Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
People v. O’Toole
Defendant was charged with first and second degree robbery and other crimes. The first degree robbery charge was based on the alleged display of a firearm. The jury at Defendant's first trial acquitted Defendant of first degree robbery and convicted him of second degree robbery. The Appellate Division reversed and ordered a new trial on the second degree robbery charge. At Defendant's second trial, Defendant filed a motion to preclude the People from introducing evidence that a gun was used in the robbery. The trial court denied the motion and Defendant was again convicted of second degree robbery. The Appellate Division again reversed, holding that the People were collaterally estopped by the earlier verdict from presenting evidence of the gun. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, pursuant to People v. Acevedo, the issue of the display of the gun, which was an issue of evidentiary fact resolved in Defendant's favor by a jury, the People were barred at Defendant's second trial from presenting evidence that contradicted the first jury's finding. View "People v. O'Toole" on Justia Law
Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Ltd. P’ship
Plaintiff was injured during the course of his employment when he was struck by a sheet of plywood that fell from a building under construction. Plaintiff received workers' compensation benefits for his injuries and then filed this personal injury action. Thereafter, the insurance carrier for Plaintiff's employer filed a motion to discontinue Plaintiff's workers' compensation benefits. An administrative law judge found Plaintiff had no further causally-related disability and that he had no further need for treatment. The Workers' Compensation Board Panel (Board) affirmed. Subsequently, in this negligence action, Defendants moved for an order estopping Plaintiff from relitigating the issue of causally-related disability. Supreme Court granted the motion. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the determination of the Board was one of ultimate fact and thus did not preclude Plaintiff from litigating the issue of his ongoing disability. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendants failed to establish that the issue decided in the workers' compensation proceeding was identical to that presented in this negligence action. View "Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Ltd. P'ship" on Justia Law
Council of the City of N.Y. v. Dep’t of Homeless Servs. of the City of N.Y.
The New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is the entity charged with providing temporary housing assistance to homeless men and women in the City. In 2011, DHS announced the adoption of a new eligibility procedure that required applicants to meet a need standard and to cooperate with investigations of need. The New York City Council brought a declaratory judgment action asserting that the new procedure could not be implemented because DHS failed to comply with the notice and hearing provisions in the City Administrative Procedure Act (CAPA). Supreme Court and the Appellate Court concluded that DHS violated CAPA. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because DHS did not follow the notice and hearing steps necessary to formally promulgate the eligibility procedure, the provision was unenforceable until compliance was achieved. View "Council of the City of N.Y. v. Dep't of Homeless Servs. of the City of N.Y." on Justia Law
Devito v. Feliciano
Plaintiff was injured when a van operated by Dennis Feliciano and owned by Paragon Cable Manhattan rear-ended the car in which Plaintiff was a passenger. Plaintiff filed this suit against Feliciano and Paragon Cable (collectively, Defendants), alleging that Defendants' negligence caused her to suffer nasal and vertebra fractures. A jury returned a verdict in Defendants' favor. Plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court erred in failing to give a "missing witness" charge, which instructs a jury that it may draw an adverse inference based on the failure of a party to call a witness who would normally be expected to support that party's version of events. As a precondition for the charge, the witness is expected to give noncumulative testimony. The Appellate Division affirmed Supreme Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) when a missing witness charge is requested in a civil case, the uncalled witness's testimony may be considered cumulative only when it is cumulative of testimony or other evidence favoring the party controlling the witness; and (2) Supreme Court erred in denying Plaintiff's request for a missing witness charge, and the error was not harmless. View "Devito v. Feliciano" on Justia Law
Eujoy Realty Corp. v. Van Wagner Commc’ns, LLC
On October 18, 2000, Tenant leased Landlord's billboard for fifteen years, commencing on December 1, 2000 and ending September 30, 2015. The lease obligated Tenant to pay the full annual basic rent for 2007 to Landlord on January 1, 2007. Tenant later terminated the lease, effective January 8, 2007, and gave Landlord a check representing rent for the period of January 1, 2007 through January 8, 2007. Landlord filed suit against Tenant seeking the balance of the basic rent for 2007. Tenant moved for summary judgment, suggesting that Landlord agreed to pro-rate rent for 2007 during an oral communication. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Tenant. The Appellate Division reversed and granted summary judgment for Landlord. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Tenant was obligated to pay the full annual basic rent for the calendar year 2007, the parties did not agree in the lease to apportion rent post-termination except in specified circumstances not relevant here, and Tenant's claim that the parties orally agreed to such apportionment was barred by the lease's "no oral modification" clause. View "Eujoy Realty Corp. v. Van Wagner Commc'ns, LLC" on Justia Law
Nash v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J.
On January 14, 2010, Plaintiff received a $4.4 million judgment against The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ("Port Authority"). The Nash judgment became final as of July 13, 2011 due to the Port Authority's failure to appeal. The Court of Appeals subsequently issued Matter of World Trade Center Bombing Litig. ("Ruiz"), which held that the Port Authority was insulated from tortious liability for injuries sustained in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The Port Authority moved to vacate the Nash judgment pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5105. Supreme Court granted the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to vacate her judgment because the judgment in her case was final and beyond the scope of review. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Nash's judgment became final when the Port Authority failed to appeal within the requisite time period; and (2) Supreme Court erred in concluding that (i) the Court of Appeals' decision in Ruiz divested Supreme Court of its authority to review the equities with respect to the parties in determining whether the vacate the judgment, and (ii) Ruiz mandated that the court must grant a section 5015(a) motion by rote. Remitted. View "Nash v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J." on Justia Law
People v. Abraham
Defendant was charged with arson in the third degree, insurance fraud in the second degree, and reckless endangerment in the first degree. Defendant's first trial ended in a hung jury. At his second trial, the jury found Defendant guilty of insurance fraud in the second degree but acquitted him of the other charges. Defendant appealed, arguing that because the jury acquitted him of arson, the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for insurance fraud. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the factual inconsistency in the jury verdict acquitting Appellant of one count but convicting him of another did not render the evidence legally insufficient to support the conviction. View "People v. Abraham" on Justia Law
People v. Howard
After a jury trial, Defendants were convicted of first-degree robbery. Defendants appealed, arguing, among other things, that their counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to assert as an affirmative defense that one of two weapons displayed during the gunpoint robbery was not "a loaded weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or serious physical injury, could be discharged" pursuant to N.Y. Penal Law 160.15. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) defense counsel were not ineffective for neglecting to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence or for failing to put the affirmative defense before the jury; and (2) the record supported the lower courts' determination that the robbery victim's showup identification of Defendants was proper. View "People v. Howard" on Justia Law
State v. Nelson D.
Nelson D. was a convicted sex offender who suffered from mental retardation. The State filed a N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law 10 petition seeking to subject Nelson to civil management. After a dispositional hearing, Supreme Court found the State failed to establish that Nelson was a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement but concluded that Nelson required strict and intensive supervision and treatment (SIST). Supreme Court ordered Nelson's placement at Valley Ridge Center for Intensive Treatment was an appropriate SIST regimen as authorized under article 10. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) absent a finding of the type of condition that statutorily subjected Appellant to confinement, his placement at Valley Ridge constituted involuntary confinement in violation of article 10; and (2) involuntary commitment, as part of a SIST plan, deprived Nelson of the statutorily proscribed procedures mandated for confinement under article 10. View "State v. Nelson D." on Justia Law
People v. Kevin W.
After an altercation with police officers at a train station, Defendant and his brother fled the scene, leaving a bag on the platform. Based on the bag's contents, Defendant was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest. The police officers later identified Defendant in a photo array. Defendant moved to suppress the contents of the bag and the identifications. Supreme Court initially granted the motion but subsequently reopened the suppression hearing and denied the motion to suppress. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Supreme Court (1) erred when it reopened the suppression hearing because the People had been given the opportunity to present their evidence the first time around, and (2) should have granted reargument rather than reopening and, upon reargument, adhered to its initial suppression order because the police lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the principles underlying People v. Havelka preclude a trial judge from reopening a suppression hearing to give the People an opportunity to shore up their evidentiary or legal position absent a showing they were deprived of a full and fair opportunity to be heard. View "People v. Kevin W." on Justia Law