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The State’s contribution to health insurance benefits for State employees, including members of the State judiciary, is not judicial compensation protected from direct diminution by the Judicial Compensation Clause of the State Constitution, and the reductions in contributions do not have the effect of singling out the judiciary for disadvantageous treatment. Plaintiffs, Supreme Court Justices and others, filed suit against the State seeking a declaratory judgment that newly amended N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 167(8), which authorizes reduction in contributions towards health insurance premiums, violates the Compensation Clause of the State Constitution. Supreme Court denied the State’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that compensation includes health insurance benefits and that the decree in the State’s contribution level discriminated against judges. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a contribution to health care premiums is not compensation within the context of the Compensation Clause, and the change in State contributions does not jeopardize the independence of the judiciary. View "Bransten v. State" on Justia Law

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A government agency may rely on section 37(2)(e)(iii) of the State’s Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law art 7 (FOIL)) - under which an agency may seek to exempt from public inspection those records compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation - only if the agency establishes that (1) an express promise of confidentiality was made to the source, or (2) the circumstances of the particular case are such that the confidentiality of the source or information can be reasonably inferred. In this case, the Second Department ruled that the District Attorney of Nassau County properly denied Petitioner’s FOIL request for records relating to his conviction. Petitioner subsequently commenced this proceeding pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 against the Nassau County District Attorney seeking disclosure of his case file. Supreme Court granted the petition. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the case file was appropriately withheld under section 87(2)(e)(iii). The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to Supreme Court, holding that the Second Department applied the wrong standard in making its ruling. View "Friedman v. Rice" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals answered two certified questions by holding (1) under the capacity rule, public benefit corporations have no greater stature to challenge the constitutionality of state statutes than do municipal corporations or other local government entities; and (2) a claim-revival statute will satisfy the Due Process Clause of the state Constitution if it was enacted as a reasonable response in order to remedy an injustice. Plaintiffs, workers who participated in cleanup operations following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, brought claims against BatteryPark City Authority (BPCA), a public benefit corporation, alleging that they developed illness as a result of their exposure to harmful toxins at BPCA-owned properties in the course of their cleanup duties. The district court dismissed the claims on the grounds that Plaintiffs did not serve BPCA with timely notices of claim. The legislature responded by enacting Jimmy Nolan’s law, which revived Plaintiffs’ time-barred causes of action for one year after the law’s enactment. Plaintiffs subsequently served new notices of claim on BPCA within the one-year revival period. The district court granted summary judgment for BPCA, concluding that Jimmy Nolan’s Law was unconstitutional as applied. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal certified questions to the Court of Appeals. The court answered as set forth above. View "In re World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation" on Justia Law

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Family Court does not retain subject matter jurisdiction to conduct a permanency hearing pursuant to Family Court Act (FCA) article 10-A once the underlying neglect petition brought under article 10 of the FCA has been dismissed for failure to prove neglect. Family Court directed Daughter’s temporary removal from Mother’s custody. The Department of Social Services subsequently filed a FCA article 10 neglect petition. Family Court eventually ruled that the Department failed to prove neglect and dismissed the petition. Family Court, however, did not release Daughter into Mother’s custody and instead held a second permanency hearing. Mother argued that the dismissal of the neglect proceeding against her ended Family Court’s subject matter jurisdiction and should have necessitated her daughter’s immediate return. The Appellate Division affirmed the second permanency hearing order. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the dismissal of a neglect petition operates to discharge a child from placement, terminate all orders regarding supervision, protection or services docketed thereunder, and extinguish Family Court’s jurisdiction over the matter. View "Matter of Jamie J." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Michael Carlson, individually and in his capacity as administrator of his deceased wife Claudia Carlson’s estate and as assignee of William Porter, brought this action pursuant to N.Y. Ins. Law 3420(a)(2) to collect on certain insurance policies. The policies were issued to DHL Worldwide Express, Inc. (DHL) by National Union Fire Insurance Co. (National Union) and American Alternative Insurance Co. (AAIC), and Plaintiff had previously obtained a judgment against MVP Delivery and Logistics, Inc. (MVP) and William Porter. At issue on appeal was whether Michael sufficiently pleaded that MVP was an “insured” under DHL’s policies and whether the policies fell within the purview of N.Y. Ins. Law 3420 as policies “issued or delivered” in New York. The Court of Appeals held (1) dismissal of Plaintiff’s first cause of action pursuant to N.Y. Ins. Law 3420(a)(2) and (b) to collect on certain insurance policies was improper as to National Union and AAIC; (2) whether MVP was an “insured” under DHL’s policies presents a question of fact to be resolved by the trier of fact; and (3) section 3420 encompasses situations where both insureds and risks are located in the state of New York. View "Carlson v. American International Group, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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At issue was whether, prior to the use of affix and mail service of Notices of Violation (NOVs) issued by Department of Building inspectors who discover building code violations, the New York City Charter requires more than a single attempt to personally serve the NOV at the premises. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) sustained Petitioner’s code violations, rejecting Petitioner’s argument that the NOVs were not properly served because more than one attempt at personal service is required prior to the use of the alternative affix and mail procedure authorized in New York City Chapter 1049-a(d)(2)(a)(ii). The Appellate Division confirmed the determination. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the agency properly interpreted New York City Charter 1049-a(d)(2)(b) to require only one attempt at personal service of an NOV at the premises prior to resorting to the affix and mail procedure; and (2) thus, the seven NOVs that were reviewed in the administrative hearings were properly served. View "Mestecky v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals declined Defendant’s invitation to expand the holding in People v. Syville, 15 NY3d 319 (N.Y. 2010), to situations in which retained trial counsel timely filed a notice of appeals but allegedly failed to advise the defendant of his or her right to poor person relief or to take any action when served with a motion to dismiss the appeal years after the notice of appeal was filed. Syville held that, in certain circumstances, coram nobis may be available for a defendant who demonstrated that he or she timely requested that trial counsel file a notice of appeal, the attorney failed to comply, and the omission could not reasonably have been discovered within the one-year time limit. The Court of Appeals declined Defendant’s invitation to expand Syville and instead held that coram nobis was unavailable where Defendant failed to meet his burden of proving that counsel was ineffective. View "People v. Arjune" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Applying the strict equivalency test to the facts of this case, the Court of Appeals held that Defendant’s Georgia conviction for burglary was equivalent to a violent felony in New York, and therefore, Defendant was properly sentenced as a second violent felony offender based upon that previous conviction. Defendant pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. At sentencing, the trial court determined that Defendant must be punished as a second violent felony offender based on his previous Georgia conviction for burglary and sentenced him accordingly. The Appellate Division reversed, ruling that the Georgia conviction was not the equivalent of a New York violent felony. The Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated Defendant’s sentence as a second violent felony offender, holding that Defendant may be sentenced as a predicate felon based on his Georgia conviction. View "People v. Helms" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Rule 12A, contained in Order 15 of the Cayman Islands Grand Court Rules 1995, is procedural and therefore does not apply where, as here, a plaintiff seeks to litigate his derivative claims in New York. Plaintiff owned ordinary shares in Scottish Re Group, Limited, a Cayman Islands company formerly engaged in the business of reinsurance. Plaintiff asserted both direct and derivative causes of action against Scottish Re and others. The only claims relevant to this appeal were Plaintiff’s derivative claims. Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s derivative causes of action, ruling that, under Cayman Islands law, Plaintiff had not established standing because he did not seek leave of court to commence a derivative action under Rule 12A of the Rules of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. The Appellate Division affirmed based on Plaintiff’s noncompliance with Rule 12A, concluding that the rule applied because it was substantive rather than procedural. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s derivative claims should not have been dismissed on the ground that he failed to comply with Rule 12A where Rule 12A is a procedural rule that does not apply in New York courts. View "Davis v. Scottish Re Group Ltd." on Justia Law

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A plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) where the wrongdoer’s actions amount to willful or wanton negligence, or recklessness, or where there is a “conscious disregard of the rights of others or conduct so reckless as to amount to such disregard.” Plaintiff, a physical therapy aide, sued her former employer and two supervisory employees for sex and pregnancy discrimination under the NYCHRL and Title VII. At trial, the court applied to the NYCHRL the standard for punitive damages found in Title VII. The jury found Defendants liable for pregnancy discrimination and awarded $10,500 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in pain and suffering. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred in importing the Title VII standard. The Second Circuit certified to the Court of Appeals a question regarding the standard for finding a defendant liable for punitive damages under the NYCHRL. The Court of Appeals answered as set forth above. View "Chauca v. Abraham" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights