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Early Summary Judgment Is Not Always Premature (NY)

September 27, 2017

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<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">Occasionally, there are instances where a party can feel trapped in a case in which it does not belong. The Appellate Division, Second Department’s decision in <a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Haidhaqi-v-Metropolitan-Transportation-Authority.pdf">Haidhaqi v Metropolitan Transportation Authority</a> provides guidance on moving for summary judgment in advance of the close of discovery while combatting opposing counsel’s claims that such a motion is premature. </span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">Plaintiff Haidhaqi alleged that he was injured while working at a Metropolitan Transportation Authority project at the Culver Viaduct in Brooklyn, New York, where his employer was the general contractor pursuant to contract with the MTA. Plaintiff claimed that while painting an elevated beam, he was pinned between the railing of the boom lift he was using and the beam. His allegations sounded in violation of New York Labor Law 200, 240, and 241(6). Plaintiff’s employer was the general contractor for the Culver Viaduct project pursuant to contract with the MTA.</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">Defendant F&amp;S Contracting was retained by the MTA under a separate contract as general contractor for the rehabilitation of a subway station at Smith Street in Brooklyn, which was located on part of the Culver Viaduct. Before the close of discovery, F&amp;S unsuccessfully moved for summary judgment, which had been opposed by plaintiff’s counsel as premature. </span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">The Appellate Division reversed the lower court, finding that F&amp;S established that the work it performed in connection with the Smith Street Project was entirely distinct from, and unrelated to, the injury-producing work, which was part of the Culver Viaduct Project. F &amp; S Contracting demonstrated that it discontinued its work on the Smith Street Project before the subject accident occurred. As F &amp; S was not an owner, contractor, or agent involved in the Culver Viaduct Project, had no responsibility for procuring or supplying the allegedly defective boom lift involved in the accident, and exercised no supervision or control over the plaintiff's work, it follows that F &amp; S Contracting could not be held liable under any theory of liability asserted in the complaint</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">Plaintiff’s opposition, based solely on the claim that F&amp;S’s motion was premature, failed to raise a triable issue of fact. The Court’s decision emphasized that a party contending that a motion for summary judgment is premature is required to demonstrate that additional discovery might lead to relevant evidence or that the facts essential to oppose the motion are exclusively within the knowledge and control of the movant. The mere hope or speculation that evidence sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment may be uncovered during the discovery process is insufficient to deny the motion. Rather, there must be some evidentiary basis to suggest that discovery may lead to relevant evidence.</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">Accordingly, defendant F&amp;S’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and all cross claims against was granted in its entirety.</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">Thanks to Lauren Tarangelo for her contribution.</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at </span><a href="mailto:dricci@wcmlaw.com">dricci@wcmlaw.com</a><span style="color: #000000; font-family: Calibri; font-size: medium;">.</span>
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