Commercial Division Blog

Posted: June 24, 2017 / Categories Commercial, Court Rules/Procedures

Summons With Notice Provided Sufficient Notice of Plaintiff's Claims

On June 6, 2017, Justice Scarpulla of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in Lanmark Group, Inc. v. New York City School Construction Authority, 2017 NY Slip Op. 31244(U), rejecting an argument that a summons with notice did not provide sufficient notice of the plaintiff's claims, explaining:

As to the sufficiency of the summons with notice, CPLR 305 (b) provides that a summons served without a complaint must include a notice stating the nature of the action and the relief sought, and the sum of money for which judgment may be taken in case of default. Failure to provide sufficient notice is a jurisdictional defect.

Lanmark's summons with notice provides that in case of SCA's failure to appear or answer, judgment will be taken against SCA by default for breach of contract in the sum of $891,231.44. SCA is correct that the notice does not specify that there are two causes of action for breach of contract, and that the stated damages amount does not cover the total dollar amount of both claims: $891,231.44 on the first cause of action and $36,899.77 on the second cause of action. However, since the purpose of the notice is simply to provide the defendant with at least basic information concerning the nature of plaintiff's claim and the relief sought, absolute precision is not necessary. Here, the summons adequately specifies that this action is for breach of Lanmark's contract with SCA, and requests money damages in a specified sum. This information is more than sufficient to apprise SCA of Lanmark's claim. Indeed, the complete absence of a monetary amount in a notice served with a summons is a correctable irregularity.

Further, that the summons refers generally to a breach of contract without specifying each alleged breach is not fatal. The action remains fundamentally an action for breach of contract, as stated in the summons. Such a general description of the nature of the action has been found to be sufficient in other cases. A general description of the nature of the case has been found sufficient even where multiple theories of liability may arise out of the same fact pattern.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).