Santiago v. RJ Lease Mgt. Corp., 2022-50332

CourtNew York Civil Court
Writing for the CourtASHLEE CRAWFORD, J.
PartiesPablo Santiago, Plaintiff, v. RJ Lease Management Corp. and Juan Escano, Defendants. Estate of Carmen Santiago by its Administrator Reinaldo Santiago, Plaintiff, v. Pablo Santiago, RJ Lease Management Corp. and Juan Escano, Defendants.
Decision Date28 April 2022
Docket Number2022-50332,Index 300296/19

Pablo Santiago, Plaintiff,
v.

RJ Lease Management Corp. and Juan Escano, Defendants.

Estate of Carmen Santiago by its Administrator Reinaldo Santiago, Plaintiff,
v.

Pablo Santiago, RJ Lease Management Corp. and Juan Escano, Defendants.

No. 2022-50332

Index No. 300296/19

Civil Court of the City of New York, Bronx County

April 28, 2022


Unpublished Opinion

ASHLEE CRAWFORD, J.

This motion involves two actions arising out of the same 2014 motor vehicle accident, which previously have been joined for trial. Pablo Santiago, as defendant in the second action (index no. 300285/19, the "Estate case") moves for an order in limine precluding co-defendant Juan Escano from testifying at trial. Santiago also moves for summary judgment as to Escano's liability.

Motion to Preclude Testimony

In 2015, Escano was deposed in the first action (index no. 300296/19, the "Santiago case"). Neither counsel for the Estate of then-living Carmen Santiago, nor Pablo Santiago's defense counsel in the Estate case, were present for that deposition, as they are not involved in the Santiago case.

The Estate filed a note of issue in the Estate case in September 2016, which defendant Santiago moved to strike on the ground he had not had the opportunity to depose Escano. By decision and order of Supreme Court (Laura Douglas, J.), dated November 3, 2016, the Court held that Escano's counsel was to produce a copy of Escano's deposition transcript within fifteen (15) days; Santiago's counsel was to advise within thirty (30) days of receipt of the transcript whether a subsequent deposition of Escano would be necessary; and, if so, that any subsequent deposition of Escano would take place on January 18, 2017. After review of the deposition transcript, Santiago requested a subsequent deposition of Escano.

In December 2016, after the issuance of the foregoing order, but prior to the January 18, 2017 date of Escano's deposition, Supreme Court so-ordered a stipulation of all parties agreeing to consolidate both matters for trial.

After Escano failed to appear for his Court-ordered deposition on January 18, 2017, Supreme Court issued a conditional preclusion order, dated October 3, 2017, precluding Escano from testifying at trial "unless he appears for a deposition in this action within 60 days of this date." Escano has never appeared for the subsequent deposition. [1]

In support of the motion in limine, Santiago, joined by the Estate, argues that the preclusion order became absolute when Escano did not appear for a deposition within 60 days of that order, and that Escano should be entirely precluded from testifying at the joint trial. Santiago and the Estate contend that to allow Escano to testify in the Santiago case, in which Escano was deposed, while precluding him from testifying in the Estate case with a limiting instruction to the jury not to consider the testimony solely in that case, would result in severe prejudice to them for two primary reasons. First, they never got to depose Escano and the existing deposition did not address all the issues they hoped to cover with him. Second, they contend they would not be permitted to cross-examine Escano in the Estate case, because Escano is precluded from testifying in that matter. Santiago suggests as an alternative outcome the severance of the two matters for trial, but...

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