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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: December 1, 2019

Summons with Notice Provided Sufficient Notice to Satisfy Statute of Limitations

On November 19, 2019, Justice Sherwood of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in Razinski v. Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP, 2019 NY Slip Op. 33422(U), holding that a Summons with Notice provided sufficient notice to satisfy the statute of limitations, explaining:

It is undisputed that the statute of limitations for legal malpractice is three years. Plaintiffs argue the period started running when KMR argued the appeal before the First Department on January 14, 2016. Three years later would be January 14, 2019. The Summons was filed on January 11, 2019, and the Complaint was filed on February 25, 2019. KMR argues the Summons is insufficient to start the action because it was not accompanied by a complaint and does not qualify as a summons with notice. A summons with notice shall contain or have attached thereto 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. The notice portion of the Summons reads as follows:

Notice: The relief sought is money damages in legal malpractice, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty based upon representation in New York County and other court matters. Upon your failure to appear, judgment will be taken against you by default for a sum in excess of the jurisdiction of all lower courts, with interest and the costs of this action.

The naming of actual claims is sufficient to describe the nature of the action. The notice also states that the damages are at least $500,000, the jurisdictional requirement of this court (although not in so many words). A summons with notice is not jurisdictionally defective merely because it omitted a specific dollar amount of money damages sought. This provides sufficient notice to allow defendant to decide if it wishes to appear in response. This action is timely.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

It is not unusual for the statute of limitations to be an issue in complex commercial litigation. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions regarding whether a claim is barred by the statute of limitations.

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