FINDLAW:Daily Opinion Summaries for New York Court of Appeals – 11/21/08



BANKING LAW, CIVIL PROCEDURE, INTERNATIONAL LAW

Morgenthau v. Avion Res. Ltd., No. 167
In a civil forfeiture action seeking to obtain proceeds of an allegedly illegal international monetary transfer scheme, dismissal of complaint is reversed where service of process pursuant to CPLR 313 on defendants in Brazil was sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction, and plaintiffs were not compelled to serve defendants in accordance with Brazil’s service requirements via letters rogatory.

 
CIVIL PROCEDURE, CONTRACTS, PROPERTY LAW & REAL ESTATE, TAX LAW

White House Manor, Ltd. v. Benjamin, No. 155
In an unjust-enrichment action arising out of plaintiff’s sale of land to defendant, and a third party’s subsequent entry into a conditional contract to purchase that land, summary judgment entered against the third party is reversed where: 1) a stipulation concerning the third party’s obligation to pay defendants’ pro rata share of property taxes could be enforced by the court; but 2) no party had moved for summary judgment under CPLR 3212; and 3) issue had not been joined by the third party, and summary judgment against the third party regarding claims for breach of the contract was therefore inappropriate.

 
CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE, ETHICS & PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, EVIDENCE

People v. Ennis, No. 168
In a case where defendant was convicted on drug-related conspiracy and assault charges, denial of defendant’s post-conviction motion to vacate his convictions on Brady and ineffective assistance of counsel grounds is affirmed where: 1) the Brady violation did not contribute to the guilty verdict, since defendant’s counsel was aware during the trial of the information withheld by prosecutors; 2) no cognizable conflict of interest arose from the fact that defendant’s attorney was aware of the exculpatory evidence, but did not act on it out of a desire not to reveal his source for the information; and 3) defense counsel was not ineffective for failing to act on the exculpatory information, because there would ultimately have been no way for defendant to present the information to the jury.

 
FAMILY LAW, GOVERNMENT BENEFITS, HEALTH LAW

In the Matter of Abraham XX, No. 165
In a petition seeking repayment by the state of funds in excess of a Medicaid lien, summary judgment for the state is affirmed where the state was entitled to recover from the assets of a Supplemental Needs Trust the total medical assistance paid on behalf of the recipient.

 
INJURY AND TORT LAW, INSURANCE LAW, PROPERTY LAW & REAL ESTATE

Briggs Ave. LLC v. Ins. Corp. of Hannover, No. 163
In a declaratory-judgment action seeking to compel defendant-insurer to defend a personal-injury action brought against plaintiff-insured, upon a question certified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the court answers that a liability insurer is entitled to disclaim coverage when the insured, because of its own error in failing to update the address it had listed with the Secretary of State, did not comply with a policy condition requiring timely notice of a lawsuit. .