X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

The court heard oral argument on April 29, 2021. The following papers were read on this motion pursuant to CPLR 2219(a): Papers  DOC NOS. Notice of Motion#3/Order to Show Cause/Affidavits/Affirmations/Exhibits        Doc. 34-36, 42-43 Answering Affirmations/Affidavits/Exhibits           Doc. 38, 39 Reply Affirmations/Affidavits/Exhibits Other Doc. 40, 44, 48-51, 52 DECISION & ORDER As an initial matter, the court takes judicial notice that the New York State Attorney General has no interest and will not appear in this action. Defendant Joseph Chaim Society, Inc. moves to reargue this court’s decision and order dated January 12, 2021 and entered on January 13, 2021 denying its motion to compel plaintiff to accept its answer. The court assumes familiarity with the foregoing decision and order. Defendant claims the court misapprehended the applicable Executive Orders and the law regarding compelling plaintiff to accept a late answer under CPLR 2004 and 3012(d). “Executive Order 202.8 tolls ‘any specific time limit for the…service of any…notice [or] motion…as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state. That would appear to apply to the service of the notice of appearance, a CPLR 3211(a) pre-answer motion to dismiss, and a CPLR 3024 corrective motion.’” See §33. Statute of Limitations, Generally, Siegel, N.Y. Prac. §33 (6th ed.). The court’s language in its prior decision and order that Executive Order 202.8 did not apply to the “suspension of proceedings or motion practice” simply means that any statute of limitations was extended (or tolled) but did not preclude motion practice or filing of papers or filing an answer during the applicable period. Siegel also goes on to say, “Yet the language in Executive Order 202.8 does not apply to toll the defendant’s time to serve an answer!”1 Ibid. Siegel is persuasive but not mandatory authority; the author believes this Executive Order (“EO”) may have been intended to also toll the time to file an Answer even though the language to accomplish this is missing. Ibid. The tolling under Executive Order (“EO”) 202.8 of statutes of limitations was in effect from March 20, 2020 to its eventual expiration on November 4, 2020 by EO 202.72. Here, plaintiff was not prohibited from bringing a motion for default judgment and no proceedings were “suspended.” The defendant was required to serve and file an answer. The misapprehension by the moving defendant of these Executive Orders and the short default period may constitute good cause for excusing the default, but the circumstances of this case makes that relief unattainable. The action was commenced on July 7, 2020 by filing the summons and complaint. The affidavit of service shows service on the New York State Secretary of State on July 27, 2020. The affidavit of service was filed on August 21, 2020. The movant’s answer which was verified by an attorney without personal knowledge, was filed on December 7, 2020, approximately three and one-half months late and after the motion for default judgment was served. The uncontested facts demonstrate that defendant’s counsel intentionally failed to serve an answer even after being contacted by plaintiff’s counsel before plaintiff filed its default judgment motion. Further, the motion to extend the time to answer under CPLR 2004 and 3012(d) is not supported with an affidavit of merit or a client verified answer (C.P.L.R. 105 [u]). Defendant contends that it need not submit an affidavit of merit or verified answer under CPLR 3012(d) to prevail on its motion to compel a late answer citing several First Department cases and none from the Second Department. But the Second Department cases are binding on the court and the standard for compelling the acceptance of a late answer is good cause for the default and a potentially meritorious defense. See Yuxi Li v. Caruso, 161 A.D.3d 1132, 1133, 77 N.Y.S.3d 685, 687 (2018): ‘In order to avoid the entry of a default judgment, a defendant who has failed to appear or answer the complaint must provide a reasonable excuse for the default and demonstrate a potentially meritorious defense to the action’ (Jong Gwon Kim v. Strippoli, 144 A.D.3d 982, 983, 42 N.Y.S.3d 245). A defendant who moves pursuant to CPLR 3012(d) to compel the plaintiff to accept late service of an answer is required to make a similar showing (see id. at 983, 42 N.Y.S.3d 245). See also Adames v. Taveras, 30 Misc. 3d 143(A), 924 N.Y.S.2d 307 (App. Term 2011): Contrary to his contention that he was not required to submit an affidavit of merit, the Appellate Division, Second Department, has consistently held that a defendant who fails to answer the complaint and seeks to compel acceptance of a late answer must provide a reasonable excuse for the default and demonstrate a meritorious defense to the action (see Juseinoski v. Board of Educ. of City of NY, 15 AD3d 353, 356 [2005]; see also Ryan v. Breezy Point Cooperative, Inc., 76 AD3d 523 [2010]; Roccanova v. Aussino (USA) Inc., 76 AD3d 522 [2010] ). Consequently, as no meritorious defense to the action was demonstrated, the motion, insofar as it was made by Barcacel, to compel plaintiff to accept his late answer should have been denied. See also Commentary to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 2004 (McKinney): Extensions of time are not free for the asking: The movant must show ‘good cause.’ In exercising its discretion, the court may consider such factors as length of the delay, reason or excuse for the delay, and prejudice to the opponent. Tewari v. Tsoutsouras, supra, 75 N.Y.2d at 12, 550 N.Y.S.2d at 577, 549 N.E.2d at 1148. See, e.g., Payne v. Buffalo General Hospital, 2012, 96 A.D.3d 1628, 947 N.Y.S.2d 282 (4th Dep’t) (applying factors of validity of excuse, length of delay, and extent of prejudice on issue of untimely submission of motion paper). As previously mentioned, another factor is “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, supra, 75 N.Y.2d at 12, 550 N.Y.S.2d at 577, 549 N.E.2d at 1147. An affidavit of merit does not appear to be an absolute requirement, however, except after a default in pleading. (Emphasis Added). Ibid. The court cannot grant defendant’s motion to compel the plaintiff to accept its late answer because it intentionally defaulted and failed to provide the court with an affidavit of merit or verified answer by someone with personal knowledge showing a potentially meritorious defense. See Yuxi Li v. Caruso, 161 A.D.3d 1132, 1133, 77 N.Y.S.3d 685, 687 (2018); Sargsyan v. Kaieteur Constr., Inc., 171 A.D.3d 826, 97 N.Y.S.3d 170 (2019); Bd. of Managers of Harborview Condo. v. Goodman, 189 A.D.3d 1529, 139 N.Y.S.3d 374 (2020); and Belches v. City of New York, 191 A.D.3d 754, 142 N.Y.S.3d 87 (2021). Based on the foregoing, it is ORDERED, that defendant Joseph Chaim Society, Inc.’s motion to reargue (Motion Seq. 3) is GRANTED and upon reargument to vacate the default the motion is DENIED; and it is further ORDERED, that the court’s order dated January 12, 2021 and entered on January 13, 2021 is modified solely by deleting the provision “that plaintiff’s motion (#1) is granted to the extent that the court finds that defendant Joseph Chaim Society, Inc. defaulted in failing to answer” and substituting the following provision, “that plaintiff’s motion (#1) for default judgment against defendant Joseph Chaim Society, Inc. is GRANTED, the defendant’s motion to compel the plaintiff to accept its answer is DENIED and the clerk shall enter a default judgment against defendant Joseph Chaim Society, Inc. with a final declaration of rights being made at trial or pursuant to other application; and this default judgment against defendant Joseph Chaim Society, Inc. shall not have preclusive effect on any other defendant.” This constitutes the decision and order of the Court. Dated: May 3, 2021

 
Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

More From ALM

Premium Subscription

With this subscription you will receive unlimited access to high quality, online, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry. This is perfect for attorneys licensed in multiple jurisdictions or for attorneys that have fulfilled their CLE requirement but need to access resourceful information for their practice areas.
View Now

Team Accounts

Our Team Account subscription service is for legal teams of four or more attorneys. Each attorney is granted unlimited access to high quality, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry along with administrative access to easily manage CLE for the entire team.
View Now

Bundle Subscriptions

Gain access to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with our 2 bundle options! Our Compliance bundles are curated by CLE Counselors and include current legal topics and challenges within the industry. Our second option allows you to build your bundle and strategically select the content that pertains to your needs. Both options are priced the same.
View Now

Legalweek(year) 2021

February 02, 2021 - July 14, 2021
Virtual

Legalweek(year) will bring together thousands of legal professionals for a series of 5 innovative virtual legal events.


Register

New York Legal Awards 2021

October 21, 2021
New York, NY

The New York Law Journal honors attorneys and judges who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession in New York.


Register

Pennsylvania Legal Awards 2021

June 24, 2021
Virtual

The Legal Intelligencer honors lawyers leaving a mark on the legal community in Pennsylvania with their dedication to law.


Register

Attorney

Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

Boutique suburban Philadelphia area based Personal Injury firm seeks a very motivated associate with a minimum of 5 years practice experienc...


Apply Now ›

Corporate Associate

New York, New York, United States

Duane Morris LLP has an opening for a mid-level corporate associate in its New York office. Join an exciting and growing M&A practice in...


Apply Now ›

Paralegal

New York, New York, United States

Lax & Neville LLP, a boutique law firm specializing in securities arbitration/litigation, financial services regulatory defense, financi...


Apply Now ›

MARTIN CLEARWATER & BELL, LLP

06/15/2021
NYLJ Web

MARTIN, CLEARWATER & BELL LLP COUNSELORS AT LAW IN MEMORY OF FRANCIS PETER BENSEL


View Announcement ›

GILL & CHAMAS

06/14/2021
NJLJ Web

GILL & CHAMAS Congratulations to our partner and friend,DAVID H. LANDE, ESQ on his appointment to Judge in the Division of Workers Compensation.


View Announcement ›

MANDELBAUM SALSBURG PC

06/07/2021
NJLJ Web

Please to announce that....


View Announcement ›