Category Archives: Litigation

Who Let the (Cat) Out?

This post originally appeared on the SGR blog.

David Finn and his wife sued Ashlynn Anderson in Jamestown City Court for ownership/custody of a cat.

The Finns moved to Wescott Street in September of 2018. Around that time, they noticed a white cat frequently wandering onto their property looking for food. The cat was quite thin, and had no identification tags. They assumed that the four year old cat was a stray, named him “Sylvester”, and began feeding the cat in the entry-way of their home. The Finns fed Sylvester frequently for several months before bringing him into their house.

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But Only God Can Make a Tree (Joyce Kilmer, 1914)

This was originally posted in the SGR Blog.

Ironically, despite their divine origin, disputes between neighbors over trees often arise and, as a recent case illustrates, become the subject of hard fought litigation.

Shafi Ahmed and Nusrat Ahmed filed a Small Claims proceeding against their Middletown, New York neighbor,. Allen H. Zoghby . Both Parties appeared without attorneys.

The Ahmeds alleged that roots from a tree, purportedly on the property next door  owned by  Zoghby (73 Beattie Avenue), damaged the pavement and driveway located at the front of the house on their property (75 Beattie Avenue).  The Ahmeds also alleged that the tree’s roots were slowly moving under the foundation of their house and that branches from the tree on Zoghby’s property had to be cut and trimmed by them at their cost. The Ahmeds initially sued Zoghby for $3,800.00.

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MOTORCYCLE-INVOLVED ACCIDENTS RAISE COMPLICATED ISSUES AS TO LIABILITY, CAUSATION AND ALLOCATION OF FAULT

I cannot recall why and when I first started collecting the articles about motorcycle accidents; however, over time, I realized that lawsuits arising from such claims are very common (in retrospect, for obvious reasons, the inherent danger and risk of riding a motorcycle).  The causes raise a broad panoply of issues including proximate cause, helmet design and manufacture; and road and intersection signage and speed limits.  A few recent examples follow:

Caro v. Chesnick, 2017 NY Slip Op 07940 (1st Dept., November 14, 2017)

Supreme Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

The First Department briefly described the facts:

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SHOUT “FORE” BEFORE TAKING THAT “MULLIGAN”

Golf, like any other recreational activity, runs the risk of accidents on the course – and the resulting injuries often lead to “finger pointing” as to which golfer was at fault.  And the game also often raises predictable and unpredictable collateral disputes such as whether a golf club membership is property that can be seized by a judgment creditor; and claims for trespass and nuisance damages when golf balls land on an adjacent property.  Several recent examples follow:

MacIsaac v. Nassau County, 2017 NY Slip Op 05814, 2d Dept. July 26, 2017 Continue reading

New York Court of Appeals Alert (March 2019)

This first appeared on the SGR Blog.

The mid-2019/2020 Term of the Court of Appeals did not result in any “blockbuster” civil law decisions. The Court, however, did release two opinions that demonstrate how the panel addresses the application of precedents, on the one hand, and substantive conflicts in the Appellate Divisions, on the other.

In the first case, over a stinging dissent, the Court adhered to a 1999 decision  holding that a “stairway” may constitute a “sidewalk”  for tort liability purposes.  And in the second, the Court resolved a split in the Departments over whether the filing of  suit by a New York attorney who did not (as required by law)   maintain an office in the state,  was a curable violation.

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Behold the “Litigation Hold”

Originally published on the SGR blog.

You are an officer, director/manager or agent for a corporation, limited liability company or residential cooperative/condominium. You occasionally receive garden-variety  claims for  personal injuries (e.g. slip-and-falls).  And from time-to-time more threatening claims (e.g. discrimination, breach of fiduciary duty).

First thing first: immediately notify your liability insurance carrier in writing.  And second: preserve all hard copy and electronic documents and communications (including all audio and visual records) directly or indirectly relating to the claim.

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The Best Defense Against a Charge of Defamation

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine

In these contentious times, politics at all levels – even at the level of co-op and condo board elections – tend to get ugly. Charges and counter-charges circulate with lightning speed. One recent condo board election led to a lawsuit over the truth of charges emailed by one of the candidates. The case turned on the definition of the D-word: defamation.

Sandra Peterson, a unit-owner at Edgemont at Tarrytown Condominium and a former president of the board of managers, was running for election against fellow unit-owner Mary Ellen Maun. During the election process, Maun sent emails to other unit-owners which, Peterson claimed, were false and defamatory and sent with the specific intent to damage Peterson’s good name and reputation in the community.

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Court Addresses Dispute Over Display of American Flag

We have published a new article on the SGR blog.

Condominium declarations, by-laws and rules and regulations govern many details of residential apartment living and unit owners are obligated to comply with them even if they feel that they impinge upon their rights.  This point is illustrated by a recent lawsuit involving the display of an American flag.

Read more on the SGR blog.

THE ENGAGEMENT “RING” OF LITIGATION

Was an expensive ring a conditional gift given in contemplation of marriage (to be returned if the wedding did not take place) or an outright gift (to be kept whether or not marriage ensued)?

The answer may depend on where the ring was given (New York or elsewhere), and application of principals of choice of law (where the parties resided in different states) and/or conflict of laws (where the laws in different states are not the same).  Three recent cases are illustrative:

McMahon v. Decicco, 2018 NY Slip Op 31706(U), Sup Ct. Suff. Co. (July 18, 2018) Continue reading

Court of Appeals #16

We recently published a new update on decisions from the Court of Appeals.