On February 4, 2021, Justice Reed of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in 470 4th Ave. Fee Owner, LLC v. Adam Am. LLC, 2021 NY Slip Op. 50090(U), holding that a notice to admit cannot request admissions that go to the heart of the parties’ claims and defenses, explaining:
A notice to admit is to be used only for disposing of uncontroverted questions of fact or those that are easily provable. Its use is not to obtain information in lieu of other disclosure devices, such as the taking of depositions before trial or to obtain admissions to facts that go to the heart of the matter.
Contrary to Danya’s assertions, the bulk of the notice to admit addressed to AC requests admissions that go to the heart of the parties’ claims and defenses. However, the requests to admit that are clear and seek admissions of the existence of a contractual relationship between AC and Danya and the authenticity of a contract between AC and Danya are proper. Likewise, the items in the notice to admit addressed to Amra are only proper where they seek admission of a contractual relationship and the authenticity of a contract.
(Internal quotations and citations omitted).
A big part of complex commercial litigation is giving, receiving and evaluating evidence (this is called “discovery”). The scope of discovery in New York is broad, and includes the discovery device discussed here: notices to admit. As this decision shows, the use of notices to admit is limited in important ways. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or a client has a question regarding discovery obligations (and what to do if a litigant is not honoring those obligations).
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