In an unusual reversal of its own decision from just months earlier, the New York Court of Appeals held, on Dec. 10, 2013, that the determination of the Workers’ Compensation Board that a plaintiff had no further causally related disability, was not entitled to collateral estoppel effect in the plaintiff’s personal injury action (see Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Ltd. Partnership, 22 N.Y.3d 246, Slip Op. 08192 [2013]). This is in stark contrast to the court’s decision in the same case, on Feb. 14, 2013, that the determination of the Workers’ Compensation Board that a plaintiff had no further causally related disability, was entitled to collateral estoppel effect in plaintiff’s personal injury action (see Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Ltd. Partnership, 20 N.Y.3d 1035, 962 N.Y.S.2d 579, 985 N.E.2d 889 [2013]).

The court’s rationale, if any, for the complete reversal of its earlier decision is difficult to comprehend, and the subsequent decision gives no insight to the court’s thought process in granting reargument and reversing its earlier decision. Indeed, the court’s December decision does not acknowledge its February decision other than to order it vacated. No doubt that Judge Eugene Pigott’s vigorous dissent in the earlier decision played some role in the reversal of plaintiff’s fortunes, but this begs the question of why was Pigott’s opinion insufficient to sway his fellow judges earlier in the year?

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