NY Commercial Division Blog

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Patterson Belknap’s Commercial Division Blog covers developments related to practice and case law in the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court.  The Commercial Division was formed in 1993 to enhance the quality of judicial adjudication and to improve efficiency in the case management of commercial disputes that are litigated in New York State courts. Since then, the Division has become a leading venue for judicial resolution of high-stakes and every-day commercial disputes.  This Blog reviews key developments in the Commercial Division, including important decisions handed down by the Commercial Division, appellate court decisions reviewing Commercial Division decisions, and changes and proposed changes to Commercial Division rules and practices.  Our aim is to provide you with thoughtful and succinct analysis of these issues. The Blog is written by experienced commercial litigators who have substantial practices in the Commercial Division.

The Importance of Proper Notice in Defending Against Yellowstone Injunctions

In Ronald Benderson 1995 Trust v. Erie County Medical Center Corporation, Justice Walker of the Erie County Commercial Division granted Plaintiff’s request for a Yellowstone injunction where the defendant landlord provided a faulty notice of default to the plaintiff tenant.  This decision highlights the importance of proper notice in order to successfully defend against a Yellowstone injunction.

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Commercial Division Dismisses Claims Alleging Monopoly Control Over Waste Services Market in Capital Region

In Cty. Waste & Recycling Serv., Inc. v. Twin Bridges Waste & Recycling, LLC, Justice Platkin of the Albany County Commercial Division Court considered plaintiffs’ (County Waste and Recycling Service, Inc. (“County Waste”),  Robert Wright Disposal, Inc.(“Wright Disposal”), and third-party defendants Waste Connections, Inc. and Waste Connections US, Inc. (“Waste Connections”)), joint motion under CPLR 3211(a)(7) and (8) to dismiss the Amended Counterclaims and Third-Party Complaint (“ACTC”) of defendant Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling, LLC (“Twin Bridges”).  Justice Platkin’s opinion touches on various issues concerning anti-competitive behavior in New York State, as well as personal jurisdiction.

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New York State Unified Court System Issue Request for Comment On New Commercial Division ESI Rules

On September 7, 2021, the New York State Unified Court System published a request for comment on proposed additional rules and guidelines for Electronically Stored Information (“ESI”).  According to the proposal, “[t]he goal of the revisions is to address e-discovery in a more consolidated way, modify the rules for clarity and consistency, expand the rules to address important ESI topics consistent with the CPLR and caselaw, and to provide further detail in Appendix A – Proposed ESI Guidelines than is practical in the Commercial Division Rules.”

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Commercial Division Decision Suggests Insurers May Struggle to Enforce Anti-Assignment Clauses in Prior-Incurred Loss Cases

In Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. AT&T Corp.,[1] Justice Cohen of the New York County Commercial Division Court granted a motion for partial summary judgment and determined that Nokia, through its predecessor Lucent, had the right by assignment to seek coverage under certain insurance policies issued to AT&T that contained anti-assignment clauses.  Although the general rule in New York is that such anti-assignment clauses are enforceable, this decision highlights how it can be more challenging to bar assignment in the special context of an insurance policy.

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Recent Commercial Division Decision Provides a Refresher on Common Statutes of Limitation Issues

Recently, in F.W. Sims, Inc. v. Simonelli, Index No. 022942/2014, Doc. No. 412 (Sup. Ct., Suffolk Cnty., May 7, 2021), the Commercial Division Court denied a motion to dismiss on statute of limitation as well as full faith and credit grounds.  This decision provides a good refresher on common limitations period issues that arise in commercial cases and is also an example of the impact, or lack thereof, of a settlement in a related matter.

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Defendant’s Unsuccessful About-Face Results in $5 Million Judgment

Litigants arguing that their adversary should be judicially estopped from pursing a particular position in litigation face a relatively high burden to invoke the doctrine successfully.  Two recent decisions from Justice Borrok help illustrate the specific circumstances under which courts are most likely to estop a litigation pursuant to this doctrine.

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CDAC Rule Proposal to Loosen Requirements To Become A Neutral Evaluator Still Pending

On December 4, 2020, the Administrative Board of the Courts sought public comment on the Commercial Division Advisory Council’s (“CDAC”) proposed amendment to Commercial Division Rule 3(a), 22 NYCRR § 202.70(g). The current language of Rule 3 permits the court to direct, or for counsel to seek, the appointment of an uncompensated mediator for the purpose of mediating a resolution of all or some issues presented in the litigation  The CDAC’s Rule 3(a) proposal would “permit the use of neutral evaluation as an [alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”)] mechanism and to allow for the inclusion of neutral evaluators in rosters of court-approved neutrals.”  Currently, under Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge, “neutral evaluation” is “a confidential, non-binding process in which a neutral third party (the neutral evaluator) with expertise in the subject matter relating to the dispute provides an assessment of likely court outcomes of a case or an issue in an effort to help parties reach a settlement.”  The Chief Administrative Judge’s rules already set forth the training prerequisites to become a neutral evaluator.

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Commercial Division Rules Expanded to General Civil Practice in New York Effective February 1, 2021

Administrative Order 270/2020—which adopts certain Commercial Division Rules into the Uniform Civil Rules for the Supreme Court in New York—went into effect on February 1, 2021.  In signing this order, Chief Judge Marks described the Commercial Division as “an efficient, sophisticated, up-to-date court, dealing with challenging commercial cases” that “has had as its primary goal the cost-effective, predictable and fair adjudication of complex commercial cases[.]”  Further, he acknowledged the Commercial Division’s role in dealing with the “unique problems of commercial practice,” and praised its “function[] as an incubator, becoming a recognized leader in court system innovation, and demonstrating an unparalleled creativity and flexibility in development of rules and practices[.]”

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NY Lenders May Face Barriers In Real Estate Dispositions

As the country entered into an extended period of lockdowns this spring, there was widespread concern that the anticipated severe economic impact of the pandemic would lead to a wave of defaults and foreclosures in the commercial real estate market.
 

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