Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division, holding that Defendant's prior New Jersey conviction was within the scope endangering the welfare of a child under New York law, and therefore, the courts below did not err in assessing Defendant thirty points under risk factor nine of the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) risk assessment when determining Defendant's presumptive risk level. In 1999, Defendant was convicted in New Jersey for lewdness in the fourth degree. At issue in this appeal was whether Defendant was properly assessed thirty points under risk factor nine for the New Jersey conviction. The Court of Appeals held that the assessment was warranted and that Defendant's adjudication as a level two Sex Offender was correct because Defendant's prior New Jersey conviction was tantamount to endangering the welfare of a child under New York law. View "People v. Perez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board that Claimant, a former courier with Postmates, Inc., and others similarly situated are employees for whom Postmates is required to make contributions to the unemployment insurance fund, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the Board's finding that the couriers were employees. In reversing the Board's determination, the Appellate Division concluded that the proof did not constitute substantial evidence of an employer-employee relationship to the extent that it failed to provide sufficient indicia of Postmates' control over the means by which the couriers performed their work. The Court of Appeals revered, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that Postmates exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors. View "In re Vega" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding Claimant's award for loss of post-accident earnings, holding that because the Board departed from its administrative precedent without explanation, the case must be remitted so the Board may clarify its rationale and issue a decision in accordance with Matter of Zamora v. New York Neurologic Association, 19 NY3d 186 (N.Y. 2012). On appeal, Appellants argued that the Board's decision was inappropriate because, at the time of her disability classification, Claimant failed to establish that she attempted to and could not find work commensurate with her abilities. Before the Court of Appeals the Board admitted that it departed from its purported precedent by applying a discretionary inference in favor of Claimant as permitted by Zamora without first requiring Claimant to present evidence of her efforts to obtain work or get retrained. The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to the Board to permit the Board to develop a record of its purported precedent as applied to Claimant and clarify its determination whether to draw an inference in accordance with Zamora's core holding. View "O'Donnell v. Erie County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals accepted questions certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and answered that, in this case, Plaintiff sufficiently alleged consumer-oriented conduct to assert claims under N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 349 and 350 for damages incurred due to an insurance company's alleged materially misleading representations. Plaintiff brought this action based on Defendant-insurance company's allegedly misleading representations made directly to the City of New York's employees and retirees about the terms of its insurance plan to induce them to select its plan from among the eleven health insurance plans made available to over 600,000 current and former City employees. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that the claims failed to plead consumer-oriented conduct. On appeal, the federal court of appeals certified questions to the Court of Appeals regarding whether Defendant had engaged in consumer-oriented conduct. The Court of Appeals answered the questions in the affirmative, holding that, under the circumstances, the complaint adequately alleged consumer-oriented conduct. View "Plavin v. Group Health Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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In this criminal proceeding, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division correctly concluded that the sentencing court erred in unsealing the court record of the proceeding in which Defendant was acquitted but erred in concluding that Defendant was not entitled to a remedy for the trial court's violation of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 160.50, holding that the sentence should be vacated. Defendant pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance. Before sentencing, Defendant was prosecuted for a crime he allegedly committed after entering his plea. The jury acquitted Defendant of the new charge, and the official record was sealed. In sentencing Defendant for his possession charge, the court unsealed the records in the prior criminal action. Based in part on Defendant's trial testimony in the sealed proceeding, the court deviated upward from the court's promised sentence. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court erred in unsealing the records of the proceeding terminated by acquittal and improperly considered Defendant's trial testimony in deciding not to adhere to the promised sentence; and (2) because the court's sentence was based on that testimony, the proper remedy was to remit for resentencing without reference to the contents of the sealed records. View "People v. Anonymous" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals confirmed the determination of a local services agency, confirmed by a state agency, that child support payments a parent receives, made for the benefit of her five children living at home, are included as "household" income in deciding whether the household is eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), holding that, for the purposes of SNAP, child support directly received by a parent is household income, even if it is used for the benefit of an ineligible college student living at home. The Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS) discontinued the household's benefits because its income exceeded the upper limit for the household. Because the two college children were ineligible for SNAP, DSS did not count them as household members but did include the full amount of child support in its calculation of household income. The mother appealed, arguing that the college children's pro rata share of the child support payment should be excluded from household income, rendering the household SNAP-eligible. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) upheld the determination. The Appellate Division confirmed the OTDA's determination. The Court of Appeals also confirmed, holding that the OTDA's interpretation of the relevant federal statutes was not irrational and was entitled to deference. View "Leggio v. Devine" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court denying Defendant's motion to set aside his sentence of six months of incarceration, imposed upon his guilty plea to third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, on the ground that the sentence was illegally lenient, holding that the denial of Defendant's motion was not reviewable. Over a fifteen-year period, Defendant committed numerous felonies, some of them violent, yet avoided enhanced sentences. In 1997, Defendant was sentenced as a persistent violent felony offender based upon his criminal convictions in 1988 and 1991. In 2015, Defendant collaterally moved to set aside his 1988 sentence of six months of incarceration under N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 440.20 on the ground that the sentence was illegally lenient. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that because Defendant was not adversely affected by the error in sentencing on the 1988 conviction, his motion must be rejected without consideration of its merits. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that when a defendant moves to vacate a sentence on the ground that it is illegally lenient, denial of the motion is not reviewable because any purported error in the proceedings has not adversely affected the defendant. View "People v. Francis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals upheld a determination of the Comptroller's Office that a Port Authority compensation adjustment program artificially enhanced certain employees' final average salaries so as to increase their retirement benefits, holding that substantial evidence supported the Comptroller's determination. The Comptroller concluded that the payments made pursuant to the compensation adjustment program were not pensionable compensation under N.Y. Retire. & Soc. Sec. Law 431(3), which provides that "any additional compensation paid in anticipation of retirement" must be excluded from final average salary calculations. Petitioner employees commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding challenging the determination of the Comptroller's Office. The Appellate Division annulled the Comptroller's determination and granted the petition, concluding that the payments did not artificially inflate Petitioners' final average salary in anticipation of retirement. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Comptroller's determination that the Port Authority's compensation adjustment program constituted "additional compensation paid in anticipation of retirement." View "Bohlen v. DiNapoli" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the opinion of the Appellate Division affirming Defendant's conviction of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, holding that there was legally sufficient evidence of Defendant's "intent to defraud, deceive or injury another" within the meaning of N.Y. Penal Law 170.30. On appeal, the Appellate Division held that the jury could reasonably have inferred from the evidence that Defendant knowingly possessed counterfeit money with fraudulent intent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a rational jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant intended to pass the counterfeit bills in his possession and thereby defraud others; (2) Defendant's objections to the admission of certain testimony were unpreserved; and (3) the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to justify the original stop of Defendant. View "People v. Britt" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence following the court's granting permission to the People to reopen the hearing and present additional testimony after the People had rested but before the court rendered a decision, holding that Supreme Court had, and did not abuse, the discretion to reopen the suppression hearing. Defendant was charged with attempted robbery and assault. Defendant moved to suppress the identification made by the victim on the night of the assault, arguing that the identification procedures had been unduly suggestive and that his initial detention had been without reasonable suspicion. A hearing was held. After the People rested but before the court rendered a decision the People were granted permission to reopen the hearing and present additional testimony. Supreme Court subsequently denied Defendant's suppression motion, and Defendant was convicted. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing court's reopening was a permissible exercise of its discretion. View "People v. Cook" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law