by
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division and reinstated the order of Supreme Court convicting Defendant of murder in the second degree on the theory of felony murder, robbery in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, holding that to the extent there was any suppression of impeachment material, there was no reasonable possibility that the verdict would have been different if the information at issue had been disclosed. The Appellate Division granted Defendant's motion to vacate his conviction, holding that the People violated their obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing to disclose favorable impeachment material derived from the circumstances of a prosecution witness's pending burglary case and that the People failed to correct misleading testimony provided by the witness on that subject at trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was no reasonable possibility that the failure to disclose the particular evidence would have affected the verdict. View "People v. Giuca" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court granting Defendant summary judgment in this insurance dispute, holding that a general business practice of failing promptly to disclose coverage within the meaning of N.Y. Ins. Law 2601(a)(6) does not include violations of the timely liability disclaimer requirement of N.Y. Ins. Law 3420(d)(2). This dispute arose between Plaintiff, the general contractor in an underlying personal injury action by an employee of Plaintiff's subcontractor, and Defendant, the subcontractor's general liability insurer. Defendant's policy named Plaintiff as an additional insured, extending coverage to Plaintiff for liability related to the "ongoing operations" of the subcontractor and other members of the risk retention group. After Defendant disclaimed coverage Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the policy obligated Defendant to defend and indemnify Plaintiff in the employee's personal injury action. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Defendant, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that section 2601(a)(6) does not encompass the liability disclaimer requirement of section 3420(d)(2). View "Nadkos, Inc. v. Preferred Contractors Insurance Co. Risk Retention Group LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division granting summary judgment for Defendant in this products liability action, holding that Defendant failed to carry its burden on summary judgment that the industrial "coke ovens" located in the decedent's workplace were not "products" for purposes of strict products liability such that Defendant did not have a duty to warn of their harmful nature. The decedent worked as a coke oven "lid man" for almost thirty years. A coke oven burns coal at high temperatures to create coke, a fuel formerly used in the production of steel. The decedent's estate commenced this action alleging that the decedent's cancer was proximately caused, at least in part, by his exposure to the coke oven emissions at Defendant's plant. Supreme Court denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment, concluding that coke ovens were products and thus subjected Defendant to strict liability as a products manufacturer. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that a coke oven did not constitute a product for purposes of Plaintiff's products liability causes of action. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that coke ovens are products within the broader context of common-law principles of assigning a legal duty to warn. View "Matter of Eighth Judicial District Asbestos Litigation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming Defendant's conviction of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, and criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, holding that the People failed to meet its burden to establish that the conditions necessary to warrant a missing witness charge were not met under People v. Gonzalez, 68 NY2d 424 (N.Y. 1986). On appeal, the Appellate Division held that Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant's request for a missing witness instruction, which allows a jury to draw an unfavorable inference based on a party's failure to call a witness who would normally be expected to support that party's version of events. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Supreme Court abused its discretion by declining to give the missing witness charge because the People failed to rebut Defendant's prima facie showing of entitlement to the missing witness charge. View "People v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
In this case concerning a manufacturer's liability for a design defect where the allegedly defective products came into the injured end user's hands through the rental market, the Court of Appeals held that the jury instructions incorporating a "rental market" theory espoused by Plaintiff's expert were misleading and incompatible with governing precedent. In Scarangella v. Thomas Built Buses, 93 NY2d 655 (N.Y. 1999), the Court of Appeals recognized an exception to the general rule of strict products liability for design defects where the manufacturer offers a product with an optional safety device and the purchaser chooses not to obtain it. Plaintiff in this case alleged that a Bobcat S-175 "skid-steer" loader rented and operated by the decedent was defectively designed because it did not incorporate an optional door kit. The loader came into the decedent's hands through the rental market rather than by a purchase transaction. The jury rendered a verdict for Plaintiff. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the "rental market" distinction was a limitation to this Court's holding in Scarangella. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a "rental market" exclusion from the Scarangella exception is not appropriate, and Plaintiff's expert's rental market theory was improperly incorporated into the strict products liability instruction charged to the jury. View "Fasolas v. Bobcat of N.Y., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

by
The Court of Appeals held that the Public Service Law, in authorizing the Public Service Commission (PSC) to set the conditions under which public utilities will transport consumer-owned electricity and gas, authorized the PSC to issue an order that conditioned access to public utility infrastructure by energy service companies (ESCOs) upon ESCOs capping their prices in a certain manner. In 2016, the PSC issued the order challenged in this case that conditioned ESCOs' access to public utility infrastructure upon ESCOs capping their prices such that, on an annual basis, they charge no more for electricity than is charged by public utilities unless thirty percent of the energy is derived from renewable sources. Petitioners - ESCOs and their representative trade associations - commenced these two separate proceedings - combined N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceedings and actions for declaratory judgment - seeking a declaration that the order was void and a a permanent injunction enjoin the PSC from enforcing the order. Supreme Court granted the petitions to the extent of vacating the challenged provisions of the order. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed. The Court of Appeals modified the Appellate Division's orders, holding that the PSC did not exceed its statutory authority or violate Petitioners' constitutional rights in issuing the order. View "National Energy Marketers Ass'n v New York State Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

by
In this personal injury case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division reversing Supreme Court's denial of Defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding that the requisite showing of minimum contacts with New York was lacking. Plaintiffs commenced this personal injury action against several defendants, including the defendant at issue in this appeal, an Ohio firearm merchant who sold a gun to an Ohio resident in Ohio that was subsequently resold on the black market and used in a shooting in New York. Defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting a defense of lack of personal jurisdiction. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the complaint as against Defendant. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, in the absence of minimum contacts, New York courts may not exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant. View "Williams v. Beemiller, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing Defendant's conviction of manslaughter in the first degree, holding that no reasonable view of the evidence warranted a jury instruction on justification. Defendant shot and killed the victim in the lobby of Defendant's apartment building following an argument. Defendant asked the court for a justification instruction, but the court denied the request on the grounds that the evidence did not warrant a justification charge. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant was entitled to a jury instruction on justification. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Defendant was not entitled to a justification charge on this record. View "People v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this declaratory judgment action brought by commercial tenants who unambiguously agreed to waive the right to commence a declaratory judgment action as to the terms of their leases, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the waiver clause was enforceable, requiring dismissal of the complaint. Plaintiffs executed two commercial leases with the predecessor-in-interest of Defendant. Each lease incorporated a rider provided that the tenant waived its right to bring a declaratory judgment action with respect to any provision of the lease. After Defendant sent notices to Plaintiffs alleging various defaults Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking a declaratory judgment that they were not in default. Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action. The Appellate Division affirmed, determining that the declaratory judgment waiver was enforceable and barred Plaintiffs' action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the declaratory judgment waiver was enforceable, and therefore, the action was properly dismissed. View "159 MP Corp. v Redbridge Bedford, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division upholding Defendant's conviction of six counts of first-degree robbery, holding that the trial court created a specter of bias when it negotiated and entered into a cooperation agreement with a codefendant requiring the codefendant to testify against Defendant in exchange for a more favorable sentence. During Defendant's trial, the codefendant testified for the People, admitting to his own involvement in the robbery and identifying Defendant as his accomplice. Defendant moved to preclude the codefendant's testimony, arguing that the cooperation agreement between between the trial court and the codefendant indicated that the court had abdicated its responsibility to act in a neutral and detached manner. The trial court denied Defendant's motion, and Defendant was convicted. The Appellate Division upheld the judgment of conviction. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court abandoned the role of a neutral arbiter and assumed the function of an interested party, thus denying Defendant his due process right to a fair trial in a fair tribunal. View "People v. Towns" on Justia Law