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.

New York’s Chief Judge Announces Proposal to Restructure State Court System

New York’s Chief Judge Janet DiFiore issued a press release on September 25, 2019 announcing proposed amendments to the New York State Constitution that would streamline and simplify the State’s Unified Court System.  The Chief Judge’s proposal calls for the elimination of “New York’s complex maze of 11 separate trial courts” and would “replace it with a simplified three-level structure to make the courts easier to navigate, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs to litigants, among other potential benefits.”  If successful, these structural changes would represent the first major Constitutional changes to court system organizations since reforms were passed over 40 years ago in 1977. These changes are also likely to affect the Commercial Division parts because, if adopted, they have the potential of increasing the overall efficiency of the state court system and the way judges are appointed to the Appellate Division.  These reforms, in turn, would likely help shape the development of commercial law in the State.

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Commercial Division Declines to Certify Class and Approve Settlement in Xerox-Fuji Case

There has been a new development in the Xerox and Fujifilm (“Fuji”) litigation:  Justice Ostrager of the New York Commercial Division declined to (i) certify the putative class, (ii) approve the proposed class settlement, and (iii) award the class attorney’s fees pursuant to a memorandum of understanding that was reached by defendant Xerox and putative class plaintiffs.  The material terms of this agreement—changes to the Xerox Board of Directors—already took effect prior to the Justice Ostrager ruling.

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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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Commercial Division Dismisses Shareholder Derivative Suit Because General News Reports and Articles Were Insufficient to Plead Demand Futility with Particularity

Before filing a shareholder derivative suit, the plaintiff must typically serve a pre-litigation demand upon the company’s Board of Directors, except in narrow circumstances where the demand may be futile.  In Gammel v. Immelt, Justice Andrea Masley of the New York Commercial Division dismissed the shareholder derivative suit because the plaintiff did not meet the pre-litigation demand requirement and failed to plead with particularity the circumstances establishing the futility exception.

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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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First Department Confirms Award of Attorney’s Fees, But Vacates Damages Award for Counterclaim as Non-Arbitrable

On July 2, 2019, the First Department, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Dianne T. Renwick, reversed a decision of former Commercial Division Justice Eileen Bransten confirming an arbitration award.  The First Department concluded that the arbitrator’s award of attorney’s fees was not in manifest disregard of New York law, but that the arbitrator did not have jurisdiction over counterclaims brought by a related-third-party pursuant to an agreement that did not contain an arbitration clause.   The opinion provides a helpful review of New York law regarding both the award of attorney’s fees in arbitration and on jurisdictional objections to arbitration.

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Commercial Division Asserts its Role in Securities Litigation

In Hoffman v. AT&T Inc., Justice Ostrager of the Commercial Division recently denied a motion to stay a securities class action in favor of a subsequently filed and more comprehensive action brought in the Southern District of New York (SDNY).  In doing so, he asserted the Commercial Division’s role in securities litigation following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver Cty. Emps. Ret. Fund, 138 S. Ct. 1061 (2018).    

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Commercial Division Holds That Electronic Communications Between Out-of-State Defendant and New York-Based Company Can Support the Exercise of Personal Jurisdiction Over Defendants in New York

In High Street Capital Partners, LLC v. ICC Holdings, LLC, Justice Joel M. Cohen of the Commercial Division denied defendants ICC Holdings, LLC (“ICC”) and related entities’ (collectively, “Defendants”) motion to dismiss plaintiff High Street Capital Partners, LLC’s (“High Street”) action for breach of contract for lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens.  The court’s decision addressed issues of whether electronic communications between an out-of-state defendant and a New York-based company are sufficient to satisfy the requirements of New York’s long-arm statute and render New York a convenient forum.

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New York Announces Statewide “Presumptive” Alternative Dispute Resolution Program

On May 14, 2019, the New York State Unified Court System announced that it will begin rollout and implementation of a “presumptive” alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) program.[1]  Under the new program, parties in civil cases will be referred to either mediation or some other form of ADR as an initial step for most lawsuits filed in New York State courts.  The “presumptive” ADR program will apply to a broad range of civil cases, including commercial disputes.

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Commercial Litigation Update: First Department Drops Down to Four-Justice Panels for Arguments

Beginning in April 2019, the First Department has changed its practice to assign panels of four justices for oral argument, as opposed to five justices as has been the traditional practice of the court.  This change is the result of three ongoing vacancies on the First Department that have remained unfilled by Governor Cuomo.  The Presiding Justice of the First Department, Hon. Rolando Acosta, explained that the move to four justice panels is necessary because there are not enough judges to hear all the pending appeals.  Aware that four justice panels could create a two-to-two split, Presiding Justice Acosta explained that a fifth judge can be brought in to issue a decision if needed.  Parties can preserve their right to reargue or submit the case to a fifth justice by making a statement on the oral argument record.  This change will likely remain in place until new judges are appointed to the court. 

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Commercial Division: Past, Present and Future - New York City Bar Association Program

On Monday February 26, 2019, four retired Justices of the Commercial Division, New York County – Justices Ellen Bransten, Shirley Kornreich, Charles Ramos, and Melvin Schweitzer – took the stage at the New York City Bar to discuss the past, present and future of the Commercial Division, as well as their own experiences on the court.  The discussion was moderated by retired Justice Carolyn Demarest of the Commercial Division, Kings County. 

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Non-Party to Arbitration Agreement Successfully Petitions the Commercial Division to Avoid Being Compelled to Join Arbitration

Arbitration is a matter of contract and, as such, non-parties generally cannot be compelled to arbitrate under agreements that they have not signed or agreed to.  In IQVIA RDS Inc. v. Eisai Co. Ltd., the Commercial Division recently highlighted two exceptions to this general rule.  Although the Court ultimately found neither exception to be applicable, the case raises important issues that merit attention.

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Commercial Division Amends Rule 3 to Encourage Mediation

On December 5, 2018, New York’s Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence K. Marks, issued an administrative order amending Commercial Division Rule 3(a), which addresses alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”).[1]  This new amendment encourages opposing counsel to work together to select a mediator for commercial cases, including by consulting rosters of neutral mediators provided by Commercial Division courts. 

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Corporate Officer Escapes Corporate-Capacity Fraud Claims in Alleged Ponzi Scheme Case in Commercial Division

Coast-to-Coast-Energy-Inc-v-Ga.pdfIn corporate fraud suits, it is common for plaintiffs to file claims against executives in their capacity as corporate officers.  However, to succeed on a corporate-capacity claim, a plaintiff must be able to show that the corporate veil should be pierced so as to hold an officer personally liable for the corporation’s legal obligations.  This issue is illustrated by the Commercial Division’s recent decision in Coast to Coast Energy, Inc. v. Gasarch.

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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 Holds that Declaratory Judgment Against Creditor’s Principal Does not Preclude Claims By the Creditor Itself

Can a debtor obtain declaratory judgment shielding himself from liability to a creditor’s officers or associates personally and then use that judgment to preclude subsequent claims by the creditor itself?  Not in the First Department, following the recent decision in Avilon Automotive Group v. Leontiev.[i]  In Avilon, a unanimous panel reversed the res judicata-based dismissal of fraudulent transfer and other related claims arising from several Russian loan transactions because the claims by the creditors themselves were not the subject of a prior declaratory judgment concerning the debtor’s liability to the creditors’ representative.Avilon_Auto._Grp._v._Leontiev.pdf

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Commercial Division Issues Verdict for Plaintiffs Following Bench Trial in Family Feud Over the Palm Restaurant

On November 13, 2018, Justice Masley issued a decision following a bench trial in Ganzi v. Ganzi,[1] which concerns a family feud over the Palm Restaurant empire.  Ganzi provides a vivid illustration of the importance of observing corporate formalities, the need to be vigilant for self-dealing when shareholders hold ownership interests in multiple intertwined businesses, and, of course, the pitfalls of mixing family and business.

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Compelling Arbitration under CPLR § 7503(a): Timing Matters

To commence a special proceeding to compel arbitration in New York, pursuant to CPLR § 7503(a), a party must be “aggrieved by the failure of another to arbitrate.”  In KPMG LLP v. Kirschner, Justice Barry R. Ostrager recently ruled that to be “aggrieved,” and thereby have standing, a party must be subject to litigation before filing a special proceeding to compel arbitration.  According to the Court, a subsequently filed litigation or the risk of potential litigation is not sufficient to confer standing. 

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Release from the 1970s Forecloses Family’s Suit to Reclaim Art Lost During the Holocaust

So ruled Justice Andrea Masley of the Commercial Division in a recent summary judgment motion in the case Frenk v. Solomon, Index No. 650298/2013, holding that a standardized form release signed by the plaintiff’s mother in 1973 to settle a case primarily involving one piece of artwork barred the plaintiff’s present suit to recover other pieces of art that were believed lost at the time of the 1973 settlement.

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Commercial Division Holds That Venue Is Proper Even Though Plaintiff Is Wrong About Defendants' Residence

In 2017, the New York legislature amended CPLR 503(a) to provide for venue in “[(1)] the county in which one of the parties resided when it was commenced; [(2)] the county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred; or, [(3)] if none of the parties then resided in the state, in any county designated by the plaintiff.”   Before the amendment, CPLR 503(a) did not provide for venue based on where the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.

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New Commercial Division Rule Encourages Pre-Trial Evidentiary Hearings or Immediate Trial on Dispositive Issues

On July 25, 2018, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts, Lawrence K. Marks, issued an administrative order promulgating Rule 9-a of the Commercial Division Rules. See 22 N.Y.C.R.R. 202.70.  The Rule, entitled “Immediate Trial or Pre-Trial Evidentiary Hearing,” encourages parties to move for a pre-trial evidentiary hearing or immediate trial on factual issues that could resolve a material part of the case. 

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The Commercial Division Gets a New Rule on Technology-Assisted Review in Discovery

On July 19, 2018, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts, Lawrence K. Marks, issued an administrative order promulgating a new subdivision of Rule 11-e of the Commercial Division Rules. Rule 11-e governs Responses and Objections to Document Requests, and the newly added subdivision specifically addresses the use of technology-assisted review in the discovery process. 

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Court Denies Attachment in Case Involving Exiled Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui

Since high net worth individuals often operate and own assets through LLCs and other business entities, including foreign corporate entities, a plaintiff must satisfy the requirements of a veil-piercing claim in order to attach assets owned by such entities.  Failing to do so could frustrate a plaintiff’s ability to satisfy a judgment, as illustrated by Commercial Division Justice Barry Ostrager’s recent decision in Pacific Alliance Asia Opportunity Fund L.P. v. Kwok Ho Wan.

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Commercial Division Finds Jurisdiction over Foreign Defendant on an Alter Ego Theory in Estate’s Action to Recover Painting Plundered in Nazi-Occupied France

In a decision issued last month in Gowen v. Helly Nahmad Gallery, Inc., No. 650646/2014, 2018 NY Slip Op 28142, 2018 BL 164601, Commercial Division Justice Eileen Bransten found personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants in an action brought by the estate of a Jewish art dealer to recover a valuable painting plundered by the Nazis in occupied Paris.  Justice Bransten further held that New York’s substantive law applies to the dispute over the painting’s ownership, proclaiming that “New York markets are not now, and shall not become, a safe harbor for the fruits of property pillaged during the course of the Nazi genocide.”  Beyond its compelling subject matter, the opinion provides useful guidance for plaintiffs considering pleading jurisdiction over non-domiciliary defendants on an alter ego theory.

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Broadway Producers Denied Motion to Set Aside Damages Verdict against Former Publicist

In Rebecca Broadway LP v. Thibodeau, Justice Andrea Masley of the Commercial Division denied plaintiff Rebecca Broadway Limited Partnership’s (“RBLP”) motion to set aside a damages verdict after it prevailed at trial against Defendant Marc Thibodeau (“Thibodeau”) on claims for breach of contract and tortious interference with business relationships.[1] The case raised issues of whether a jury’s damages verdict is supported by a rational interpretation of the trial evidence and the circumstances under which a retrial solely on the issue of damages is appropriate.

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Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets Damages Limited to Plaintiff’s Losses Under New York Law

When a defendant avoids the cost of developing its own technology by stealing proprietary information, can that defendant be required to re-pay the cost it saved as compensatory damages?  Not under New York trade secret or unfair competition law.  In E.J. Brooks Co. v. Cambridge Security Seals,[1] a divided New York Court of Appeals announced – over a lively dissent – that compensatory damages for misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition are limited to the plaintiff’s own losses, and may not include the development costs avoided by defendants.  The Court further held that an accompanying claim for unjust enrichment does not provide a basis to expand the recovery beyond the plaintiff’s own losses.

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Commercial Division Holds That Agreement That Specifies Dilution as Remedy for Failure to Make Capital Call Prohibits Plaintiff from Seeking Monetary Damages

Operating agreements often specify dilution as the remedy for a failure to make a capital contribution.  But what if your business partner fails to make a contribution and you’d rather have the capital than an increased ownership share? If the agreement only provides for dilution as a remedy, can you still sue for monetary damages? In Oneiric Holdings LLC v. Leonelli,[1] Justice Marcy Friedman held that under Delaware law, the answer to this question is an unambiguous “no.”

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Cost-Effective and Time-Efficient Commercial Litigation in New York's Commercial Division

In a new, practical, on-demand CLE webcast from our partner Bloomberg BNA, Commercial Division Blog authors Stephen P. Younger, Muhammad U. Faridi, and Benjamin F. Jackson provide in-house counsel and litigators in private practice with advice on how to litigate commercial disputes in New York state court with an eye...
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Business Judgment Rule Applies to a Board’s Response to Take “All Necessary Actions”

What legal standard applies to assess a corporate board’s refusal to pursue litigation in response to a shareholder’s demand to take “all necessary actions” to correct alleged director misconduct?  In Solak v. Fundaro,[i] Commercial Division Justice Charles Ramos applied the business judgment rule to such a situation, holding that a request to take “all necessary actions” constitutes as a shareholder demand under Rule 23.1 of the Delaware Chancery Court Rules and that a derivative plaintiff must plead particularized facts showing gross negligence or bad faith to proceed with a derivative claim following a board’s refusal to take the demanded action.

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Corporation Denied Motion to Enjoin Arbitration against its Alleged Alter Ego

In Royal Wine Corp. v. Cognac Ferrand SAS, Justice Andrea Masley of the Commercial Division denied Plaintiff Royal Wine Corporation’s (“Royal”) motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin arbitration that defendant Cognac Ferrand SAS (“Cognac”) initiated against Royal’s alleged alter ego, Mystique Brands, LLC (“Mystique”).[i] The case raised the issue of whether a non-party to an arbitration agreement has standing to assert defenses on behalf of an alleged alter ego while nevertheless denying the alter ego relationship.

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Advisory Council Proposes a Series of Commercial Division Rule Changes Aimed at Enhancing the Efficiency of Commercial Litigation

In a wave of rulemaking activity over the past week, the Office of Court Administration opened public comment on three significant changes to the Commercial Division Rules proposed by the Commercial Division Advisory Council.  The proposed rule changes would affect three major phases of commercial litigation: document discovery, evidentiary hearings, and motion practice.  Each proposed rule change aims at enhancing the efficiency with which parties litigate in the Commercial Division.

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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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How “Similar” is Similar Enough for New York Law to Trump a Choice-of-Law Provision?

In WL Ross & Co. v. Storper, a recent Commercial Division decision involving the private equity firm founded by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Justice Andrea Masley suggested that New York courts can disregard choice-of-law provisions if the law of the state specified by the choice-of-law provision is “substantively similar” to that of New York on the topic at issue.  Attorneys who routinely draft agreements that contain choice-of-law provisions would do well to take note of this decision, as it may imply that more careful attention should be paid to such provisions when New York law is best avoided for strategic reasons.

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Stealing Data Without Depriving the Owner of Access Does Not Amount to Conversion

New York recognizes conversion claims based on intangible property, such as electronically stored information or trade secrets.[1]  But does a conversion claim exist when the theft of the intangible property does not deprive the rightful owner of unfettered access to the property (i.e., when the owner retains an original or accurate duplicate of the information)?  This was the question presented to the Commercial Division recently in MLB Advanced Media, L.P. v. Big League Analysis, LLC.[2]  In that case, Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich held that a conversion claim is not available unless the plaintiff’s use of or access to the property is disturbed.

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Top 10 New York Commercial Division Cases and Developments of 2017

In 2017, the New York Commercial Division continued to implement new rules and refine existing rules in order to streamline litigation in the court.  The year also saw some key decisions by the Commercial Division as well as appellate courts reviewing Commercial Division cases that developed an area of commercial law or applied existing law to a new or interesting set of facts.  We covered all of these developments in this blog.  We present here brief summaries of the most salient Commercial Division rule changes and cases from 2017 with links to our blog posts that provide more in-depth coverage.

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Commercial Division Dismisses Derivative Lawsuit After Board Rejects Shareholder Demand

The decision to bring a lawsuit on behalf of a corporation is entrusted to the corporation’s board of directors.[1]  A shareholder may not maintain a derivative lawsuit on behalf of a corporation without first making a demand on the board to bring the suit or pleading that it would be futile to make such a demand.[2]  On October 18, 2017, Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich of the New York Commercial Division dismissed a derivative lawsuit because the shareholder failed to allege that the defendant corporation’s board of directors acted in bad faith or with gross negligence when it rejected the shareholder’s demand.  Reese v. Andreotti, No. 654132/2016, 2017 BL 391404, at *10 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 18, 2017).

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When Can an Outside Attorney Serve as a Special Litigation Committee in an LLC Derivative Suit? When the Parties’ Contract Says So, Says First Department

In a decision handed down on August 15, 2017, by the New York Appellate Division First Department, the court endorsed the practice of the appointment of a Special Litigation Committee (SLC) by a limited liability company (LLC) “at least where explicitly contemplated” by the LLC’s operating agreement. However, where the operating agreement does not explicitly provide for such an appointment or otherwise evince intent to delegate core governance functions to a nonmember, the LLC cannot appoint an SLC that has authority over a major decision of the LLC.

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Commercial Division Reprimands Lawyer for Misconduct in Deposition

On August 25, 2017, Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich of the New York Commercial Division entered an order reprimanding a high-profile lawyer, Mark Geragos, for misconduct during a deposition, including refusing to answer questions in violation of the court’s explicit instructions.  Gottwald v. Sebert, No. 653118/2014, 2017 BL 303419 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 25, 2017).

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Commercial Division Analyzes Choice-of-Law on an Element-by-Element Basis in Upholding Claim for Aiding and Abetting Breach of Fiduciary Duty

In Wantickets RDM, LLC v. Eventbrite, Inc., No. 654277/2016, 2017 BL 261099 (Sup. Ct. Jul. 21, 2017), New York Commercial Division Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich denied defendant Eventbrite’s motion to dismiss plaintiff Wantickets’ claims for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims.  In doing so, she applied Delaware law to assess plaintiff’s allegations of an underlying breach of fiduciary duty and New York law to the remaining elements.[1]

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Commercial Division Declines to Use New York Debtor and Creditor Law to Enjoin a Defendant’s Asset Sale Without Evidence of Inadequate Consideration

In Del Forte USA, Inc. v. Blue Beverage Group, Inc. et al., No. 518454/2016, 2017 BL 253248 (Sup. Ct. Jul. 17, 2017), New York Commercial Division Justice Sylvia G. Ash denied plaintiff Del Forte’s preliminary injunction motion that sought, pursuant to N.Y. Debtor and Creditor Law (“DCL”) § 279, to enjoin defendant Blue Beverage from selling 60% of Blue Beverage’s shares to co-defendant Kuzari Group for $5 million unless $500,000 is placed in escrow and a receiver is appointed.  As an alternative form of relief, Del Forte sought, pursuant to CPLR § 6201, to attach at least $500,000 from the asset sale to satisfy a judgment that might be rendered in Del Forte’s favor.

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Commercial Division Considers Creating Large Complex Case List

A specialized list for blockbuster commercial cases in New York’s Commercial Division is under consideration.  If designated as a Large Complex Case on the “Large Complex Case List,” the case will be subject to enhanced case management procedures designed to efficiently handle the matter.  The proposal is subject to public comment.  The Administrative Board of the Courts has requested that comments be submitted by Tuesday, July 25, 2017.  If the proposal is adopted, the Large Complex Case List will be piloted in New York County.

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Commercial Division Flags Novel Issue of Reasonable Reliance In LLC Member Battle

In PMC Aviation 2012-1 LLC et al. v. Jet Midwest Group, LLC et al., No. 654047/2015, BL221447 (Sup. Ct. Jun. 21, 2017), Commercial Division Justice Shirley Kornreich denied a motion to dismiss a fraudulent inducement claim by an LLC member against its business partner.  The court found that it could not find any “controlling, on-point authority” on the issue of reasonable reliance at issue in the case. The case relates to the scope of due-diligence obligations of LLC members when they rely upon the representations of business partners concerning the affairs of a jointly owned company.

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Commercial Division Partially Vacates ICC Arbitration Award in Artificial Sweetener Dispute

Justice Charles Ramos of the New York Commercial Division partially vacated an International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) arbitration award in a major legal battle between artificial sweetener giants NutraSweet and Daesang.  Daesang Corp. v. The NutraSweet Co., et al., No. 655019/2016, 2017 BL 164971 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 15, 2017).  The partial vacatur sends what was a $100,766,258 award in favor of Daesang back to the arbitral tribunal.

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The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Will Need To Wait Another Day In The Commercial Division

Justice Shirley Kornreich recently issued one of the few New York state court decisions  that address the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”).  Spec Simple, Inc. v. Designer Pages Online LLC,  No. 651860/2015, 2017 BL 160865 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 10, 2017).  The CFAA criminalizes both accessing a computer without authorization and exceeding authorized access and thereby obtaining information from any protected computer.  Id. at *3 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C)). The CFAA also provides a civil cause of action to any person who suffers damage or loss because of a violation of the CFAA.  Id. at *4 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1030(g)).  As discussed below, the decision provides a helpful look into the interpretation of CFAA claims in the future.

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When is a Working Capital Agreement a Loan? It Depends on Your Claim.

Suppose you’ve entered into a financial arrangement that resembles a lending agreement, but it is not formally designated as such, and you think you’re paying too much.  Do you (a) sue for misrepresentation, on the grounds that you thought you were entering into a lending agreement and not some other kind of an agreement, or (b) sue on the theory that the agreement is a lending agreement, but it is usurious and therefore unlawful?

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Two Commercial Division Rulings Put Payday Further Out of Reach for Russian Businessman

Justice Anil Singh of the New York Commercial Division recently issued two decisions related to the long-running litigation between Russian businessmen Alexander Gliklad and Michael Cherney.  Gliklad v. Deripaska, No. 652641/2015, 2017 BL 137121 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Apr. 25, 2017); Moquinon Ltd. v. Gliklad, No. 650366/2017, 2017 BL 137162 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Apr. 6, 2017).  Both decisions dealt setbacks to Gliklad’s ability to collect after winning a $385 million judgment.

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Commercial Division Dismisses Claim Against Major Chinese Securities Firm Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

In Lantau Holdings, Ltd. v. Orient Equal International Grp., No. 653920/2016, 2017 BL 77469 (Sup. Ct. Mar. 6, 2017), Judge Anil C. Singh of the New York County Commercial Division dismissed several claims by the plaintiff, Tarrytown-based lender Lantau Holdings, Ltd. (“Lantau”), against defendant Haitong International Securities Company Limited (“Haitong”), a member of the Haitong Group, one of China’s largest securities businesses. 

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Commercial Division allows fraudulent conveyance claims to proceed in two separate cases

In a pair of recent decisions, Justices Shirley W. Kornreich and Lawrence K. Marks of the Commercial Division ruled that creditors could proceed on their fraudulent conveyance claims seeking reversal of asset transfers made by debtors under New York’s Debtor and Creditor Law (“DCL”).  The decisions highlight two basic theories of fraudulent conveyance claims permitted by the DCL:  intentional fraud claims, which require a showing that the debtor made the transfer with the intent defrauding its creditor, and constructive fraud claims, which do not require a showing of fraudulent intent.

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First Department Allows $45 Million Fraud Claim to Proceed Against Patriarch Partners

In Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v. Tilton, No. 651695/15, 2017 BL 55790 (App Div, 1st Dep’t Feb. 23, 2017), a divided panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed a Commercial Division order that denied a motion to dismiss a $45 million fraud claim against Lynn Tilton, Patriarch Partners LLC (“Patriarch”), and two Patriarch affiliates, stemming from their management of two collateralized debt obligation (“CDO”) funds.  Justices Richard T. Andrias and David B. Saxe dissented in part, opining that the majority should have dismissed the fraud claim as time-barred because the plaintiffs-investors were on notice of the alleged fraud more than two years before they filed suit. 

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