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. It is edited and managed by Stephen P. Younger and Muhammad U. Faridi, who spearheaded the publication of the New York Commercial Division Practice Guide, which is part of Bloomberg Law's Litigation Practice Portfolio Series.

Advisory Council Proposes a Series of Commercial Division Rule Changes

The final month of summer has seen a flurry of rulemaking activity with the Commercial Division Advisory Council (the “Advisory Council”) proposing four changes to the Commercial Division Rules. The Office of Court Administration has requested public comment on each proposal, and we will provide an update if any of the proposed amendments are adopted.

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Bronx County Commercial Division Begins its Inaugural Term on September 3, 2019

At her annual State of the Judiciary speech held on February 26, 2019 at Bronx County Supreme Court, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that the Commercial Division will be expanding to Bronx County, effective April 1, 2019.  On August 4, 2019, the Bronx County Supreme Court designated the Honorable Eddie McShan, who is a Supreme Court Justice from Bronx County, as the Commercial Division Justice presiding over the newly-created Part 32 beginning September 3, 2019.  The Honorable Kenneth L. Thompson will handle the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) component.

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A Fond Farewell to Two of the Commercial Division’s Most Senior Judges

The arrival of the new year is a bittersweet time for the Commercial Division as it bids farewell to two of its most senior judges: Justice Charles E. Ramos and Justice Eileen Bransten.  Notably, both will be staying on to serve the Court as Judicial Hearing Officers.

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First Department Rules that Arbitrators Did Not Manifestly Disregard the Law and Confirms Arbitration Award

On September 27, 2018, in a widely followed arbitration case, a unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, First Department concluded that the New York County, Commercial Division (Ramos, J.) erred when it partially vacated an arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrators’ disregarded the law.  As a result, the Appellate Division confirmed the arbitration award. [1]

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Commercial Division Finds Foreign Corporations Lack Sufficient Contacts with New York for Personal Jurisdiction

On July 5, 2018, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the Commercial Division granted a motion to dismiss by All Nippon Airways, Co. Ltd., ANA Aircraft Technics, Co., Ltd., ANA Base Maintenance Technics, Co., Ltd., ANA Holdings, Inc., and All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (collectively “ANA”) in Kyowa Seni, Co. v. ANA Aircraft Technics Co.[i], ruling that the Court lacked both general and specific jurisdiction over ANA.

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Alter Ego Claim Survives Pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss on an Equitable Ownership Theory

On July 2, 2018, Justice Barry R. Ostrager of the Commercial Division denied a motion to dismiss by UMG Recordings, Inc. (“Universal”), an alter ego theory of liability against it in Aspire Music Group, LLC v. Cash Money Records, Inc., concluding that Aspire sufficiently alleged that Universal was the equitable owner of Cash Money to survive the pre-answer motion to dismiss.

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Court of Appeals Rules: What the “Value of His Interest in the Partnership” Means under New York Partnership Law

The New York Court of Appeals, in Congel v. Malfitano,[1] recently ruled that the “Poughkeepsie Galleria Company” (the “Partnership”) was not an at-will partnership and that therefore Defendant Marc Malfitano’s (the “Defendant”) unilateral dissolution of the partnership breached the partnership agreement.  In addition, under Section 69 of the New York Partnership Law, the Court sustained the Appellate Division’s valuation of the Defendant’s partnership interest, including application of a minority discount.  The Court modified the order on appeal, holding that the Second Department erred in awarding legal fees in contravention of the American Rule on attorneys’ fee awards.

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Second Department Finds Commercial Tenants Can Waive Their Right to a Yellowstone Injunction

On January 31, 2018, the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed, in a 3-1 decision, the Kings County Supreme Court Commercial Division’s decision, denying 159 MP Corp. and 240 Bedford Ave Realty Holding Corp.’s (collectively the “Tenants”) motion for a Yellowstone injunction.  The case raised an issue of first impression for New York appellate courts: whether a written lease provision that expressly waives a commercial tenant’s right to declarative relief is enforceable at law and as a matter of public policy.  The Second Department ruled in the affirmative for both.

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Special Proceeding Seeking a Judicial Decree to Dissolve an LLC

In Advanced 23, LLC v. Chambers House Partners, LLC, No. 650025/2016, 2017 BL 462831 (NY. Sup. Ct. Dec. 15, 2017), Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the Commercial Division ruled that Advanced 23, LLC (“Advanced”) and David Shusterman’s (“Shusterman” and collectively, “Petitioners”) petition for judicial dissolution of Chambers House Partners, LLC (“CHP”) needed to be held in abeyance pending an evidentiary hearing on whether Shusterman had breached his duties under the Operating Agreement. Advanced 23 confirms that although a corporate deadlock is not an independent ground to dissolve an LLC, the court must still examine whether the managers’ disagreement breaches the managers’ obligations under the LLC operating agreement.

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