Allen v. Crowell-Collier Pub. Co., CROWELL--COLLIER

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtFULD; BREITEL
Citation21 N.Y.2d 403,288 N.Y.S.2d 449
Parties, 235 N.E.2d 430 Lillian ALLEN et al., Appellants, v.PUBLISHING COMPANY, Respondent.
Docket NumberCROWELL--COLLIER
Decision Date21 February 1968

Page 449

288 N.Y.S.2d 449
21 N.Y.2d 403, 235 N.E.2d 430
Lillian ALLEN et al., Appellants,
v.
CROWELL--COLLIER PUBLISHING COMPANY, Respondent.
Court of Appeals of New York.
Feb. 21, 1968.

Page 451

[235 N.E.2d 431] [21 N.Y.2d 404] Victor A. Kovner, Sydney D. Bierman, John C. Lankenau and Allen G. Schwartz, New York City, for appellants.

Terence F. Gilheany and Peter Megargee Brown, New York City, for respondent.

[21 N.Y.2d 405] FULD, Chief Judge.

The plaintiffs (upwards of 150 in number) are former employees who had worked in the defendant's plant in Springfield, Ohio. Discharged in December, 1956, when the defendant suspended publication of Collier's and Woman's Home Companion, they sue for severance and retirement pay. It is their claim that the defendant had 'established and announced to its employees, including plaintiffs, and (had) carried out a policy and practice' of making severance--or retirement--payments upon the termination of employment and that they had 'started or continued in defendant's employ', knowing of and relying upon this policy.

Following joinder of issue, the plaintiffs submitted certain interrogatories to the defendant pursuant to CPLR 3101 and 3130, seeking information about the defendant's practices, current and past, with regard to severance and retirement pay, both at its Springfield plant and at its other plants and offices. The plaintiffs, who were nonunion employees, also seek to inquire about collective bargaining agreements of the defendant and, in addition, request information concerning practices in the publishing business in general. All this information is necessary, they say, to show that the defendant, although it contends otherwise, had an over-all, uniform policy at its various [21 N.Y.2d 406] plants and offices--'consistent' with procedures in the publishing business generally--in regard to severance and retirement pay, whether or not it treated its nonunion employees differently from those who belonged to a union.

The defendant moved to strike most of the interrogatories as not material and necessary to the resolution of the issues; no contention was or is made that the interrogatories are burdensome, seek privileged information or are in any other respect improper. The court at Special Term granted the defendant's motion almost in its entirety. The Appellate Division, by a divided court, affirmed and granted leave to appeal on a [235 N.E.2d 432] certified question. In addition to urging its position that the information sought is not 'material and necessary' within the meaning of CPLR 3101, 1 the defendant contends that the order below, striking the interrogatories, rested in discretion and is beyond our power of review.

Page 452

The courts do undoubtedly possess a wide discretion to decide whether information sought is 'material and necessary' to the prosecution or defense of an action (see, e.g., Paliotto v. Hartman, 2 A.D.2d 866, 156 N.Y.S.2d 220) but that discretion is not unlimited. Where, as here, an issue exists as to whether there has been an abuse of discretion, a reviewable question of law...

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1021 practice notes
  • Forman v. Henkin
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • December 17, 2015
    ...whether the information sought is subject to discovery, "[t]he test is one of usefulness and reason" (Allen v. Crowell–Collier Publ. Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 235 N.E.2d 430 [1968] ). " ‘It is incumbent on the party seeking disclosure to demonstrate that the method of disco......
  • O'Neill v. Oakgrove Const., Inc.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • March 29, 1988
    ...sharpening of the issues, or reducing delay. The test in such cases is "usefulness and reason" ( Allen v. Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 235 N.E.2d 430). Where, however, the nonparty against whom discovery is sought is engaged in newsgathering or reporting ......
  • Manas y Pineiro v. Chase Manhattan Bank, NA, No. 76 Civ. 2934.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 24, 1978
    ...38 U.S.C.A. § 4116(c) (Supp.1977), 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 247b(k)(5)(B), 2458a(c) (Supp. 1977). 6 In Allen v. Crowell-Collier Publishing Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 235 N.E.2d 430 (1968), the scope of discovery under N.Y.C.P. L.R. § 3101(a) ("all evidence material and necessary") was cons......
  • Mosca v. Pensky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • January 19, 1973
    ...decision to include discovery of any relevant information that serves to reduce 'delay and prolixity' (Allen v. Crowell-Collier Pub. Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 451--452, 235 N.E.2d 460, 431--432). 'The test is one of usefulness and reason' The propriety of disclosing insuran......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1025 cases
  • Forman v. Henkin
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • December 17, 2015
    ...whether the information sought is subject to discovery, "[t]he test is one of usefulness and reason" (Allen v. Crowell–Collier Publ. Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 235 N.E.2d 430 [1968] ). " ‘It is incumbent on the party seeking disclosure to demonstrate that the method of disco......
  • O'Neill v. Oakgrove Const., Inc.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • March 29, 1988
    ...sharpening of the issues, or reducing delay. The test in such cases is "usefulness and reason" ( Allen v. Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 235 N.E.2d 430). Where, however, the nonparty against whom discovery is sought is engaged in newsgathering or reporting ......
  • Manas y Pineiro v. Chase Manhattan Bank, NA, No. 76 Civ. 2934.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 24, 1978
    ...38 U.S.C.A. § 4116(c) (Supp.1977), 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 247b(k)(5)(B), 2458a(c) (Supp. 1977). 6 In Allen v. Crowell-Collier Publishing Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 235 N.E.2d 430 (1968), the scope of discovery under N.Y.C.P. L.R. § 3101(a) ("all evidence material and necessary") was cons......
  • Mosca v. Pensky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • January 19, 1973
    ...decision to include discovery of any relevant information that serves to reduce 'delay and prolixity' (Allen v. Crowell-Collier Pub. Co., 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406, 288 N.Y.S.2d 449, 451--452, 235 N.E.2d 460, 431--432). 'The test is one of usefulness and reason' The propriety of disclosing insuran......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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