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Pre-answer motion does not circumvent right to effectuate a 3217 discontinuanceJune 17, 2017

Harris v Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy LLP, 2017 NY Slip Op 04970 (4th Dept. 2017)

“We conclude that the notices of discontinuance were not untimely because a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211 is not a “responsive pleading” for purposes of CPLR 3217 (a) (1). A motion pursuant to CPLR 3211 does not fall within the meaning of a “pleading” as defined by CPLR 3011. Rather, a “motion” is defined in the CPLR as “an application for an order” (CPLR 2211). Indeed, the terms “responsive pleading” and “motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211” are not used interchangeably in the CPLR but, rather, are treated as distinct, separate items. For instance, CPLR 3211 (d) provides that, under certain circumstances, “the court may deny the [CPLR 3211] motion, allowing the moving party to assert the objection in his responsive pleading” ([emphasis added]). Likewise, CPLR 3211 (e) provides that, “[a]t any time before service of the responsive pleading is required, a party may move on one or more grounds set forth in [CPLR 3211 (a)].” It is clear from the language used throughout the CPLR that the Legislature did not intend a CPLR 3211 motion to be considered a “responsive pleading.”

So many practitioners just do not understand CPLR 3217.   I have seen where a party, seeing life was not going his way, wrote a letter to the judge that the matter is hereby discontinued, the motion is moot etc.  This cavalier attitude permeates this profession.

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