Premature Summary Judgment Motion Keeps Defendant Early Exit on Ice

Every time someone talks about doing something too early, I can’t help but see William Wallace in Braveheart screaming “Hold!” as English heavy horses charge directly at him.  There, Wallace was cautioning patience, as revealing Scottish anti-cavalry measures too early would have been fatal to their strategy, and shortened the movie by about two hours.  In a recent decision, Supreme Court, Kings County reminds us that moving too early for summary judgment in Labor Law can be fatal (albeit, temporarily in this case) to overall strategy for an early exit from a lawsuit.

In Juman v. Cape Church Associates, LLC, 2024 NY Slip Op 30393(U) (Sup Ct. Kings Cty. 2024), plaintiff alleged he sustained injuries while performing work (without further specification) at the subject location.  Before any of the defendants exchanged discovery, defendant Ice Electric, Inc. moved for summary judgment, contending there was no viable cause of action under Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1) and 241(6) and Rule 23 of New York State Industrial Code against it, as it had “never owned, occupied or held any interest in the subject premises.”

Inn support of its motion, Ice Electric submitted only an affidavit of the Administrator of the Estate of the former owner of Ice Electric.  Plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing he had no way to verify the assertions contained in the affidavit as the defendants had not exchanged any discovery. 

The Supreme Court, Kings County denied the motion, finding that facts essential to justify opposition to Ice Electric’s motion, specifically with respect to the involvement of Ice Electric and co-defendants, may exist, but cannot presently be stated.  The Court denied the motion without prejudice as premature, giving Ice Electric another attempt at an early exit, presumably at some point after discovery has gotten underway. 

As of the date of this writing, the time to appeal the Supreme Court, Kings County decision has yet to expire. 

The Juman decision can be found here.

For additional questions, please contact Michael J. Shields, Esq. and/or Philip D. Priore, Esq.

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