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A plaintiff does not bear the burden of establishing the absence of their own comparative negligence in order to obtain partial summary judgment in a comparative negligence case. After commencing this negligence action against the City of New York, Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of the City’s liability. Supreme Court denied the motion, concluding that there were triable issues of fact regarding foreseeability, causation, and Plaintiff’s comparative negligence. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to partial summary judgment on the issue of liability because he failed to make a prima facie showing that he was free of comparative negligence. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that to be entitled to partial summary judgment, a plaintiff does not bear the double burden of establishing a prima facie case of the defendant’s liability and the absence of his or her own comparative fault. View "Rodriguez v. City of New York" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, and a related offense, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were not consistent with the controlling law. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) he was denied his constitutional right of self-representation when the trial court denied his request to proceed pro se with “standby counsel” without making any further inquiry; and (2) he was deprived of a fair trial when the trial court precluded his proffered psychiatric testimony for failure to serve notice on the People. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a trial court has the discretion to conduct further colloquy where a defendant does not unequivocally request to proceed without counsel but instead prefers to proceed with the assistance of counsel; and (2) the trial court did not err in precluding Defendant’s unnoticed psychiatric evidence because there was no justification for the surprise, and to allow it would contradict the statutory purpose behind the notice requirement. View "People v. Silburn" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division ruling that Teri W.’s ten-year probation sentence was legal. Teri W. pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, a class D felony sex offense, for an offense she committed when she was seventeen years old. Supreme Court deemed her conviction vacated and replaced by a youthful offender finding and sentenced her to ten years’ probation. On appeal, Teri W. argued that her probation sentence illegally exceeded the five-year maximum for undesignated class E felonies. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the sentence was lawful. View "People v. Teri W." on Justia Law

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The documentary evidence proffered by Defendant on its motion to dismiss pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(1) did not conclusively refute Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims. In 2009, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a three-year employment agreement, under which Plaintiff was an “at will” employee. In 2012, Defendant notified Plaintiff that his employment had ceased upon the expiration of the agreement. Plaintiff brought this breach of contract action against Defendant, alleging that the parties had entered into a valid and binding contract setting forth the terms of his continued employment with Defendant. Defendant moved for an order dismissing Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division modified Supreme Court’s order by dismissing so much of the breach of contract cause of action that sought to recover a special non-compete payment under the 2009 agreement and otherwise affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant did not meet its burden of demonstrating that the proffered evidence conclusively refuted Plaintiff’s factual allegations. View "Kolchins v. Evolution Markets, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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A computer generated image may constitute a “portrait” within the meaning of N.Y. Civ. Rights Law 50 and 51, but the disputed images in the video game central to this matter were not recognizable as Lindsay Lohan, and therefore, Lohan’s complaint was properly dismissed. Lohan claimed that the Lacey Jonas character in the Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) game was her lookalike and misappropriated her portrait and voice. Lohan also claimed that images on various promotional materials and packing for the GTAV cumulatively evoked her images, portrait, and persona. Lohan commenced this action seeking, in part, compensatory and punitive damages for invasion of privacy in violation of N.Y. Civ. Rights Law 50 and 51. The Appellate Division granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a graphical representation in a video game or like media may constitute a “portrait” within the meaning of the Civil Rights Law; and (2) the representations in question were not recognizable as Lohan and therefore not actionable under the Civil Rights Law. View "Lohan v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc." on Justia Law

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An agency may decline to acknowledge that requested records exist in response to a Freedom of Information Law request, see N.Y. Pub. Off. Law 84 et seq. (FOIL), when necessary to safeguard statutorily exempted information. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) was asked to disclose records relating to a police investigation and surveillance activities involving two specific individuals and associated organizations. The information was protected under the law enforcement and public safety exemption of Public Officers Law 87. The NYPD denied the requests. Petitioners then commenced separate N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceedings challenging he determinations. The Appellate Division dismissed the petitions, holding that NYPD’s refusal to confirm or deny the existence of responsive records was consistent with FOIL and the cases construing it. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that it is permissible for an agency to decline to acknowledge possession of responsive records when the fact that responsive records exist would itself reveal information protected under a FOIL exemption. View "Abdur-Rashid v. New York City Police Department" on Justia Law

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The agreement establishing a partnership in this case dictated that Defendant, a partner, wrongfully dissolved the partnership, but it was error to include the legal fees incurred by the remaining partners in the damages owed to them by Defendant. In 1985, Defendant and seven others entered into a written agreement to form a general partnership. In the mid-2000s, Defendant withdrew from the partnership. Plaintiffs, as the partnership’s executive committee and on behalf of the partnership, brought this breach of contract action seeking a declaratory ruling that Defendant had wrongfully dissolved the partnership, as well as damages. Supreme Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs, determining that the partnership was not an “at-will” partnership and therefore could not be dissolved without violation of the partnership agreement. The Appellate Division upheld Supreme Court’s ruling, concluding that Defendant wrongfully dissolved the partnership. On remand for the second time, Supreme Court awarded attorneys’ fees and experts’ fees. The Court of Appeals held (1) the lower courts erred in applying N.Y. P'ship Law 62(1)(b) to decide that Defendant violated the agreement, but they correctly concluded that Defendant’s dissolution was wrongful; but (2) Supreme Court erred in awarding fees to Plaintiffs as part of the statutory damages. View "Congel v. Malfitano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The agreement establishing a partnership in this case dictated that Defendant, a partner, wrongfully dissolved the partnership, but it was error to include the legal fees incurred by the remaining partners in the damages owed to them by Defendant. In 1985, Defendant and seven others entered into a written agreement to form a general partnership. In the mid-2000s, Defendant withdrew from the partnership. Plaintiffs, as the partnership’s executive committee and on behalf of the partnership, brought this breach of contract action seeking a declaratory ruling that Defendant had wrongfully dissolved the partnership, as well as damages. Supreme Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs, determining that the partnership was not an “at-will” partnership and therefore could not be dissolved without violation of the partnership agreement. The Appellate Division upheld Supreme Court’s ruling, concluding that Defendant wrongfully dissolved the partnership. On remand for the second time, Supreme Court awarded attorneys’ fees and experts’ fees. The Court of Appeals held (1) the lower courts erred in applying N.Y. P'ship Law 62(1)(b) to decide that Defendant violated the agreement, but they correctly concluded that Defendant’s dissolution was wrongful; but (2) Supreme Court erred in awarding fees to Plaintiffs as part of the statutory damages. View "Congel v. Malfitano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The terms of the insurance policy at issue in this coverage dispute required a written contract between the named insured and an additional insured if coverage was to be extended to an additional insured, and therefore, Liberty Insurance Underwriters was entitled to summary judgment. Gilbane Building Co. and TDX Construction Corporation (collectively, Gilbane JV) was the construction manager for a new forensic laboratory, and Samson Construction Co. was the general contractor. Samson obtained general liability insurance coverage from Liberty Insurance Underwriters. When disputes arose over the construction, Gilbane JV commerced this lawsuit arguing that it qualified for coverage under the Liberty policy as an additional insured. Gilbane JV had no written contract with Samson denominating it as an additional insured but argued that no such contract was necessary. Supreme Court denied Liberty’s motion for summary judgment, determining that Gilbane JV was an additional insured under the policy. The Appellate Division reversed and granted Liberty’s motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed based on the terms of the policy at issue. View "Gilbane Building Co./TDX Construction Corp. v St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The terms of the insurance policy at issue in this coverage dispute required a written contract between the named insured and an additional insured if coverage was to be extended to an additional insured, and therefore, Liberty Insurance Underwriters was entitled to summary judgment. Gilbane Building Co. and TDX Construction Corporation (collectively, Gilbane JV) was the construction manager for a new forensic laboratory, and Samson Construction Co. was the general contractor. Samson obtained general liability insurance coverage from Liberty Insurance Underwriters. When disputes arose over the construction, Gilbane JV commerced this lawsuit arguing that it qualified for coverage under the Liberty policy as an additional insured. Gilbane JV had no written contract with Samson denominating it as an additional insured but argued that no such contract was necessary. Supreme Court denied Liberty’s motion for summary judgment, determining that Gilbane JV was an additional insured under the policy. The Appellate Division reversed and granted Liberty’s motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed based on the terms of the policy at issue. View "Gilbane Building Co./TDX Construction Corp. v St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law