New York Court of Appeals Summaries for April 30, 2011

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New York Court of Appeals

Summaries for April 30, 2011

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Bessemer Trust Company, N.A. v. Francis S. Branin, Jr.

Docket: No. 63 Opinion Date: April 28, 2011

Judge: Ciparick

Areas of Law: Business Law, Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law and Professional Malpractice & Ethics

Plaintiff sued a former employee after a number of the former employee’s clients left plaintiff’s wealth management and investment advisory firm for the firm that the former employee currently works at. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified the following question for the court: “What degree of participation in a new employer’s solicitation of a former employer’s client by a voluntary seller of that client’s good will constitutes improper solicitation?” In answering the certified question, the court continued to apply its precedents in Von Breman v. MacMonnies and Mohawk Maintenance Co. v. Kessler and held that the “implied covenant” barred a seller of “good will” from improperly soliciting his former clients. The court also held that, while a seller may not contact his former clients directly, he may, “in response to inquiries” made on a former client’s own initiative, answer factual questions. The court further held that the circumstances where a client exercising due diligence requested further information, a seller may assist his new employer in the “active development… of a plan” to respond to that client’s inquires. Should that plan result in meeting with a client, a seller’s “largely passive” role at such a meeting did not constitute improper solicitation in violation of the “implied covenant.” As such, a seller or his new employer may then accept the trade of a former client.

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In the Matter of James J. Seiferheld v. Raymond Kelly

Docket: No. 84 Opinion Date: April 28, 2011

Judge: Smith

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law and Public Benefits

Petitioner, a New York City police officer, retired in 2004 and was awarded disability benefits. In the following years, the police department received information indicating that petitioner was not disabled; that he made false representations to the Police Pension Fund (“Fund”); and that he had ingested cocaine, thus becoming ineligible to return to duty. At issue was whether the city should continue to pay petitioner a pension. The court affirmed the Appellate Division’s order annulling the termination of petitioner’s pension benefits and held that the benefits can only be terminated by the trustee of the Fund, who has not taken necessary action.

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The People v. John Lingle; The People v. John Parisi; The People v. Dominque Murrell; The People v. John Prendergast; The People v. Manual Rodriquez ;The People v. Darryl Sharlow

Docket: 65, 66, 67, 68, 86 and 87 Opinion Date: April 28, 2011

Judge: Read

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law and Criminal Law

Defendants, six individuals, sought relief upon resentencing from their statutory obligation to serve postrelease supervision (“PRS”). At issue was whether Double Jeopardy barred their resentencing to PRS; whether substantive due process barred their resentencing to PRS; whether a resentencing court may reconsider a defendant’s sentence at a resentencing to correct a People v. Sparber error; and whether the appellate division may reduce a defendant’s sentence on appeal from a resentencing to correct a Sparber error. The court rejected defendants’ Double Jeopardy argument and held that after it handed down People v. Sparber, the legislature promptly adopted legislation to allow resentencing as many defendants as possible to sentences that include PRS. The court also rejected defendants’ substantive due process argument where defendants did not give reason for the court to interpret substantive due process more broadly in these circumstances as a matter of state constitutional law. The court also held that resentencing to set right the flawed imposition of PRS at the original sentencing was not a plenary proceeding. The court further held that the Appellate Division could not reduce the prison sentence on appeal in the interest of justice when a trial court lacked discretion to reconsider the incarceratory component of a defendant’s sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Appellate Division’s order except People v. Sharlow, where the the order should be reversed and the resentence imposed by the Supreme Court reinstated.

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