The Court of Appeals April-May and June 2018 Session and Decision Days Leave Grants

At the end of the term, it’s not abnormal to see the Court of Appeals tend to grant more cases to fill up its argument docket for the fall. During the 2016-2017 term, the Court granted 15 of its 27 total leave grants during the April-May and June sessions, including June Decision Days. More than half from the last three months of the term. This year is similar, with 8 leave grants out of 25 total coming during the April-May and June sessions, plus decision days.

What’s most notable about all of the leave grants this year, however, is the Court’s trend toward granting leave in cases from the Third and Fourth Departments.  Last year, only 7 of the Court’s 27 leave grants came from the upstate Departments. This year, in contrast, 15 cases were granted from the Third and Fourth Departments, compared to 10 from the First and Second. One year is far too small of a sample size to be meaningful, but it will be interesting to watch the grants for the 2018-19 term to see if the Court tends to favor granting leave to cases in the upstate Departments and leaving the First and Second Departments to grant leave on their own.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 8 leave grants from the April-May and June Sessions, and June Decision Days.

April-May Session Leave Grants

Fasolas v Bobcat of N.Y., Inc., 150 AD3d 147 (2d Dept 2017)

Question presented: Whether an exception to strict products liability as set forth in Scarangella v Thomas Built Buses (93 NY2d 655 [1999]) is applicable where the allegedly defectively designed product was sold without optional safety equipment to a rental company that planned to rent the product to the general public.

Supreme Court, Queens County, denied defendants’ motions pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a matter of law dismissing the complaint as to them, and pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside so much of the jury verdict on the issue of liability finding each of the two defendant Bobcat entities 25% at fault in the happening of the accident and defendant Port Jefferson Rental Center d/b/a Taylor Rental Center 50% at fault in the happening of the accident, and for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, to set aside that portion of the jury verdict on the issue of liability in the interest of justice and for a new trial or, in the alternative, to set aside, as excessive, the jury verdict on the issue of damages awarding plaintiff the principal sum of $1,000,000 for conscious pain and suffering (4/18/13 order); and thereafter, entered a judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendants upon the jury verdict on the issue of liability and damages, and upon the 4/8/13 order (4/22/13 order). The Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed and dismissed the appeal and cross appeal from the order denying the parties’ CPLR 4401 and 4404 motions after trial.

Matter of Larchmont Pancake House v Board of Assessors, 153 AD3d 521 (2d Dept 2017)

Questions presented: Whether, in a proceeding pursuant to Real Property Tax Law article 7 brought by a petitioner who did not own the subject property, to review real property tax assessments, the petitioner is an aggrieved party within the meaning of the Real Property Tax Law, and whether the petitioner failed to satisfy condition precedent set forth in RPTL 524(3) because grievance was not filed by property owner, thereby depriving court of subject matter jurisdiction to review assessments.

Supreme Court, Westchester County, denied the motions of the Assessor of the Town of Mamaroneck and the Board of Assessment Review to dismiss the petitions in four related proceedings pursuant to Real Property Tax Law article 7 to review real property tax assessments for the tax years 2010-2013. The Appellate Division, Second Department reversed and granted the motions to dismiss the petition in each proceeding.

Viselli v The Riverbay Corp., 155 AD3d 439 (1st Dept 2017)

Questions presented: In a case where a firefighter slipped and fell on a wet substance on painted concrete stairs, and was injured, whether Supreme Court properly granted summary judgment dismissing plaintiffs’ claim alleging a violation of General Municipal Law § 205-a, and whether defendant’s submission of a certificate of occupancy indicating that the building was in compliance with all applicable statutes, codes and ordinances shifted the burden to plaintiff to raise triable issues on that claim.\

Supreme Court, Bronx County, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed.

June Session Leave Grants

Matter of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. v. Tax Appeals Tribunal of State of N.Y., 155 AD3d 1352 (3d Dept 2017)

Questions presented: Whether an ambiguous tax exclusion should be construed in favor of the taxpayer or the government, whether the Appellate Division correctly concluded that the information services provided to appellant by a nonparty were excluded from sales tax liability under Tax Law § 105 (c)(1), and whether the Appellate Division properly made factual determinations not addressed by the Tax Appeals Tribunal.

The Appellate Division, Third Department annulled the determination of respondent Tax Appeals Tribunal denying petitioner’s request for certain refunds of sales and use tax imposed under Tax Law articles 28 and 29.

Matter of Jordan v New York City Housing Auth., 154 AD3d 618 (1st Dept 2017)

Questions presented: Whether Civil Service Law § 71 applies to labor class employees, whether the Department of Citywide Administrative Services is a necessary party to proceeding that challenged New York City Housing Authority’s denial of petitioner’s application for reinstatement, and whether respondent New York City Housing Authority should have been permitted an opportunity to answer the petition following the denial of its cross motion to dismiss.

Supreme Court, New York County, among other things, 1) granted the petition to the extent of remitting the proceeding to respondent New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for compliance with Civil Service Law § 71, 2) denied NYCHA’s cross motion to dismiss the petition as against it, and 3) denied NYCHA’s request to answer the petition; App. Div. affirmed.

Rosa v Delacruz, 158 AD3d 571 (1st Dept 2018)

Question presented: In a no fault automobile insurance case, whether the plaintiff raised an issue of fact as to whether his injuries were causally related to automobile accident.

Supreme Court, Bronx County granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment dismissing Rosa’s complaint based on his failure to demonstrate that he suffered a serious injury to his left shoulder within the meaning of Insurance Law § 5102 (d). The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed.

Collazo v Netherland Property Assets LLC, 155 AD3d 538 (1st Dept 2017)

Question presented: In a case where tenants claim that their landlord overcharged them rent by allegedly taking advantage of luxury decontrol provisions of the Rent Stabilization Law while simultaneously receiving tax incentives under the City of New York’s J-51 program, whether Supreme Court abused its discretion in determining that most of plaintiffs’ claims were within the specialized expertise of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and dismissing those claims under the primary jurisdiction doctrine.

Supreme Court, New York County granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the overcharge proceeding on the ground that the tenants’ claims should first be determined by the York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed.

June Decision Days Leave Grants

People ex rel. Allen v Yelich, 159 AD3d 1202 (3d Dept 2018)

Question presented: Where the appellant, who absconded from supervision in New York, was sentenced for an unrelated crime in New Jersey, and the New Jersey court ordered the sentence on New Jersey crime to run concurrently with undischarged portion of the New York sentence, but appellant was not returned to New York State custody to serve the concurrent sentence, whether respondent Department of Corrections and Community Supervision improperly calculated appellant’s maximum expiration date for period of post-release supervision.

Supreme Court, Franklin County denied the appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and the Appellate Division, Third Department affirmed.



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