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CPLR 2004 offers some relief to the dreaded Civil Kings motion stipAugust 7, 2017

Calderone v Molloy Coll., 2017 NY Slip Op 05932 (2d Dept. 2017)

(1)

On June 4, 2015, the return date of the NCAA’s motion, the plaintiff attempted to file a stipulation signed by the NCAA’s counsel, [*2]among others, agreeing to adjourn the return date and extend the plaintiff’s time to submit opposition papers. Later on June 4, 2015, the Supreme Court rejected the stipulation and marked the NCAA’s motion fully submitted without opposition. That night, the plaintiff’s counsel e-filed the opposition papers with the court. Four days after the return date, on June 8, 2015, the plaintiff moved, in effect, pursuant to CPLR 2004 to extend his time to submit opposition papers to the NCAA’s motion. The NCAA did not oppose the plaintiff’s motion. In an order dated June 25, 2015, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion on the ground that he failed to follow the motion schedule set by the court’s rules

(2)

CPLR 2004 provides that, “[e]xcept where otherwise expressly prescribed by law, the court may extend the time fixed by any statute, rule or order for doing any act, upon such terms as may be just and upon good cause shown, whether the application for extension is made before or after the expiration of the time fixed.” In considering a motion for an extension of time, “the court may properly consider factors such as the length of the delay, whether the opposing party has been prejudiced by the delay, the reason given for the delay, whether the moving party was in default before seeking the extension, and, if so, the presence or absence of an affidavit of merit” (Tewari v Tsoutsouras, 75 NY2d 1, 12; see Matter of Village of Haverstraw v Ray Riv. Co., 137 AD3d 800, 801).

Here, the plaintiff established good cause for an extension of his time to submit opposition papers to the NCAA’s motion given the brief and unintentional delay, the lack of prejudice to the NCAA, the existence of potentially meritorious defenses to the NCAA’s motion, and “the policy favoring the resolution of cases on their merits” (Nikita v Parfomak, 43 AD3d 892, 893; see Matter of Village of Haverstraw v Ray Riv. Co., 137 AD3d at 801-802; Siracusa v Fitterman, 110 AD3d 1055, 1056-1057; Associates First Capital v Crabill, 51 AD3d 1186, 1188).

Accordingly, the Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying the plaintiff’s motion, in effect, pursuant to CPLR 2004 to extend his time to submit opposition papers to the NCAA’s motion, and the order dated June 26, 2015, which consequently was entered upon the plaintiff’s default, must be vacated

The Second Department is notorious for not vacating defaults unless the “reasonable excuse” is highly detailed.  The Court, as I sensed, is significantly more empathetic to a party who breaches a briefing schedule, but moves to have the paper accepted.  This is significant to the practitioner that gets ensnared in one of those briefing stipulations,.

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