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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts
Posted: July 10, 2017

Failure to Comply With Discovery Orders Warranted Dismissal and Monetary Sanctions

On June 21, 2017, the Second Department issued a decision in 150 Centreville, LLC v. Lin Associates Architects, P.C., 2017 NY Slip Op. 05056, affirming the dismissal of an action and monetary sanctions for the failure to comply with discovery orders, explaining:

The plaintiffs failed to comply with a stipulation that was so-ordered by the Supreme Court which provided, in effect, that the complaint would be dismissed unless the plaintiffs responded to the defendants’ demand for interrogatories and notice for discovery and inspection that had been outstanding for more than two years despite several court orders directing a response. Upon the plaintiffs’ failure to comply, the conditional order became final and a judgment was entered dismissing the complaint. In support of their motion to vacate the judgment, the plaintiffs were required to demonstrate (1) a reasonable excuse for the failure to produce the requested items and (2) the existence of a potentially meritorious cause of action. The plaintiffs failed to proffer a reasonable excuse for their failure to produce the requested items. Although the plaintiffs may have been denied access for a period of time to some of their documents, which they contended they needed in order to respond to the defendants’ demands, they failed to secure the documents when they were provided access by court order for a specified time period, they did not seek an extension of that period of time before it expired, they did not provide responses to those demands that did not require access to the records to which they no longer had access, and they did not take appropriate steps to ensure that the documents were not disposed of. Moreover, the plaintiffs failed to establish a potentially meritorious cause of action.

In addition, the Supreme Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees and costs to the defendants, since the plaintiffs failed to comply with multiple orders directing disclosure without a reasonable excuse, which conduct was completely without merit in law and which appeared to be designed to mislead the Supreme Court and the defendant and to delay the resolution of the action.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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