Cabrini Blockfront LLC v. J.N., 58674/17

CourtNew York Civil Court
Writing for the CourtJean Schneider, J.
Citation63 Misc.3d 1221 (A),114 N.Y.S.3d 815 (Table)
Parties CABRINI BLOCKFRONT LLC, Petitioner, v. J.N., Respondent.
Decision Date27 March 2019
Docket Number58674/17

63 Misc.3d 1221 (A)
114 N.Y.S.3d 815 (Table)

J.N., Respondent.


Civil Court, City of New York.

Decided on March 27, 2019

Jean Schneider, J.

Respondent J.N.'s motion to vacate this court's decision and judgment after trial pursuant to Section 4404(b) of the CPLR, and for other relief, is granted to the extent set forth below.

Section 44404(b) provides that after a trial in which a jury was not required, "upon the motion of any party or on its own initiative, the court may set aside its decision or any judgment entered thereon. It may make new findings of fact or conclusions of law, with or without taking additional testimony, render a new decision and direct entry of judgment, or it may order a new trial of a cause of action or separable issue." The statute gives the trial court broad discretion to set aside its own judgments, and sets forth no standards for or limitations on the court's exercise of that discretion.

The goal is to ensure that litigants receive a fair trial and that justice is done. Altimari v. Meisser , 23 AD2d 672 (2nd Dept. 1965). If a party has been denied a fair trial, the court should order a new trial in the interests of justice. 12-16 Arden Assocs v. Vasquez , 168 Misc 2d 475, 479 (Civ. Ct. NY Co. 1995) (Gische, J.), citing Rohring v. City of Niagara Falls , 192 AD2d 228 (4th Dept. 1993) ; Scala v. Greyhound Lines, Inc. , 149 AD2d 327 (1st Dept. 1989).

It is true, as petitioner here argues, that a party seeking relief under Section 4404(b) must ordinarily move for relief within 15 days of the entry of judgment. CPLR Section 4405. The statute places no time limits, though, on the court's right to grant relief on its own initiative so long as an appeal has not been submitted or argued, Id. , and a late motion may be permitted by the court for good cause shown. Mora v. Cassino , 196 Misc 2d 403, 404 (Civ. Ct. NY Co. 2002) (Bedford, J.), citing Pioli v. Morgan Guaranty Trust Co of NY , 199 AD2d 144 (1st Dept. 1993).

This court is persuaded, based on the evidence submitted on this motion, none of it contradicted by petitioner, that J.N. did not receive a fair trial in this case, because of his severe mental illness, combined with and exacerbated by his trial counsel's failure to bring his psychiatric condition to the attention of the court at any time during the eighteen months between the commencement of the proceeding and the end of the trial.

With the assistance of his new counsel, respondent has established that he suffers, and has suffered for decades, from severe mental illness. Medical reports and treating records submitted with the moving papers establish that respondent has been diagnosed in recent years with...

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