The Court of Appeals’ October Session Begins in Rochester: Arguments of Interest for October 14, 2016

The Court of Appeals will hear arguments at the Appellate Division, Fourth Department in Rochester on Friday, October 14, 2016. Of the cases on the argument schedule (the Court’s case summaries can be found here), two are of particular interest:

No. 168           Matter of Diegelman v City of Buffalo

In Diegelman, a Buffalo police officer was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and brought an action against the City under General Municipal Law § 205-e, alleging an injury in the line of duty by exposure to asbestos at City police stations.  In opposing Diegelman’s application for permission to serve a late notice of claim, the City argued that his claim was barred because General Municipal Law § 207-c, which requires municipalities outside of New York City to pay full salary and for all medical care for officers injured in the line of duty, was his exclusive remedy.  The Court of Appeals will therefore have to decide whether benefits under section 207-c are, in fact, the exclusive remedy available to a non-NYC police officer injured in the line of duty, and if so whether the distinction between NYC police officers and all other police officers in New York passes muster.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department’s decision below denying leave to serve the late notice of claim because the action was “patently meritless” can be found here.

No. 171           People v Harvert Stephens

What is “unnecessary noise”? Do you know it when you hear it?  That’s what the Court of Appeals is asked to decide in Stephens.  Stephens was convicted of drug possession and a violation of the Syracuse Noise Control Ordinance after his car was stopped for playing his stereo that could be heard “from well over 100 feet away.”  Stephens challenged the Noise Control Ordinance as unconstitutionally vague, but the Appellate Division, Fourth Department upheld the statute, relying on the Court of Appeals’ seminal decision in People v New York Trap Rock Corp. (57 NY2d 371 [1982]).  Now 34 years after Trap Rock, the Court of Appeals will consider the standard for vagueness again.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department’s decision below can be found here.

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