Articles Posted in New York City

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In an action in which a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County, was entered, Inter alia, granting plaintiff and defendant a divorce, defendants appeal from an order of the same court, dated July 27, 1978, which, upon plaintiff’s motion, “resettled and clarified” the judgment of divorce, by (1) amending and reducing defendant H’s visitation privileges, and (2) amending a provision whereby plaintiff would be responsible for certain hospitalization expenses incurred by defendant.

By judgment of the Supreme Court, plaintiff, Mr. H, and defendant Mrs. H were both granted a divorce. That judgment awarded temporary custody of the couple’s son to plaintiff. Mrs. H was to have visitation on the first, second and fourth weekends of each month, as well as on certain other days. The judgment further provided as follows:

“ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED, that the plaintiff will pay any hospitalization fees in the event that the defendant is committed to a psychiatric hospital by a duly certified psychiatrist; that the plaintiff’s attorney shall receive a doctor’s prescription of the defendant’s need and a further copy furnished to this Court”.

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This is an action by an infant wife for separation on the grounds of cruelty and nonsupport, in which the defendant husband asserted a counterclaim for separation on the ground of abandonment, a judgment was entered in the Supreme Court, on May 18, 1959, after trial, in favor of the defendant, dismissing the complaint, granting him a separation on his counterclaim, awarding custody of their child to plaintiff, with visitation rights to the defendant, and directing the defendant to pay plaintiff $35 per week for the child’s support.

By order dated June 24, 1959 such judgment was resettled so as to define specifically defendant’s visitation rights. By order dated July 10, 1959 such judgment was amended by adding three provisions: (1) enjoining plaintiff from taking the child out of the City of New York; (2) directing plaintiff to make the child available to the defendant during the periods prescribed for his visitation; and (3) suspending defendant’s obligation to make payments for the support of the child in the event that, and as long as, plaintiff should frustrate defendant’s visitation rights by keeping the child out of New York City.

Plaintiff by her guardian ad litem now appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, which, inter alia: (1) denied her motion for a counsel fee and expenses to prosecute her appeal from said resettled amended judgment and for an award of $35 a week for the child’s support during the pendency of such appeal; (2) granted defendant’s motion to award custody of the child to him, to hold plaintiff in contempt for violating the judgment with respect to defendant’s visitation rights, and to stay plaintiff from all proceedings (excepting appeals) as long as she continues to violate said judgment and the order appealed from; and (3) further modified the resettled amended judgment by awarding custody of the child to defendant, by prescribing plaintiff’s visitation rights and by enjoining plaintiff from taking the child out of said City.

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In early December 1971, JR was the grantee of public assistance for the benefit of her four children in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) category. All five lived in a home in Levittown, New York, which was then owned by Mrs. JR and her former husband as tenants in common.

On December 21, 1971, Mr. JR sold his interest in the home to Mrs. JR’s parents for $9,700. Representatives of the Nassau County Department of Social Services, present at the sale, took $2,600 of the proceeds to satisfy a debt for prior public assistance issued to the family. Mrs. JR then, as part of the whole transaction, conveyed her own one-half interest in the home to her parents for no proven consideration, and she continued to live in the home with the children.

On January 15, 1972, the Nassau County Department of Social Services discontinued AFDC assistance arguing that Mrs. JR violated Social Services Law and Regulations by transferring a valuable asset without consideration. That determination was affirmed by the New York State Department of Social Services in a decision after a hearing dated April 25, 1972.

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Plaintiffs commenced the within declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that the emergency rule is null and void, ultra vires and unconstitutional, as a taking of property without just compensation. The complaint also alleges that the rule violated Real Property Law § 226-b which regulates the assignment of leases; Real Property Law § 235-f which creates a right of occupancy but not leasehold rights for roommates; Domestic Relations Law § 11 which sets out the requirements and means for the solemnization of a marriage; and the administrative limitations in the Omnibus Housing Act of 1983, and the State Administrative Procedure Act.

By order to Show Cause dated November 13, 1989 plaintiffs moved in Supreme Court, Albany County, for a preliminary injunction enjoining the implementation of the emergency rule. An order to show cause was granted, which restrained the DHCR from “implementing or effectuating said Emergency Rule, or in any other manner promulgating, issuing, implementing or effectuating the terms, conditions or requirements thereof,” but made the motion returnable in Supreme Court, New York County.

On November 15, 1989, counsel for the plaintiffs and the DHCR entered into a stipulation which provided that the November 13, 1989 Order to Show Cause would not be construed to preclude the DHCR from taking ministerial actions necessary to comply with the procedures required for the promulgation of the regulatory amendments, which are the subject of this action, such as the filing of required Regulatory Impact Statements and Regulatory Flexibility Analyses with the Secretary of State. On December 13, 1989, the New York County IAS Court heard argument, and again extended the TRO pending determination of the preliminary injunction motion. During oral argument on the motion, the Court was informed that the DHCR was in the process of promulgating permanent regulations and had already sent out notices that a public hearing was scheduled for January 22, 1990.

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The petitioner filed the instant petition seeking an order of child support against the respondent. A hearing was held with respect to the petitioner’s application. The petitioner’s application is denied.

On April 1, 2002, the petitioner, Frances W., filed a petition against the respondent, Steven M., seeking support for her niece, Melissa M., who is the daughter of the respondent. The support petition was originally dismissed on September 24, 2002 by a hearing examiner in Queens Family Court. By order of a judge of the Queens Family Court, however, the order of dismissal was vacated on November 13, 2002 and the matter remanded back to the hearing examiner to enter a temporary order of support in accordance with Family Court Act § 434 and for further proceedings. On March 13, 2003, that same Family Court judge stayed the proceedings on the support petition until such time as a court enters an order providing for temporary or permanent custody or guardianship of the subject child. As a result, there is no temporary order of support in place as to the instant petition.

Following a custody hearing that lasted almost two years, Referee Ebrahimoff, in a very carefully considered decision, dated May 20, 2005, reluctantly recommended custody to Ms. W. 1 The matter was then referred to Judge Guy DePhillips, who confirmed the Referee’s findings of fact and issued a final order of custody to Ms. W. for reasons stated on the record and based on the child’s wishes and without prejudice to the issue of the child’s emancipation as delineated in the referee’s report. The matter was then administratively assigned to this court to decide the issue of child support. The court is called upon to decide the following issues: (1) whether, given her conduct toward both the respondent and Melissa, the petitioner should be awarded support on behalf of the child and (2) whether Melissa has abandoned her father, thus relieving Mr. M. of his child support obligation.

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This Article 78 proceeding raises the questions whether (1) the County Commissioner of Social Services has discretion as a matter of policy and without regard to the facts of the particular case to refuse a special grant to an aid to dependent children recipient who claims that she and the children are destitute because cash has been stolen from her and (2) whether the proceeding can be maintained as a class action.

The petition alleges that petitioner is the mother of four children, that she receives public assistance in the category of Aid to Dependent Children, that on July 31, 1971 she received a check issued by the Department of Social Services in the amount of $398.00 which she cashed at the bank where she spent $3.00, putting the remaining $395.00 in an envelope in her pocketbook, that she went to the laundromat and then back to the bank and when she sought to pay for the purchases then made could not find the envelope or the money, that she reported her loss to the Department of Social Services and the police, that she was told by the Department that nothing could be done, that its failure to act on petitioner’s request results from its policy of refusing to give emergency aid or to duplicate stolen checks, that without the issuance of a duplicate grant of $395.00, petitioner and her children face exhaustion of their food supply and eviction from their rented home.

CPLR 7804(e) directs that ‘The body or officer shall file with the answer a certified transcript of the record of the proceedings under consideration, unless such a transcript has already been filed with the clerk of the court. The respondent shall also serve and submit with the answer affidavits or other written proof showing such evidentiary facts as shall entitle him to a trial of any issue of fact.’ Despite those explicit and mandatory provisions and despite the fact that Article 78 procedure ‘is exactly analogous to summary judgment’, respondent has contented himself with serving an answer denying some allegations, denying others on information and belief, and raising four affirmative defenses, but has filed neither transcript nor answering affidavit.

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The motion (seq. No. 1) by the attorney for the Third-Party Defendant County of Nassau (the County) for an order pursuant to CPLR 3212 granting Summary Judgment dismissing the Third-Party complaint and all cross-claims against the County of Nassau is granted. Cross-motion (seq. No. 2) by the attorneys for JEF for an order pursuant to CPLR §3212 granting Summary Judgment to the Defendant JEF and severing and dismissing the complaint and all cross-claims and counterclaims against said Defendant, on the ground that JEF is not individually liable for the torts or breach of contract, if any, of his co-Defendant F & F, P.C., of which Defendant JEF was at all relevant times president and sole shareholder is granted.

NS was born at Nassau County Medical Center on December 25, 1983. A medical malpractice action was commenced on her behalf against the County in 1984. JS, the mother of the Plaintiff who retained F & F, P.C. (F&F) to represent her daughter in the medical malpractice action died on April 1, 1992 during the pendency of the lawsuit. Letters of Administration were issued to JS’s daughter, MS, who was substituted as Plaintiff in the malpractice suit on behalf of the Estate of JS. The malpractice action was settled for $450,000 in 1993. Pursuant to the terms of the infant’s compromise orders (ICO) dated June 2, 1994 and modified January 31, 1995 the County was to issue a check payable to an officer of Defendant ML for the benefit of NS in the amount of $299,500.00 ($450,000.00 less attorney’s fees) and other disbursements. The funds ($299,500.00) were to be deposited by ML in investment accounts for the benefit of NS. Although the County timely issued the check in July 1994, sent it to F&F, who forwarded it to ML, the instrument was never cashed, and no account ever established. The original check was never negotiated or presented for payment. ML returned the original check to F&F with a request that an amended or modified ICO be obtained, to specify that the infant NS’s grandmother EMD (with whom the infant was living in Alabama) be identified as custodian of the infant’s account, and authorize ML to pay income taxes on behalf of the infant on the interest earned. F&F obtained a modified ICO in the malpractice action on January 31, 1995. An attorney working on an “of counsel” capacity for F&F on the malpractice action, forwarded a copy of the modified ICO to EMD, on February 5, 1999 and wrote to ML on February 6, 1999, enclosing the original and modified ICO’s and the check dated July 21, 1994 in the sum of $299,500. ML received the July 21, 1994 check in the sum of $299,500, but failed to open the infant account pursuant to the modified ICO or notify any of the parties that the check was missing.

Subsequent thereto, on or about February 26, 1996, ML engaged the services of the Locator Services Group, Ltd. (Locator) to recover the settlement check. Locator discovered that the original check was uncashed. Locator entered into an agreement with ML, dated February 6, 1996, to act on its behalf to recover the funds. In addition, ML granted Locator a Limited Power of Attorney. Locator then allegedly contacted F&F, P.C. to obtain information regarding NS and contracted with EMD the guardian of NS, to act on her behalf regarding the missing funds. Locator then allegedly contacted the County. After Locator and ML satisfied the County that the original check had not been cashed, the County issued a replacement check in the sum of $299,500.00 payable to ML for the benefit of NS. On June 24, 1996, Locator deposited $269,550 in a money market account, in trust for NS, after deducting a $29,950 service fee.

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In a case that is one of first impression, this court is confronted with two novel questions: does the attorney confidential privilege survive the death of the client? And, if indeed the privilege does survive, under what circumstances, if any, may the court pierce through the veil of confidentiality?

The defendant, AV, was indicted on January 15, 2002 by a grand jury of the County of Nassau, New York, for the death of RH. The charges are murder in the second degree as an intentional act under Penal Law § 125.25 (1), and murder in the second degree under circumstances involving a depraved indifference to human life under Penal Law § 125.25 (2). The crime predates the 1995 statutory amendments to the Penal Law, and as such is not a capital offense.

The incident is alleged to have occurred on or about October 28, 1979. In the early morning hours of that day, at the Club Bar on Rockaway Avenue in Valley Stream, Nassau County, New York, the defendant, AV, DC and RH had been talking and drinking at the tavern. After several hours, they left at approximately the same time. Shortly thereafter, Hogan was found stabbed and bleeding to death outside of the bar. AV vanished and was not located by Nassau County law enforcement officers until September 2001.

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This Civil Court action involves a dispute over legal fees that span a period of nearly eight (8) years. The deterioration of the attorney-client relationship and the legal action that ensue, often reveal acts and omissions by both parties that requires judicial intervention and scrutiny.

The particulars of this dispute unfolded in this sequence of events. The Plaintiff is the senior attorney in a law office and is admitted to practice law in the State of New York. The Defendant, is a resident of the State of New Jersey. Based on the record the fiancé of the Defendant referred her to the law office for legal representation based on the fact that the aforementioned law office had successfully defended him in his divorce action. According to the parties, the parties participated in a meeting at the law office where the parties discussed the legal action proposed by plaintiff to remove tenants from a residential apartment in Brooklyn.

It this stage, it is appropriate to divulge the factual history of a divorce action between defendant and her former spouse in the State of New Jersey. The factual history as presented by plaintiff in documentary evidence admitted as Court Exhibit “1” disclose these facts. In or about August 7, 2002, defendant filed for a divorce against her husband in the Superior Court of New Jersey in the Chancery Division of the Family Part in Bergen County, New Jersey. Issue was joined by the service and filing of the Defendant’s answer in or about November 3, 2002.

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This is a case where a motion was brought by the Deputy County Attorney’s Office, on behalf of the Nassau County Department of Social Services, seeking to have the Court direct the respondent to submit to DNA testing for the purpose of establishing paternity of the subject child. Both the respondent and law guardian submitted opposition papers invoking the doctrine of equitable estoppel, arguing that the child has an intact father-child relationship with another individual.

This matter was initiated when the Department filed a petition for paternity and support against respondent. The Magistrate presided, and referred the matter to this Court once the issue of equitable estoppel was raised.

The doctrine of equitable estoppel may be used in a variety of family law matters including custody, visitation, support and, as here, paternity. Regardless of whether it is being used in an offensive posture to enforce rights or a defensive posture to prevent rights from being enforced, it is only to be used to protect the best interests of the child or children involved. Id. Herein, the respondent and law guardian seek to invoke the doctrine in an defensive posture, seeking to prevent respondent from having to take a DNA test.

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