison defendants. Plaintiff brought this negligence action against the Jamison defendants and Drumm Family Farm, Inc., alleging that, at the time of the collision, Decedent was assisting a calf owned by the Farm that was loose on the roadway. The Farm moved for summary judgment, arguing that its alleged negligence in allowing the calf to escape or failing to retrieve it did not constitute a proximate cause of Decedent’s death. Supreme Court denied the Farm’s motion. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the Farm’s negligence merely furnished the occasion for, but did not cause, Decedent to enter the roadway, where she was struck by the Jamison vehicle. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Farm failed to meet its burden of demonstrating the absence of material issues of fact, and proximate cause was a question for the factfinder. View "Hain v. Jamison" on Justia Law
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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

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Anthony Turturro was attempting to cross Gerritsen Avenue in Brooklyn on his bicycle when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Louis Pascarella. A police investigation determined that Pascarella was traveling at a speed of at least fifty-four miles per hour before the collision. Plaintiffs bought this negligence action against, inter alia, the City of New York and Pascarella. The jury returned a verdict finding that Anthony, Pascarella, and the City were negligent. The jury apportioned ten percent of the liability to Anthony, fifty percent to Pascarella, and forty percent to the City. The City moved to set aside the verdict, arguing that it was entitled to qualified immunity and that it was acting in a governmental capacity when it failed to conduct an adequate study of whether traffic calming measures should be implemented after it received numerous complaints of speeding on Gerritsen Avenue. Supreme Court denied the City’s motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the City was acting in a proprietary capacity regarding the safety of Gerritsen Avenue; and (2) there was a rational process by which the jury could have concluded that the City’s negligence was a proximate cause of the accident and that the doctrine of qualified immunity did not apply. View "Turturro v. City of New York" on Justia Law
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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

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Plaintiff claimed that, while he was being held at the Erie County Correctional Facility, he was sexually assaulted twice by an inmate. Plaintiff filed this action alleging that the Erie County Sheriff breached a duty to protect him from a reasonably foreseeable hazard of sexual assault. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that (1) no notice of claim was served pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-e because Erie County was statutorily obligated to indemnify Defendant, and (2) the allegedly negligent acts were “inherently discretionary,” and Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant owed him a duty of care in the first instance. The Appellate Division modified, concluding (1) Plaintiff was not required to serve a notice of claim prior to commencing this action because the County had no statutory obligation to indemnify the Sheriff, and (2) the Sheriff had a duty to safely keep prisoners in the county jail, and Defendant’s argument that he was entitled to governmental immunity could not be determined at the pleading stage. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Division correctly ruled that service of a notice of claim was not required under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-e; and (2) the complaint was otherwise sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. View "Villar v. Howard" on Justia Law
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Three Amigos SJL Restaurant Inc., a strip club, brought a defamation action against CBS Broadcasting Inc. and several of its reporters for broadcasting and publishing allegedly false stories about the club’s connection to the mafia. Independent entities that provided management and talent services to the club and employees of those entities were also plaintiffs in the action. Defendants moved to dismiss the claims by the independent entities and their employees pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(1) and (7) on the grounds that the news reports were not “of and concerning” them. Supreme Court granted Defendants’ motion with respect to those plaintiffs. The Appellate Division affirmed. The individual plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case of defamation because the challenged statements were not of and concerning them. View "Three Amigos SJL Restaurant, Inc. v CBS News Inc." on Justia Law
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At issue in this case was N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3101(a)(4), which allows a party to obtain discovery from a nonparty. John Kapon was the CEO of Acker, Merrall & Condit Company (AMC), a retailer and auctioneer of fine and rare wines, and the employer of Justin Christoph. In 2008, William Koch commenced an action against AMC in Supreme Court concerning alleged counterfeit wine that Rudy Kurniawan had consigned to AMC and that AMC had sold to Koch. In 2009, Koch commenced a fraud action in California against Kurniawan, alleging that Kurniawan had sold Respondent counterfeit wine through AMC’s auctions and sales. In 2012, Koch, seeking disclosure in the California action, served subpoenas on Kapon and Christoph (together, Petitioners). Petitioners filed motions to quash the subpoena, which Supreme Court denied. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Petitioners failed to show that the requested deposition testimony was irrelevant to the prosecution of the California action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the subpoenas satisfied the notice requirement of section 3101(a)(4); and (2) in moving to quash the subpoena, Petitioners failed to meet their burden of establishing that their deposition testimonies were irrelevant to the California action.View "Kapon v. Koch" on Justia Law