FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for New York Court of Appeals – 10/28/08


ADMINISTRATIVE LAW, PROPERTY LAW & REAL ESTATE, PUBLIC UTILITIES, TAX-EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS, WATER LAW

In the Matter of Brooklyn Assembly Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Inc. v. Dep’t of Envtl. Prot. of the City of New York, No. 153
In a petition seeking to force city water agencies to provide a statutorily-authorized exemption allowing petitioner-church free use of city water, denial of petition and dismissal of cause are affirmed where: 1) the agencies were not required to expand the scope of the exemption to cover petitioner’s partially-qualifying property; and 2) the agencies were not required to interpret the exemption in the context of analogous property-tax exemptions for religious organizations.

 

 

CIVIL RIGHTS, CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE

People v. Jones, No. 160
Denial of defendant’s Batson challenge is affirmed where defendant failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination in the peremptory challenge of an African-American juror.

 

 

CIVIL RIGHTS, ETHICS & DISCIPLINARY CODE, ETHICS & PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, FAMILY LAW, PER CURIAM

In the Matter of Jung, No. 150
Petition for review of a determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which imposed the sanction of removal from office as a family-court judge, is denied where petitioner’s policies limiting parents’ rights to be heard and to counsel during custody proceedings were due-process violations, resulting in gross and repeated deprivation of litigants’ rights.

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, GOVERNMENT LAW, JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT, TRANSPORTATION

Boudreaux v. State of Louisiana Dep’t of Transp., No. 182
In a suit to satisfy a money judgment in a negligence case by reaching New York assets owned by the State of Louisiana, denial of plaintiffs’ request to amend filing of the Louisiana judgment is affirmed where neither the Full Faith and Credit clause nor the doctrine of comity required New York courts to enforce a money judgment against Louisiana when such judgment was unenforceable in Louisiana due to constitutional and statutory limitations.

 

 

CONSTRUCTION, INJURY AND TORT LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW

Cohen v. Mem’l Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr., No. 218 SSM 25
In a suit under Labor Law section 240(1), summary judgment for plaintiff is reversed where no Labor Law section 240(1) liability exists where an injury results from a separate hazard wholly unrelated to the risk which brought about the need for the safety device in the first place.

 

 

GOVERNMENT LAW, PROPERTY LAW & REAL ESTATE

In the Matter of City of New York, regarding Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area, Phase II, No. 156
In a condemnation proceeding in which the landowner claimed numerous woodworking tools as compensable trade fixtures, an order awarding compensation for the tools is reversed where: 1) the claimed items would not “lose substantial value” if removed from the premises; and 2) on remand the court could consider whether the items otherwise met the test for trade fixtures, under a three-pronged “annexation-adaptability-permanency” test.

 

 

INJURY AND TORT LAW, LANDLORD TENANT LAW, PROPERTY LAW & REAL ESTATE

Litwack v. Plaza Realty Investors, Inc., No. 159
In a negligence suit brought by a tenant arising from the discovery of toxic mold in her apartment, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed where the plaintiff failed to present evidence to show that defendants were on notice of a possible hazardous mold condition.

FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for New York Court of Appeals – 10/21/08


AGRICULTURE, CONSTRUCTION, CONTRACTS, INJURY AND TORT LAW

Brothers v. New York State Elec. & Gas Corp., No. 146
In an action by a forestry worker injured on the job, alleging negligence by his employer for which defendant, which contracted with the employer to perform the work, should be held vicariously liable, summary judgment for defendant is affirmed where: 1) a contractual obligation does not necessarily constitute a nondelegable duty in tort; and 2) on the facts of this case, liability could not be extended to defendant.

 

 

CONSTRUCTION, CONTRACTS, INJURY AND TORT LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW

Brooks v. Judlau Contracting, Inc., No. 147
In an action brought by an ironworker for injuries sustained on the job while employed by defendant’s subcontractor, dismissal of plaintiff’s third-party claim against the subcontractor is reversed where section 5-322.1 of the General Obligations Law allows a general contractor, who has been found to be partially at fault, to enforce an indemnification provision against its subcontractor for that portion of damages attributable to the negligence of the subcontractor, so long as the indemnification provision does not purport to indemnify the general contractor for its own negligence.

 

 
CONSTRUCTION, INJURY AND TORT LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW

Stringer v. Musacchia, No. 158
Plaintiff who was injured while building a shed for an acquaintance while on a hunting trip was not an “employee” covered by Labor Law section 240(1), as he was providing casual, uncompensated assistance to another person with a repair or construction project in an informal arrangement that did not give rise to mutual duties or obligations between them and bore none of the traditional hallmarks of an employment relationship.

 

 

CONTRACTS, EVIDENCE, FAMILY LAW

Graev v. Graev, No. 139
In a suit over the termination of spousal-support payments after husband claimed that wife had triggered a “termination condition” for such payments by cohabiting with another man, judgment in favor of wife is reversed and case remanded where: 1) the word “cohabitation” was ambiguous as used in the separation agreement; 2) neither the dictionary nor case law supplied an authoritative or plain meaning; 3) “cohabitation” does not require changed economic circumstances; and 4) remand was necessary to determine the intent of the parties based on extrinsic evidence.

 

 

CONTRACTS, INJURY AND TORT LAW, INSURANCE LAW

Sorbara Constr. Corp. v. AIU Ins. Co., No. 157
In a suit seeking to require an insurer to defend or indemnify an insured, judgment for defendant-insurer is affirmed where: 1) when a policy of liability insurance requires that notice of an occurrence be given “as soon as practicable,” such notice must be provided within a reasonable period of time, and failure to give such notice relieves the insurer of its obligations under the contract, regardless of whether the insurer was prejudiced by the delay; and 2) notice provided under the worker’s compensation policy at the time of the incident did not constitute notice under the liability policy even though both policies were written by the same carrier.

 

 

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE

People v. Lucas, No. 148
Conviction for first-degree murder is affirmed over a claim that the indictment was legally insufficient because it “double-counted” the death of the victim by asserting that defendant had killed him in the course of committing a first-degree kidnapping.