Commingling and Personal Piggy Bank Leads to Summary Judgment on Veil Piercing Claims

In Webmediabrands, Inc. v. Latinvision, Inc., No. 601048/2010, the Supreme Court (J. Friedman)  pierced the corporate veil at the summary judgment stage.

Under New York law, the factors used to determine whether a court should allow plaintiffs to pierce the corporate veil include “a failure to adhere to corporate formalities, inadequate capitalization, commingling of assets, use of corporate funds for personal use,” an “overlap in ownership and directorship,” and “common use of office space and equipment.” For this reason, corporate veil piercing or alter ego claims of liability are fact-laden and, typically, are not considered well suited for resolution at the summary judgment stage.

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“Get Outta Here!”: The Court Of Appeals Finds that New York Judges May Sua Sponte Dismiss Cases on Forum Non Conveniens Grounds in Limited Circumstances

In Mashreqbank PSC v. Ahmed Hamad Al Gosaibi & Bros. Co., 2014 N.Y. Slip Op. 02381, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that a court may sua sponte decide the issue of forum non conveniens so long as it allows the parties to brief and argue the matter.  The Court of Appeals further found that the mere transfer of money through a New York-based bank account was not sufficiently compelling to keep an otherwise foreign case in a New York court.

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Commercial Division Justices Oing and Scarpulla Participate In New Pilot Program

The New York Supreme Court, Commercial Division, has announced that two of its judges, Justices Oing and Scarpulla, will participate in a new program strongly encouraging use of hyperlinks in submissions to the Court.  The hyperlinks are to be utilized in all affidavits, affirmations, exhibits within those affidavits and affirmations, and memoranda of law that are filed electronically through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (“NYSCEF”) for cases that are assigned to Justices Oing and Scarpulla.

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The Commercial Division Reviews Arbitrations: Three Recent Decisions Clarify Standards For Actions Brought Pursuant To Article 75 of the CPLR

Several recent decisions by Commercial Division Justices, two of them affirmed by the First Department, have clarified the limitations and standards applied in actions brought pursuant to Article 75 of the CPLR.  Article 75 permits participants in binding arbitration, irrespective of what arbitral forum they are in, to seek assistance from New York State Supreme Court judges under certain circumstances.

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Monetary Threshold For Commencing Cases In Manhattan’s Commercial Division Raised to $500,000

New York court officials have approved an amendment to Section 202.70(a) of the Commercial Division Rules, which will increase in the minimum monetary threshold of $150,000 to $500,000 for the commencement of lawsuits to be adjudicated in Manhattan’s Commercial Division.  The Commercial Division handles complicated commercial cases as part of the Supreme Court of New York State.  The new rule is effective February 17, 2014.

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Justice Saliann Scarpulla Appointed to New York County Commercial Division

Effective Monday, February 3rd, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York Supreme Court was appointed to the New York County Commercial Division.  Justice Scarpulla succeeds Justice Barbara Kapnick, who was appointed to the Appellate Division, First Department, by Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 17, 2014.  According to her judicial biography, Justice Scarpulla is a 1986 graduate of Brooklyn Law School.  After law school, Justice Scarpulla was a Court Attorney for Justice Alvin F. Klein (1986-1987), a Litigation Associate at Proskauer Rose LLP (1988-1993), Counsel/Senior Litigator at the FDIC New York Legal Services Office (1993‑1997), and Senior Vice President and Bank Counsel at Hudson Bank (1997-1999).  From 1999 to 2001, Justice Scarpulla was a Court Attorney for her now colleague in the New York County Commercial Division, Justice Eileen Bransten.

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Mandatory Mediation for Every Fifth Case in New York County’s Commercial Division?

The Commercial Division Advisory Council has proposed that the court adopt a pilot program for New York County’s Commercial Division that would send every fifth newly assigned case to mediation unless the parties stipulate otherwise or one party makes a good cause showing that mediation would be ineffective or unjust.  A copy of the proposal is available here.

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First Department Refuses to Expand Jurisdiction over Foreign Entities

In Khalife v. Audi Saradar Private Bank SAL, 2013 NY Slip Op 05971 (1st Dep’t Sept. 24, 2013), the First Department declined to broaden CPLR § 303, holding that the statute does not authorize personal jurisdiction over a foreign person or entity when the non-domiciliary seeks some form of affirmative relief in a New York court, as opposed to commencing an action.  CPLR § 303 provides that “[t]he commencement of an action in the state by a person not subject to personal jurisdiction” designates the non-domiciliary’s attorney as agent for service of process.  Khalife makes it clear that an application for affirmative relief is not enough to subject a non-domiciliary to jurisdiction in New York under CPLR § 303.  Only the commencement of an action, through the filing of a complaint, will suffice.

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“So You’re Saying There’s A Chance…”: Yellowstone Injunctions Alive and Well in the Commercial Division

In Burlington Coat Factory of N.Y., LLC v. Majestic Rayon Corp., No. 652511/2012, the Supreme Court (J. Kornreich) granted plaintiff Burlington Coat Factory’s (“Burlington”) motion for an injunction to stay and toll the expiration of a thirty-day default cure period and enjoin the defendant landlords Majestic Rayon Corp. and Cudge Realty, LLC (“Landlords”) from terminating Burlington’s lease or tenancy, despite uncertainty over Burlington’s ability to cure the default.  Specifically, the Court found that Burlington’s professed “willingness to do whatever is necessary to cure [the] lease default,” coupled with a potential means to cure, was sufficient to grant the injunctive relief.

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First Department Sustains Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and Other Claims Against Subsidiaries and Officers of Lehman Brothers Based Upon An Allegedly Improper Asset Substitution on the Eve of the Lehman Brothers Collapse

In Aetna Life Insurance Company v. Appalachian Asset Management Corp, et al., 2013 Slip Op 05506 (1st Dep’t July 30, 2013) the Appellate Division affirmed the April 13, 2012 decision of the New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division (Ramos, J.), which sustained claims by Aetna Life Insurance Company (“Aetna”) for beach of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”), breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and recklessness against certain wholly-owned subsidiaries of Lehman Brothers Holding, Inc. (“LBHI”) and individuals acting on behalf of those companies (collectively, the “Defendants”).

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