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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

Recent New York Cases of Interest

Vanegas v City of New York

Defendants Request Access to Plaintiff's Social Media Accounts, Court Grants Motion to Compel Disclosure of Relevant Evidence within 20 Days
  • Defendants filed a post-note of issue motion to preclude the Plaintiff from offering any evidence at trial or alternatively for an Order to compel the Plaintiff to provide access to certain records in her social media accounts.

  • The request for discovery is governed by 22 NYCRR 202.21, which requires either vacating the note of issue within 20 days or demonstrating “unusual or unanticipated circumstances: substantial prejudice” absent additional discovery.

  • CPLR 3101 (a) allows disclosure of all necessary material in defense/prosecution of lawsuit and Courts have discretion whether to allow the information sought.

  • Upon investigation, Defendants found a photograph on Plaintiff's public social media account depicting her in a harness with helmet indicating a trip was taken after filing note of issue.

  • Defendants made sufficient showing on limited access only to Facebook posts from date of accident to present showing physical activities relevant to claim.

  • Court granted motion and ordered Plaintiff provide requested authorizations within 20 days.

  • Practice Area: Personal Injury | Date filed: 2023-08-09 | Court: Supreme Court, New York | Judge: Justice James G. Clynes | Case Number: 154772/2020

Leyro v Gospel Spreading Assn.

Summary: Court Denies Motion to Sever but Grants Motion to Compel Discovery
  • Gospel Spreading Association and Gospel Spreading Church, Inc. (collectively known as the "Church") filed a third-party complaint against The City of New York ("the City"), seeking monetary damages for plaintiff's personal injuries allegedly sustained from tripping and falling on the sidewalk abutting 210-220 West 145th Street on October 17, 2019.

  • The City argued that it was substantially prejudiced by lack of discovery received to date, including no preliminary conference order or case scheduling order having been produced; no bill of particulars, medicals, or photographs; and no review of the voluminous discovery record.

  • The Church opposed the motion to sever on grounds that doing so would result in inefficient fragmentation of proceedings and possible inconsistent verdicts; additionally, they argued that the City has willfully failed to engage in discovery over its 517-day engagement with this action.

  • Court denied the City's motion to sever proceedings but granted their motion to compel all parties to provide and proceed with discovery prior to commencement of trial, as it would be prejudicial for them otherwise given their unfamiliarity with underlying facts in this case.

  • Practice Area: Personal Injury | Date filed: 2023-08-08 | Court: Supreme Court, New York | Judge: Justice J. Machelle Sweeting | Case Number: 150682/2020

Knight v. New York and Presbyterian Hospital

Venue Change Should Have Been Denied; Agreements' Validity Not Established
  • The case in question involves a dispute over the venue for a personal injury claim brought by the son of an elderly woman who fell and fractured her hip while under the care of several defendants, including Dewitt Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Inc. The plaintiff sought to hold the defendants accountable in New York County, where his mother resided and where the defendants operated. However, Dewitt sought to change the venue to Nassau County based on forum selection clauses contained in admission agreements that the decedent allegedly executed with Dewitt.

  • In its motion to change venue, Dewitt relied on the affidavit of its Director of Admissions, Francesca Trimarchi, who attested to the facility's practice of having a representative meet with residents to review and personally witness the signing of admission agreements. Trimarchi provided copies of the admission agreements allegedly signed by the decedent, each bearing a Docusign signature purporting to be that of the decedent. However, the plaintiff disputed the authenticity of the signatures, submitting an exemplar of his mother's signature that did not match the Docusign signatures.

  • Despite the plaintiff's objections, the Supreme Court granted Dewitt's motion to change venue, finding that the forum selection clause was applicable and enforceable and that the plaintiff had failed to raise any issues of fact as to the authenticity of the signatures. The court noted that the burden of proving the existence, terms, and validity of a contract rested on the party seeking to enforce it, but found that Dewitt had met its burden in this case.

  • The case illustrates the importance of properly authenticating electronic signatures and the challenges faced by parties seeking to challenge forum selection clauses in the absence of evidence of fraud or overreaching. While the plaintiff in this case argued that the Docusign signatures were not authentic, he failed to produce any evidence to support this claim beyond his own familiarity with his mother's signature. As a result, the court was able to rely on the forum selection clauses to shift the venue to Nassau County, potentially making it more difficult for the plaintiff to pursue his claim.

  • Practice Area: Civil Procedure, Personal Injury | Industry: Health Care | Date filed: 2023-08-10 | Court: Appellate Division, First Department | Judge: Justice Lizbeth González | Case Number: 805224/21

Yan v. Kalikow Mgmt. Inc.

To Compel Hurt Plaintiff to Provide Authorization Would Extend 'Aron' Without Warrant

  • The defendants in a personal injury case sought to conduct an informal, ex parte interview with a physician assistant who treated the plaintiff. The defendants wanted to ask the physician assistant about a statement made by the plaintiff regarding the cause of her accident. The defendants argued that they were entitled to an authorization to conduct the interview pursuant to Arons v. Jutkowitz (9 NY3d 393). However, the Supreme Court denied that branch of the defendant's motion which was to compel the plaintiff to provide an authorization. The court determined that compelling the plaintiff to provide such an authorization would constitute an unwarranted extension of the Court of Appeals’ holding in Arons v. Jutkowitz. The defendants appeal, but the court holds that the Supreme Court properly denied their motion. The court finds that the inconsistent statement in the medical record prepared by the physician assistant with respect to the cause of the accident was not a sufficient reason to compel the plaintiff to provide an Arons authorization. The court explains that the scope of Arons authorization is limited to a plaintiff's medical condition and that the Court of Appeals did not intend to include interviews related to the cause of the injury within its decision in Arons v. Jutkowitz.

Practice Area: Discovery, Personal Injury, Premises Liability

Date filed: 2023-07-12

Court: Appellate Division, Second Department

Attorneys: for plaintiff: For Respondent: Anne Marie Bossart and Charles Martin Arnold of counsel, Lerner, Arnold & Winston, LLP, New York, NY.; for defendant: For Appellants: Mischel & Horn, P.C., New York, NY [Scott T. Horn and Nicholas S. Bruno], of counsel, Margaret G. Klein.

Judge: Justice Joseph J. Maltese

Case Number: 2022-07112

JL v. Rockefeller Univ.

Negligent Hiring Claims Survive Against Hospital for Doctor's Alleged Abuse of Minor
  • The Rockefeller University Hospital in New York is facing a lawsuit filed by a former patient who claims to have been sexually abused by a former doctor employed by the hospital from 1957 to 1966. The plaintiff, who was a child at the time, alleges that the hospital failed to act despite knowing about the doctor’s conduct. The hospital has filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff has not presented evidence that the hospital was on notice at the time of the alleged abuse and that some of the claims are misplaced.

  • The plaintiff in the case alleges that he was repeatedly sexually abused by Dr. Reginald Archibald during his visits to the hospital from the ages of seven to sixteen. Dr. Archibald, who died in 2007, was a respected physician and a pediatric endocrinologist at the hospital for many years. However, it has since been revealed that he conducted research on children without informed consent and sexually abused his young patients. The plaintiff claims that the hospital knew or should have known about Dr. Archibald’s misconduct but failed to take any action to prevent it.

  • The hospital has filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff has not presented evidence that the hospital was aware of Dr. Archibald’s conduct at the time of the alleged abuse. The hospital also argues that some of the claims made by the plaintiff, such as fraud and assault, are misplaced or duplicative. The motion further states that the statute of limitations has expired on some of the claims.

  • The plaintiff’s complaint alleges that the hospital was negligent in hiring and retaining Dr. Archibald and that their failure to act allowed him to continue to abuse children for many years. The complaint also alleges that the hospital engaged in fraud by misrepresenting Dr. Archibald’s credentials to the public and that the hospital intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the plaintiff. The lawsuit seeks damages for the harm suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the abuse and for the hospital’s alleged negligence.

  • The case raises important questions about the legal responsibility of hospitals and other institutions to protect vulnerable patients from abuse and mistreatment. Hospitals have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure the safety of their patients, especially children who may be particularly vulnerable to abuse. The case also highlights the challenges faced by victims of abuse who may be hesitant to come forward or may not be believed when they do.

  • The lawsuit against the Rockefeller University Hospital for the alleged sexual abuse of a former patient by a former doctor has raised significant legal and ethical questions about institutional responsibility for protecting vulnerable patients. While the hospital has argued that the plaintiff has not presented evidence that the hospital was on notice of the abuse at the time, the case highlights the broader issue of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of patients in healthcare settings. The outcome of the case will have implications for future cases and for the broader healthcare community.

  • Practice Area: Personal Injury Date filed: 2023-05-25 Court: Supreme Court, New York Judge: Justice Alexander M. Tisch Case Number: 950131/2020


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