Bulletin Table of Contents: 1995-1999
In re World Trade Center Bombing Litigation. Steering Committee v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.Decided Feb. 16, 1999
2. Whether a court should apply a factual balancing test in evaluating the application of the privilege.
2. Yes. An in camera review
should be held to determine
whether the public interest privilege applies to the specific facts at issue.
In re Bernard T.Decided Feb. 11, 1999
- Issue: Whether the speedy trial rights of detained juveniles was violated when Family Court denied a motion to dismiss, choosing instead to release the juveniles and adjourn the fact-finding hearings for dates within the statutory period applicable to non-detained juveniles.
- Disposition: No. Family Court may deny a motion to dismiss and release a juvenile pending a future hearing which conforms to the statutory period applicable to non-detained juveniles.
In re Benjamin L.Decided Feb. 11, 1999
- Issue: Whether the constitutional right to a speedy trial, which is afforded to every defendant in criminal prosecutions in New York, should be extended to juveniles in delinquency proceedings.
- Disposition: Yes. Although New York does not have a constitutional speedy trial provision, that right is guaranteed under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Many of the same policies that warrant the articulation and enforcement of a criminal defendant's right to a speedy trial are applicable as a matter of fundamental fairness to juveniles in delinquency proceedings.
Hynes v. Tomei; Relin v. MateoDecided on Dec. 22, 1998
- Issue: Whether the New York capital punishment statute violates Fifth and Sixth Amendent rights by imposing death only on those who proclaim their innocence and are, subsequently, granted a jury trial.
- Disposition: Yes. Defendants should not have to make a choice between death and the exercise of their constitutional rights. The provisions endangering a defendant's constitutional rights should be excised and the resulting statute may remain standing.
Adirondack League Club v. Sierra ClubDecided on Dec. 17, 1998
2. Whether questions of fact remain, rendering summary judgment inappropriate.
3. Whether the 1948 decision of the Board of the Black River Regulations District that the South Branch of the Moose River was not navigable precluded relitigation of the issue by the parties in the current action.
2. Yes. Issues of material fact remain which must be determined by a trier of fact, rendering summary judgment inapplicable.
3. No. The parties are not collaterally estopped from litigating the issue of navigability of the South Branch since the Board's 1948 decision was remitted with direction to dismiss the petitions as moot.
People v. SmithDecided Dec. 17, 1998
- Issue: Whether the trial court made a sufficiently "searching inquiry" in order to ascertain whether Defendant understood the risks of foregoing the right to counsel.
- Disposition: No. The trial court failed to discover whether defendant understood the consequences of foregoing counsel, and failed to give defendant the requisite information on proceeding pro se.
People v. LaFontaineDecided Dec. 3, 1998
2. Whether the Appellate Division correctly determined that the trial court erred when it found authorization existed for New Jersey police officers to execute a federal arrest warrant.
Mental Hygiene Legal Service ex rel. Aliza K. v. FordDecided Dec. 3, 1998
- 2. Whether 14 NYCRR 57.2 gives involuntary mental health patients the
right to a judicial hearing prior to a non-emergency transfer to a secure
OMH facility where the primary motivatio for transfer is security.
1. No. This case falls within the exception to the mootness doctrine because the issues involved are likely to recur.
2. No. Denial of a judicial hearing does not violate the patient's due process or equal protection rights.
Cohens v. HessDecided Dec. 1, 1998
- Issue: Whether evidence of a guilty plea in connection with a traffic violation, that has been withdrawn with the court's approval, is admissible in a subsequent civil action seeking damages.
- Disposition: Yes. Evidence of a withdrawn guilty plea is admissible in a civil action if the court allowed the withdrawal of the plea as a matter of discretion and not as a result of constitutional or statutory mandate.
Norcon Power Partners v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.Decided Dec. 1, 1998
- Issue: Whether, under New York law, a party to a contract not governed by the UCC has the right to demand adequate assurance of future performance when reasonable grounds arise to believe that the other party, although solvent, will commit a breach by non-performance of a contract.
- Disposition: Yes. The doctrine of demand for adequate assurance is extended to apply to complex, long-term commercial contracts between two corporate entities where all potential consequences cannot be foreseen, bargained for, or incorporated into the contract.
Jefferson Insurance Co. of New York v. Travelers Indemnity Co.Decided Oct. 27, 1998
2. Whether the antisubrogation rule promulgated in Pennsylvania General Insurance Co. v. Austin Powder Co. (68 N.Y.2d 465 (N.Y. 1986)) bars a claim of indemnity by an excess and primary carrier of insurance purchased by the owner of a leased van against the lessee's carrier.
covered under the endorsements to the business auto policy at issue. Given the insurer's failure to timely disclaim any
purported exclusion, the terms of the contract must be construed against the insurer.
2. Yes. The antisubrogation
rule promulgated in Pennsylvania General Insurance Co. v. Austin Powder
Co. (68 N.Y.2d
465 (N.Y. 1986)) bars a claim of indemnity by an excess and primary carrier of insurance purchased by the owner of a
leased van against the lessee's carrier.
Aeneas McDonald Police Benevolent Association, Inc. v. City of GenevaDecided Oct. 20, 1998
- Issue: Whether a public employer may unilaterally modify an established past employment practice, which is not covered in a collective bargaining agreement, where such modification effects former rather than current employees.
- Disposition: Yes. A public employer may unilaterally modify an established past practice as long as the affected parties are former rather than current employees. An employer owes a statutory duty to negotiate prior to changing a past practice to current but not former employees.
Bethel v. New York Transit AuthorityDecided Oct. 15, 1998
- Issue: Whether a duty of extraordinary care for common carriers should be abandoned in favor of a duty of reasonable care.
- Disposition: Yes. Common carriers should be held to the basic standard of reasonable care for negligence cases. Thus, the trial court erred by instructing the jury to evaluate the carrier's responsibility under a duty of extraordinary care.
Mowczan v. Bacon, et al.Decided Oct. 15, 1998
- Issue: Whether primary Defendants may commence a contribution action against a third party Defendant under § 388 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law when the statute of limitations bars Plaintiff from suing that third party Defendant directly.
- Disposition: Yes. The legislature intended § 388 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to facilitate equitable contribution from all responsible entities, even when direct liability is precluded, because those entities should share the financial burden of their role in the accident.
Drattel v. Toyota Motor Corp.Decided on June 16, 1998
- Issue: Whether the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1996 expressly or implicitly preempts state common law design defect claims against automobile manufacturers for failure to include air bags in the automobile design.
- Disposition: No. The Act does not expressly prohibit such common law claims. Further, the inclusion of a savings clause indicates that Congress did not intend to completely occupy this field of law. Finally, since the plaintiff's claim did not frustrate Congressional policy objectives, no implied preemption existed.
Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. v. WilliamsDecided on June 9, 1998
2. Whether racetrack property qualifies as "specialty" property.
2. No. Racetracks are disqualified from the "specialty" property category because sales of over thirty racetracks in the United States between 1984 and 1992 prevent racetrack property from meeting the prerequisite that there be no market for the type of property at issue and no sales of property for uses such as those at issue.
People v. HidalgoDecided on June 4, 1998
- Issue: Whether a defendant who enters a plea bargain that leaves the length of her sentence to the discretion of the judge and, without limitation, waives her right to appeal, loses the right to challenge her sentence.
- Disposition: Yes. A defendant's unrestricted waiver of the right to appeal encompasses her right to review of the sentence, even if she did not know the specific sentence at the time the waiver was made.
Rooney v. TysonDecided on June 4, 1998
- Issue: Whether the language "for as long as the boxer fights professionally" in an oral contract between a fight trainer and a professional boxer constitutes employment for a definte duration.
- Disposition: Yes. This contractual language is capable of being determined and is therefore sufficient to satisfy an employment term of definite duration.
Golf v. New York State Dep't of Soc. Servs.Decided April 2, 1998
- Issue: Whether a Department of Social Services may utilize the "income first" method rather than the "resource first" method to determine the Medicaid eligibility of an institutionalized spouse.
- Disposition: Yes, a local agency is entitled to deference in its decision to utilize the income first method because the relevant statutes are ambiguous and the income first method is based on a reasonable interpretation of the statutes and is consistent with the underlying policy of the statutes.
Rizzuto v. L.A. Wenger Contracting Co., Inc.Decided March 31, 1998
- Whether the lower courts erred in concluding that as a matter of law Plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact regarding Defendant's liability under N.Y. Labor Law § 241(6) despite Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant violated its regulatory obligation to provide safe footing under N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12, § 23-1.7(d).
- Whether the lower courts erred in summarily dismissing Plaintiff's N.Y. Labor Law § 200(1) and common law negligence causes of action despite Plaintiff's evidence of Defendant's authority and control over the activity that allegedly caused Plaintiff's injury.
- Yes. Even though Defendant had no actual notice of the existence of or the potential for the diesel spill, Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant violated its regulatory obligation to provide safe footing under N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12, § 23-1.7(d) was sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact under N.Y. Labor Law § 241(6) because the statute creates a nondelegable duty on Defendant for worksite injuries due to another party's negligence.
- Yes. Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to create a triable issue of fact regarding Defendant's authority and control over the activity that allegedly caused Plaintiff's injury, thereby sustaining a cause of action under both N.Y. Labor Law § 200(1) and common law negligence.
People v. MillerDecided March 31, 1998
- Issue: Whether evidence of a prior conviction is admissible for impeachment purposes when that conviction arose from entry of an Alford plea.
- Disposition: Yes. Within the limits applicable to the admission of evidence concerning any other conviction, a defendant may be properly cross-examined for impeachment purposes about a previous conviction regardless of the fact that it arose from an Alford plea.
People v. RussellDecided February 11, 1998
- Issue: Whether adversaries in a deadly gun battle that results in the death of an innocent bystander share the "community of purpose" necessary for accomplice liability.
- Disposition: Yes, there is "community of purpose" among adversaries who intentionally aid and encourage each other to engage in mutual combat that causes the death of a bystander.
Union College v. Schenectady City CouncilDecided December 18, 1997
- Issue: Whether a municipality may enact an historic district ordinance that precludes a balancing of interests when an educational institution applies for special use permits.
- Disposition: No, a municipal law denying educational institutions the opportunity to apply for special use permits in an historic district is unconstitutional.
Johnson v. PatakiDecided December 4, 1997
- Whether the District Attorney's appeal challenging the validity of a superseder order is mooted by intervening events which include the death of the capital case defendant, the federal convictions of his accomplices, and the dismissal of state indictments against the accomplices.
- Whether Governor Pataki exceeded his constitutional and statutory authority in superseding the District Attorney's prosecution of defendant in a death eligible case.
- No, because the question of whether the Executive Order was valid was a live issue before the court. The District Attorney could have sought additional indictments against the accomplices and the Executive Order required Bronx County to pay all costs relating to the Attorney General's prosecution.
- No, the Governor was acting within his statutory authority pursuant to Article IV, § 3 of the New York state Constitution and Executive Law § 63(2).
Mastroianni v. County of SuffolkDecided December 2, 1997
- Issue: Did the existence of an order of protection, the extended contact between the police and decedent, and the decedent's justifiable reliance on the officer's affirmative undertaking on her behalf, serve to establish a special relationship between the decedent and the municipality?
- Disposition: Yes, a special relationship between the police department and the decedent arose from the circumstances that existed.
Insurance Co. of N. Am. v. ABB Power Generation, Inc.Decided November 25, 1997
- Issue: Whether New York's borrowing statute, N.Y. C.P.L.R. 202, applies to a cause of action in which all of the operative facts occur outside New York State but which, pursuant to agreement by the parties, must be arbitrated in New York.
- Disposition: Yes. Where the cause of action does not accrue in favor of a New York resident, N.Y. C.P.L.R. 202 requires a court to apply the limitation period of the foreign jurisdiction if it bars the claim.
DeJesus v. DeJesusDecided October 30, 1997
- Issue: Whether stock plans provided by a spouse's employer constitute distributable marital property where the options are granted during the marriage, but vest after dissolution.
- Disposition: Yes. Portions of unvested stock options are marital property subject to equitable distribution if the court, relying on sufficient factual evidence, finds that the options are compensation for work done during the marriage.
Raritan Dev. Corp. v. SilvaDecided October 28, 1997
- Issue: Whether appropriate interpretation of § 12-10 of New York City's Zoning Resolution permits the City to include habitable cellar space in the calculation of FAR.
- Disposition: No. The plain meaning of the Zoning Resolution is that FAR calculations do not include cellar space regardless of the intent of the use or habitability of the space.
Tenuto v. Lederle LaboratoriesDecided October 23, 1997
- Issue: Whether the duty of reasonable care that a doctor owes his infant-patient should be extended to include the infant-patient's parents.
- Disposition: Yes. A doctor has a duty to warn parents of any well-recognized danger to their immediate family resulting from treatment of infant-patient.
La Torre v. Genesee Mgmt. Inc.Decided October 21, 1997
- Issue: Whether a third-party action for negligent supervision against the parent of a developmentally disabled young person may be plead generally.
- Disposition: No. Negligence must be pleaded with reasonable specificity with respect to the knowledge and forseeability of the child's violent propensities.
Gaines v. New York State Div. of Hous. and Community RenewalDecided October 16, 1997
- Issue: Whether the judicial sale exception to carryover liability for overcharges may be applied to owners who purchased the property subsequent to a judicial sale.
- Disposition: Yes, because it is consistent with the language of the regulation and its policy underpinnings.
People v. NievesDecided July 1, 1997
- Issue: Whether the record established a substantial possibility that the officer's safety would be jeopardized, justifying the exclusion of the defendant's family members.
- Disposition: No. The court must demonstrate and document valid reasons for excluding the defendant's relatives, where the court is aware of their attendance or the defendant's desire that they attend.
American Home Assur. Co. v. International Ins. Co.Decided June 17, 1997
- Issue: Whether excess insurers can disclaim liability due to untimely notice without a showing of actual prejudice.
- Disposition: Yes. Excess insurers may disclaim liability for untimely notice without showing actual prejudice.
Getty Petroleum Corp. v. American Express Travel Related Servs. Co.Decided June 12, 1997
- Issue: Whether the "fictitious payee" rule provided in U.C.C. § 3-405 is available as an affirmative defense to non-bank depository defendants in check fraud cases.
- Disposition: Yes. U.C.C. § 3-405 is available as an affirmative defense to non-bank depository defendants provided that the defendant did not have actual knowledge of the fraud.
People v. MachadoDecided June 10, 1997
- Issue: Whether a prejudice standard applies to Rosario violations raised by CPL 440.10 motions before exhaustion of defendant's direct appeal.
- Disposition: Yes. A prejudice standard should apply to all pre-appeal Rosario violations raised by CPL 440.10 motions.
People v. TurriagoDecided May 13, 1997
- Whether the Appellate Division's finding that the consent was invalid constitutes a use of its discretionary power to review issues not preserved for appeal.
- Whether the Court of Appeals has the power to review an Appellate Division's finding on an issue not preserved for appeal.
- Whether the Appellate Division erred in rejecting as a matter of law the applicability of the inevitable discovery doctrine.
- Yes. Because the necessity of a founded suspicion of criminal activity was never expressly raised before the Supreme Court, such issue was not preserved for appeal and thus the Appellate Division's finding on the issue was pursuant to its discretionary powers. CPL 470.05; CPL 470.15.
- No. Pursuant to CPL 450.90(2)(a), the Court of Appeals does not have the power to review an Appellate Division discretionary ruling.
- Yes. The Appellate Division erred in rejecting the applicability of the inevitable discovery doctrine as a matter of law because the People established by a very high probability that the evidence would have been inevitably discovered by lawful means.
People v. Alamo Rent A CarDecided March 27, 1997
- Issue: Whether New York State's Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP) is "available insurance" within the meaning of General Business Law § 391-g.
- Disposition:Yes. Car rental companies otherwise unable to obtain commercial insurance for drivers over the age of 18 could do so through NYAIP. Consequently, car rental companies unable to obtain commercial insurance are required to purchase NYAIP insurance rather than refuse to rent vehicles to drivers over the age of 18.
People v. RobinsonDecided March 27, 1997
- Issue: Whether a defendant's constitutional right to due process requires the admission of hearsay evidence consisting of Grand Jury testimony when the declarant has become unavailable to testify at trial.
- Disposition:Yes. The Grand Jury testimony was sufficiently reliable under these circumstances to merit its admission at trial.
Soon Duck Kim v. City of New YorkDecided February 18, 1997
- Issue: Whether New York City's charter-authorized action placing sidefill on that portion of Plaintiff's land abutting a recently regraded road constitutes an unconstitutional taking of their property without compensation.
- Disposition: No. New York City's enforcement of Plaintiff's legal obligation to regrade their land does not constitute an uncompensated unconstituional taking.
Gazza v. New York State Dep't of Envtl. ConservationDecided February 18, 1997
- Issue: Whether the denial of a variance pursuant to wetlands regulation effecfts an unconstitutional taking.
- Diposition: No. There is not a compensable taking because (1) Petitioner never owned an absolute right to build on his land without a variance, and (2) Petitioner's property has not lost all, or nearly all, of its economic value.
Wetherill v. Eli Lilly & Co.Decided February 11, 1997
- Issue: Whether for purposes of the statute of limitations a plaintiff's injury is discovered upon manifestation of physical symptoms or upon recognition of the connection between the symptoms and plaintiff's exposure to toxic substances.
- Disposition: An injury is "discovered" and the statute of limitations begins to run, when the injured party manifests symptoms of the primary condition upon which the claim is based.
Douglaston Manor, Inc. v. BahrakisDecided February 11, 1997
- Issue: Whether ownership of a riverbed in non-tidal navigable-in-fact waters entitles the owner to exclude the public from fishing in the effected portion of the river.
- Disposition: Yes. The New York Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division and reinstated the order of the New York Supreme Court, holding that the public may be excluded from fishing in the privately owned portion of a riverbed.
Sinker v. SweeneyDecided February 6, 1997
- Issue: Whether New York Labor Law § 593(4) precludes unemployment benefits where the claimant is convicted of a felony neither against the employer nor in the course of employment.
- Disposition: Yes. A felony is "in connection with" for the purposes of N.Y. Labor Law § 593(4) if it results in breach of an express or implied duty the claimant owes the employer.
Haggerty v. HimeleinDecided February 6, 1997
- Issue: Whether the Attorney General's Office can assist a district attorney in a criminal case without an executive order.
- Disposition: Yes. The Attorney General's Office can assistin a criminal case without an executive order when the district attorney retains ultimate prosecutorial power.
People v. RamirezDecided December 20, 1996
- Issue: Whether a defendant may be sentenced to consecutive prison terms on the basis of a single act which constitues more than one criminal offense.
- Disposition: No. The New York Court of Appeals found such sentencing violative of Penal Law §70.25(2), which limits a court's discretion to impose consecutive sentences for the same criminal acts which constitute multiple offenses.
Funk v. BarryDecided December 19, 1996
- Issue:Whether the 60-day limit for the submission of proposed judgments for signature contained in section 202.48 applies where the court's decision contains no direction to submit or settle the order.
- Disposition: No. The 60-day limit applies only to proposed judgments where the court directs the order to be settled or submitted on notice before it is entered.
Lunding v. Tax Appeals TribunalDecided December 18, 1996
- Issue: Whether a state tax statute that denies nonresidents a full personal deduction for alimony survives Privileges and Immunities scrutiny.
- Disposition: Yes. It survives because residents must pay income tax on their worldwide income while nonresidents pay only on their New York income. Additionally nonresidents' alimony payments are wholly linked to activities outside the state.
Weiner v. Lenox Hill Hosp.Decided November 19, 1996
- Issue: Whether a plaintiff's claim against a hospital alleging that the hospital failed to adequately safeguard the blood supply from HIV contamination sounds in medical malpractice or negligence for the purpose of selecting the applicable statue of limitations.
- Disposition: The three year statute of limitations, under N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. § 214-c (McKinney 1990), is proper for a claim against a hospital for allegedly failing to adequately screen and test blood for HIV/AIDS virus. Since the challenged conduct was not linked to a particular patient but to the hospital's general duty of care, the claim sounds in negligence, not medical malpractice.
Brown v. State of New YorkDecided November 19, 1996
- Whether the Court of Claims has subject matter jurisdiction over constitutional tort claims or is limited to common law tort actions.
- Whether Petitioners state causes of action upon which they may recover damages from Respondent.
People v. KnowlesDecided October 22, 1996
- Issue: Whether a trial judge commits reversible error when it arbitrarily interferes with an attorney-client relationship.
- Disposition: Yes. Holding that a trial judge commits reversible error when it arbitrarily interferes with an attorney client relationship, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division.
Tekni-Plex v. Meyner & LandisDecided October 22, 1996
- Whether long-time counsel for the seller corporation and its sole shareholder may continue to represent the shareholder in a subsequent dispute with the buyer.
- Whether the attorney-client privilege as to pre-merger communications transfers to the buyer.
- No. When buyer continues the pre-existing business operation the buyer displaces the seller corporation, and former shareholder; the buyer controls the attorney-client privilege in matters concerning the company's operation.
- Yes. The control of the privilege for all pre-merger communications transfers to the buyer.
New York City Transit Auth. v. New York, Executive Dep't, Div. of Human Rights & Mary MyersDecided October 22, 1996
- Whether N.Y. Executive Law §296(10)(a) applies to labor organizations.
- Whether a collective bargaining agreement's seniority provision forecloses the possibility of an employer accomodating an employee's Sabbath observance requirement.
- No. New York Executive Law R167;296(10)(a) encompasses only employer's conduct because "labor organizations" and "employers" are defined separately in the Human Rights Law and only the term "employer" is used in §296(10)(a). Accordingly, the Court of Appeals determined that Myers discrimination charges against the union should have been dismissed.
- No. An employer must prove that it made a good faith effort to accomodate an employee's Sabbath observance requirments despite any provisions contained in the collective bargaining agreement. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals upheld the finding of the Appelate Division regarding the Transit Authority with costs to Myers against the Transit Authority.
Guice v. Charles Schwab & Co.Decided October 17, 1996
- Issue: Whether civil damage claims based on common law agency standards of disclosure in the practice of order flow payments are preempted by SEC regulations promulgated under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.
- Disposition: Yes. SEC regulations preempt state law in the case of order flow payments, which have been analyzed to be a cost beneficial practice. The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division, dismissed the complaint, and answered the certified question in the negative.
Dawson v. White & CaseDecided October 17, 1996
- Whether goodwill is a distributable asset of a partnership?
- Whether upon dissolution accounting an unfunded pension plan, which the partnership did not treat as a liability, is a liability of the partnership.
- Yes. Goodwill is an asset unless the partnership agreement deems it of no value and the course of dealing of the partners confirms the status.
- No. If the partnership does not treat the unfunded pension plan as a liability in its financial statements, the partners cannot later claim it as such.
Cahill v. RosaDecided October 15, 1996
- Issue: Whether private dental offices are places of "public accomodation" within the meaning of the Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 292(a) (McKinney 1996)?
- Disposition: Yes. Private dental offices are "places of accomodation." The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division.
Juarez v. Wavecrest Management Team Ltd.Decided July 2, 1996
- Issue: Whether a landlord must receive actual or constructive notice of the residency of a child under age seven in order to be obligated to remedy a dangerous lead paint condition.
- Disposition: Yes. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the lower court's granting of Plaintiff's summary judgment motion.
Symphony Space, Inc. v. Pergola Properties, Inc.Decided June 13, 1996
- Whether the New York statutory Rule Against Perpetuities applies to commercial options.
- Whether New York courts should adopt a "wait-and-see-approach" with respect to the Rule Against Perpetuities.
- Yes. The Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities, which extends to the full limit of the traditional common law Rule Against Perpetuites, applies to commercial options.
- No. The Court rejects the "wait-and-see-approach."
Griffin v. CoughlinDecided June 11, 1996.
- Issue: Whether an inmate's expanded visitation privileges may be conditioned upon mandatory participation in a substance abuse rehabilitation program based on the religious-oriented practices of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Disposition: No. Petitioner's mandated attendance at the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Program (ASAT Program) and the lack of a non-religious alternative violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The order of the Appellate Division is reversed, and Petitioner's participation in the Family Reunion Program cannot be conditioned on his continued attendance at the ASAT Program as long as the program contains a religious component.
Adams v. New York Transit Auth.Decided May 2, 1996
- Issue: Whether a common carrier is liable to passengers for the torts of its employees committed outside the scope of employment.
- Disposition: No. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's dismissal of Plaintiff's cause of action and overruled the 1882 holding of Stewart v. Brooklyn & Crosstown R.R. Co.
People v. McNairDecided April 4, 1996
- Issue: Whether electronic monitoring for the purpose of public safety and surveillance is a statutorily authorized condition of probation.
- Disposition: No. Only a condition of probation that is fundamentally rehabilitative will be upheld regardless of its punitive or deterrent effects. Electronic monitoring for the purpose of public safety and surveillance is not fundamentally rehabilitative.
Archbishop Walsh High Sch. v. Section VI of the N.Y. State Pub. High Sch. Athletic Ass'n, Inc.Decided April 2, 1996
- Issue: Whether Section VI denied Archbishop Walsh equal protection of the laws by conditioning membership in the Athletic Association upon a majority of votes from member schools.
- Disposition: No, Archbishop Walsh High School was not denied equal protection of the laws because Section VI had a rational basis for instituting the special requirements for the membership of non-public schools into the Athletic Association.
People v. PageDecided April 2, 1996
- Issue: Whether, pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 270.35, the court must obtain, regardless of the defendant's oral consent, written consent from the defendant for the substitution of a juror during deliberations.
- Disposition: Yes. Order of the Appellate Division reversed, with order for a new trial.
Davis v. BrownDecided March 28, 1996
- Issue: Whether a criminal defendant may specifically limit a mistrial motion to one for a mistrial with prejudice.
- Disposition: Yes. Judgment of the supreme court and appellate division reversed with costs, and Petitioner's writ of prohibition granted.
Gernatt Asphalt Prods., Inc. v. Town of SardiniaDecided March 28, 1996
- Whether a town violates Town Law §§ 264(1) and 265(1) and Municipal Law § 239-m, related to a referral and public notice, when it enacts some, but not all, of the amendments proposed at a town meeting.
- Whether the New York State Mined Land Reclamation Law supercedes a town's authority to amend its zoning ordinance, eliminating mining as a permitted use throughout the town.
- Whether a town enacts impermissible exclusionary zoning requirements by excluding specific industrial uses of land.
- Whether a town violates the State Environmental Quality Review Act by hastily identifying and examining relevant areas of environmental concern related to the proposed action and providing a reasoned elaboration for its final decision.
- Whether a town violates the Open Meetings provisions of the Public Offciers Law by enacting a subset of proposed amendments during the closed executive session.
- No. Adoption of a subset of proposed amendments, when the recipients of notices and referrals were advised of the amendments, comports with various notice and referral requirements.
- No. New York's Mined Land Reclamation Law specifically exempts local zoning enactments from its scope.
- No. Although municipalities may not zone to exclude people within specific socioeconomic groups, they may exclude industry.
- No. If the board makes such a reasoned deliberation, SEQRA imposes no further procedural limitations upon the board.
- No. The town did not draft new legislation during its executive session, and thus did not violate the Open Meetings Law.
People v. LaureanoDecided March 26, 1996
- Issue: Whether Penal Law § 70.25(2) requires that defendant be sentenced to concurrent sentences for manslaughter in the first degree and robbery in the first degree when the same act caused the victim's serious injury (constituting a material element of robbery in the first degree) and his death (constituting the crime of manslaughter).
- Disposition: A split Court of Appeals modified the Appellate Division's order and held that the defendant's sentence for first degree manslaughter should run concurrently with his sentence for first degree robbery.
Tropea v. TropeaDecided March 26, 1996
- Issue: Whether in granting the custodial parents' requests to relocate the lower courts gave proper weight to a non-custodial parent's right of meaningful access and a child's best interests.
- Disposition: Both decisions of the Appellate Division were upheld. The best interest of the child is to be the predominant factor in these cases.
Brooke Group Ltd. v. JCH Syndicate 488Decided March 21, 1996
- Issue: Whether the "Service of Suit Clause" in question constitutes a mandatory forum selection clause, requiring defendants to litigate the dispute in a New York forum, and precluding dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds.
- Disposition: No. The SSC does not require defendants to litigate the dispute in New York. Order of the Appellate Division (affirming dismissal under forum non conveniens) affirmed, with costs.
Parma Tile Mosaic & Marble Co. v. ShortDecided February 20, 1996
- Issue: Whether New York's general Statute of Frauds' subscription requirement is satisfied by the automatic imprint of the sender's name at the top of each page transmitted by a fax machine.
- Disposition: The Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division's order, denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, granted defendant MRLS Construction Corporation's cross-motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the claim against MRLS Construction Corporation.
Matter of Y.K. (Anonymous)Decided February 15, 1996
- Issue: Whether a defendant, when confronted with deadly physical force may respond with deadly physical force to defend herself, if she cannot safely exercise her duty to retreat.
- Disposition: Yes. A unanimous court decided that defendant, when confronted with deadly physical force, was justified in responding in like manner because she could not retreat safely.
A.J. Temple Marble & Tile, Inc. v. Union Carbide Marble Care, Inc.Decided February 13, 1996
- Issue: Whether § 691(3) of the General Business Law imposes joint and several liability on all persons affiliated with a franchisor who has violated the Act, regardless of whether their conduct materially aided the violation.
- Disposition: Yes. The certified question --whether the order of the Appellate Division, affirming the order of the New York State Supreme Court was properly made-- is answered in the negative. The "materially aids" language of the statute applies to all of the statutorily enumerated persons. Judgment of the Appellate Division modified, without costs, and affirmed as modified.
Graby v. GrabyDecided February 8, 1996
- Issue: Whether Social Security disability benefits paid to children, on the basis of a non-custodial parent's disability, should be included as income of that parent and credited against that parent's support obligation.
- Disposition: Judgment of Family Court and order of the Appellate Division brought up for review reversed, with costs; and June 1, 1993 order Family Court, Yates County, reinstated. Certified question not answered on the ground that the judgment of the Family Court from which leave was granted determined the proceeding.
Matter of DelanyDecided February 8, 1996
- Issue: Whether the Appellate Division may impose a final sanction on an attorney who has been convicted of serious crimes as defined by Judiciary Law § 90(4)(d), even though a final judgment of conviction for those crimes has not been rendered.
- Disposition: No. A final sanction may not be imposed absent a judgment of conviction for a serious crime. Order of the Appellate Division imposing final sanction of disbarment reversed.
People v. SmithDecided February 8, 1996
- Issue: Whether a defendant who waives the privilege against self-incrimination and testifies before a Grand Jury opens himself or herself to cross-examination regarding unrelated, pending, criminal charges.
- Disposition: A divided Court held that a defendant who testifies before a Grand Jury retains the right against self-incrimination regarding unrelated, pending, criminal charges during cross-examination.
Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. v. MarinoDecided December 28, 1995
- Issue: Whether the New York State Constitution requires a bill passed by both houses of the Legislature to be presented to the Governor.
- Disposition: Yes. Order reversed, with costs, and judgment granted declaring the practice of retaining bills that have passed both houses of the Legislature prospectively unconstitutional.
Dalton v. Educational Testing Serv.Decided December 7, 1995
- Issue: Whether ETS exercised a good faith effort to comply with the procedures specified in its contract with Brian Dalton.
- Disposition: The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division, holding that ETS breached its contract with Brian Dalton. The remedy is the specific performance of a good faith compliance with ETS's stated procedures, not the release of the questioned scores ordered by the lower courts.
People v. MillerDecided December 7, 1995
- Issue: Whether the strict liability component of first degree robbery, which requires that the defendant cause serious physical injury to a non-participant, prevents the people from charging attempted first degree robbery.
- Disposition: The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case to the Appellate Division for further proceedings in accordance with the opinion.
Denny v. Ford Motor Co.Decided December 5, 1995
- Whether the strict products liability claim and breach of implied warranty claims are identical;
- Whether, if the claims are different, the strict products liability claim is broader than the implied warranty claim and encompassess the latter;
- Whether, if the claims are different and a strict liability claim may fail while an implied warranty claim succeeds, the jury's finding of no product defect is reconcilable with its finding of breach of warranty.
- No, the claims are not identical.
- No, a strict products liability claim does not encompass implied warranty claims.
- Yes, the jury's finding is reconcilable.
Rothstein v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.Decided November 30, 1995
- Issue: Whether the reasonable discovery rule of CPLR 214-c applies when actual exposure occurred prior to 1986 and discovery occurred after 1986. The Appellate Division certified the following question to the Court of Appeals: "Was the opinion and order of this Court dated October 3, 1994, properly made?" The decision in question reversed the Supreme Court's dismissal of the complaint.
- Disposition: Order affirmed, with costs, and certified question answered in the affirmative.
People v. AllenDecided November 2, 1995
- Issue: Whether a defendant may waive the right to appeal based on a double jeopardy claim, under N.Y. Const. art. I, § 6, as a condition of a valid plea agreement.
- Disposition: Yes. Order Affirmed.