FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for New York Court of Appeals – 6/30/09

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE

People v. Gomez, No. 119
Defendant’s drug conviction is reversed where the state did not sustain its initial burden of establishing that its search of Defendant’s vehicle constituted a valid inventory search, and thus Defendant’s motion to suppress should have been granted.

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE

People v. Buchanan, No. 101
Defendant’s murder conviction is reversed where the trial court required Defendant to wear a stun belt during trial, and a stun belt may not be used to restrain a defendant in a criminal case without a finding of specific facts justifying the use of such a restraint.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION & ARBITRATION, INJURY AND TORT LAW, INSURANCE LAW

People v. Coventry First LLC, No. 115
In an enforcement action by the state claiming that Defendant life settlement providers concealed commissions to brokers, who persuaded their clients to accept Defendants’ offers, the denial of Defendants’ motion to dismiss or compel arbitration is affirmed where: 1) the state was not bound by arbitration agreements signed by Defendants’ clients; and 2) the complaint stated a claim that Defendants knew that the life settlement brokers’ conduct constituted a breach of fiduciary duty.

INJURY AND TORT LAW

Butler v. Gloversville, No. 116
In a personal injury action claiming that Defendants failed to use a recommended ground cover at a playground they operated, summary judgment for Defendants is reversed where Defendants presented insufficient scientific evidence to show that Plaintiff’s injury would have occurred even with the recommended equipment.

PROPERTY LAW & REAL ESTATE

Buffalo Crushed Stone Inc. v. Cheektowaga, No. 118
In an action seeking a declaration that town zoning ordinances did not apply to Plaintiff’s quarry due to prior nonconforming use, the trial court’s order exempting portions of Plaintiff’s property from the ordinances is modified where Plaintiff had manifested its intent to mine certain parcels long before the ordinances at issue.

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