Appellate division : fourth judicial department decisions filed


part of the former oil refinery operations of defendants’ predecessor


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part of the former oil refinery operations of defendants’ predecessor,
Vacuum Oil Company.  The order also granted that part of plaintiffs’
cross motion seeking injunctive relief, and denied that part of
defendants’ motion seeking leave to amend their answer to include
claims of spoliation of evidence. 
In a prior appeal, we concluded that defendants are strictly
liable as dischargers under Navigation Law § 181 (1) (One Flint St.,
LLC v Exxon Mobil Corp., 112 AD3d 1353, 1354, lv dismissed 23 NY3d
998), and that “plaintiffs failed to meet their initial burden of

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establishing their entitlement to partial summary judgment on the
issue whether they are entitled to indemnification rather than
contribution” inasmuch as plaintiffs “failed to eliminate any issue of
fact whether petroleum products were discharged during the period of
their ownership” of the parcels (id. at 1355).  For reasons stated in
Supreme Court’s decision, we conclude that the court properly denied
those parts of the respective cross motions seeking partial summary
judgment on the issue whether plaintiffs are strictly liable as
dischargers under section 181 (1).
We agree with defendants, however, that the court erred in
granting that part of plaintiffs’ cross motion seeking a mandatory
injunction requiring defendants “to either commence the clean-up of
the site within a reasonable time of this order or immediately fund
same.”  “ ‘A mandatory injunction, which is used to compel the
performance of an act, is an extraordinary and drastic remedy which is
rarely granted and then only under the unusual circumstances where
such relief is essential to maintain the status quo pending trial of
the action’ ” (Zoller v HSBC Mtge. Corp. [USA], 135 AD3d 932, 933; see
Lexington & Fortieth Corp. v Callaghan, 281 NY 526, 531), and that is
not the case here.  We therefore modify the order accordingly.
We reject defendants’ further contention that the court abused
its discretion in denying that part of their motion for leave to amend
their answer to allege spoliation of evidence as part of the factual
recitation inasmuch as such an amendment is not necessary (cf. Ortega
v City of New York, 9 NY3d 69, 73; see generally DeLorm v Wegmans Food
Mkts., 185 AD2d 648, 648).  
Entered:  December 23, 2016
Frances E. Cafarell
Clerk of the Court

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
1062    
KA 16-00335  
PRESENT: WHALEN, P.J., SMITH, DEJOSEPH, NEMOYER, AND TROUTMAN, JJ.     
                                                            
                                                            
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENT,            
                                                            
V
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
                                                            
HAMID MEMON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.  
                      
THOMAS J. EOANNOU, BUFFALO, FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
MICHAEL J. FLAHERTY, JR., ACTING DISTRICT ATTORNEY, BUFFALO (MATTHEW
B. POWERS OF COUNSEL), FOR RESPONDENT.                                 
                          
Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Erie County (John F.
O’Donnell, J.), rendered June 25, 2015.  The judgment convicted
defendant, upon a nonjury verdict, of criminal obstruction of
breathing or blood circulation and unlawful imprisonment in the second
degree.  
It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is
unanimously reversed on the law and a new trial is granted. 
Memorandum:  Defendant appeals from a judgment convicting him,
after a bench trial, of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood
circulation (Penal Law § 121.11 [a]), and unlawful imprisonment in the
second degree (§ 135.05).  Initially, we note that defendant was
prosecuted in the Integrated Domestic Violence Part of Supreme Court
(see 22 NYCRR 41.1 [a] [1]; People v Correa, 15 NY3d 213, 232-233),
and thus the appeal properly lies in this Court (see CPL 450.60 [1];
Correa, 15 NY3d at 233 n 4). 
Defendant contends that the court erred in permitting him to be
cross-examined regarding prior uncharged bad acts that were strikingly
similar to the acts underlying the charges in this case.  We agree. 
The Criminal Procedure Law provides that, “[u]pon a request by a
defendant, the prosecutor shall notify the defendant of all specific
instances of a defendant’s prior uncharged criminal, vicious or
immoral conduct of which the prosecutor has knowledge and which the
prosecutor intends to use at trial for purposes of impeaching the
credibility of the defendant” (CPL 240.43).  Here, however, the
prosecutor failed “to advise defendant before trial that he would be
questioned on uncharged acts if he testified[,] and no pretrial
inquiry or determination was made by the court . . . Because the
court’s failure to conduct a proper pretrial inquiry may have affected
defendant’s decision to testify at trial, the error cannot be deemed
harmless” (People v Beasley, 184 AD2d 1003, 1003, affd 80 NY2d 981,

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rearg denied 81 NY2d 759; see People v Slide, 76 AD3d 1106, 1108-1109;
People v Montoya, 63 AD3d 961, 963). 
We also agree with defendant that the court erred in permitting
the prosecutor, over objection, to elicit testimony that bolstered the
testimony of the complaining witness.  “The term ‘bolstering’ is used
to describe the presentation in evidence of a prior consistent
statement—that is, a statement that a testifying witness has
previously made out of court that is in substance the same as his or
her in-court testimony” (People v Smith, 22 NY3d 462, 465).  Although
“[p]rior consistent statements will often be less prejudicial to the
opposing party than other forms of hearsay, since by definition the
maker of the statement has said the same thing in court that he said
out of it” (id. at 465-466), the Court of Appeals has warned that “the
admission of prior consistent statements may, by simple force of
repetition, give to a [factfinder] an exaggerated idea of the
probative force of a party’s case” (id. at 466).  Contrary to the
People’s sole contention, “[i]n light of the importance of the
witnesses’ credibility in this case . . . , we cannot conclude that
the court’s error is harmless” (People v Loftin, 71 AD3d 1576, 1578;
see People v Thomas, 68 AD3d 1141, 1142, lv denied 14 NY3d 845; People
v Caba, 66 AD3d 1121, 1124).  The evidence is not overwhelming and,
“[a]lthough the trial court in a nonjury trial is presumed to have
considered only competent evidence in reaching its verdict . . . ,
here, this presumption was rebutted” by the court’s written decision,
which establishes that the court considered the inadmissible evidence
(People v Ya-ko Chi, 72 AD3d 709, 710-711).
Defendant failed to renew his motion for a trial order of
dismissal after presenting evidence, and thus he failed to preserve
for our review his challenge to the legal sufficiency of the evidence
(see People v Hines, 97 NY2d 56, 61, rearg denied 97 NY2d 678). 
Viewing the evidence in light of the elements of the crimes in this
nonjury trial (see People v Danielson, 9 NY3d 342, 349), we conclude
that the verdict is not against the weight of the evidence (see
generally People v Bleakley, 69 NY2d 490, 495).  “In a bench trial, no
less than a jury trial, the resolution of credibility issues by the
trier of fact and its determination of the weight to be accorded the
evidence presented are entitled to great deference” (People v Ghent,
132 AD3d 1275, 1275, lv denied 26 NY3d 1145 [internal quotation marks
omitted]; see People v McCoy, 100 AD3d 1422, 1422).  The victim’s
testimony was not incredible as a matter of law (see People v Ptak, 37
AD3d 1081, 1082, lv denied 8 NY3d 949), and the court was entitled to
credit the testimony of the victim and the other prosecution witnesses
and to reject the testimony of defendant and the defense witnesses. 
“[U]pon our review of the record, we cannot say that the court failed
to give the evidence the weight that it should be accorded” (People v
Britt, 298 AD2d 984, 984, lv denied 99 NY2d 556).
Entered:  December 23, 2016
Frances E. Cafarell
Clerk of the Court

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
1073
CA 16-00266
PRESENT: WHALEN, P.J., SMITH, DEJOSEPH, NEMOYER, AND TROUTMAN, JJ.
      
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPULSORY ACCOUNTING OF 
THE ADAM D. AND KRYSTYNA M. DIOGUARDI LIVING 
TRUST U/A DTD. JANUARY 28, 1997.
------------------------------------------------
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NICOLE DIOGUARDI BECK, PETITIONER-APPELLANT;                
                                                            
KRYSTYNA M. DIOGUARDI, AS TRUSTEE OF THE ADAM D. 
AND KRYSTYNA M. DIOGUARDI LIVING TRUST U/A DTD. 
JANUARY 28, 1997, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.
MICHAEL J. KIEFFER, ROCHESTER, FOR PETITIONER-APPELLANT.
WEINSTEIN & RANDISI, ROCHESTER (RICHARD C. MILLER OF COUNSEL), FOR
RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.                                                 
                     
Appeal from an order of the Surrogate’s Court, Monroe County
(John M. Owens, S.), entered May 11, 2015.  The order, among other
things, ordered respondent to provide an accounting of the assets of
the Adam D. and Krystyna M. Dioguardi Living Trust U/A DTD. January
28, 1997, from the date of death of Adam D. Dioguardi.  
It is hereby ORDERED that the order so appealed from is
unanimously affirmed without costs. 
Memorandum:  Petitioner, one of the two surviving children of
decedent, Adam D. Dioguardi, commenced this proceeding in Surrogate’s
Court seeking to compel an accounting of the Adam D. and Krystyna M.
Dioguardi Living Trust U/A DTD. January 28, 1997 (Trust) from the time
of decedent’s incapacitation.  Decedent and respondent, who is
decedent’s third wife and surviving spouse, created the Trust on
January 28, 1997 and were named grantors therein.  It is undisputed
that decedent was rendered incapacitated by a stroke in January 2013. 
During his incapacitation and before his death on April 13, 2014,
respondent made various transfers of Trust property to herself and/or
third parties pursuant to her authority as trustee as well as pursuant
to her authority as decedent’s attorney-in-fact by virtue of a durable
power of attorney.  The Surrogate granted the petition in part by
ordering respondent to provide an accounting only from the date of
decedent’s death.  We affirm.
Petitioner contends that the Surrogate abused his discretion in
refusing to order the accounting from the date of decedent’s
incapacity.  We reject that contention.  Contrary to petitioner’s
contention, the transactions undertaken by respondent as trustee

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between the date of decedent’s incapacity and the date of his death
were entirely consistent with decedent’s intent as evinced by “ ‘a
sympathetic reading of the [Trust] as an entirety’ ” (Matter of
Reynolds, 40 AD3d 320, 320, lv denied 9 NY3d 807).  We therefore see
no basis for disturbing the court’s order with respect to the time
parameters of the accounting (see generally SCPA 2205 [1]; Matter of
Mastroianni, 105 AD3d 1136, 1138).
Contrary to petitioner’s further contention, inasmuch as
respondent’s actions as trustee were consistent with decedent’s
interest and intentions, the Surrogate did not abuse his discretion in
denying petitioner’s request to disqualify respondent’s attorney, who
also had represented decedent in preparing the Trust, based on an
alleged conflict of interest (see Matter of Richardson, 43 AD3d 1352,
1353).
Entered:  December 23, 2016
Frances E. Cafarell
Clerk of the Court

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
1075    
CA 15-02043  
PRESENT: WHALEN, P.J., SMITH, DEJOSEPH, NEMOYER, AND TROUTMAN, JJ.     
                                                            
                                                            
JOHN GUTHRIE, MICHAEL PEDERSEN, LAWRENCE 
BRESEE, JULIA BRESEE, GARY CROMER AND KAREN 
CROMER, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,                                      
                                                            
V
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
                                                            
EDWARD L. MOSSOW AND SUSAN MOSSOW, 
DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. 
 
GIACONA LAW, P.C., AUBURN (DOMINIC V. GIACONA OF COUNSEL), FOR
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS.   
NORMAN J. CHIRCO, AUBURN, FOR DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.                  
                                                                      
Appeal from a judgment (denominated order) of the Supreme Court,
Cayuga County (Thomas G. Leone, A.J.), entered February 12, 2015.  The
judgment declared that the right in common to use certain undivided
lakeshore has not been extinguished and that defendants have a common
right to use such property as a community beach.  
It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is
unanimously modified on the law by converting the action to one
pursuant to RPAPL article 15, vacating the declarations, and
dismissing the complaint, and as modified the judgment is affirmed
without costs. 
Memorandum:  The parties are owners of property in the
Manchester-Kilmer Tract (Tract) in the Town of Cato.  The Tract, as
depicted in a filed subdivision map, consists of 99 numbered parcels
of equal dimensions, divided into three rows of 33 lots, bordering on
an undivided strip of land along the shore of Cross Lake.  Plaintiffs
own lots in the row closest to the lakeshore, and defendants own lots
in the row farthest from the lakeshore.
A dispute arose concerning the parties’ respective rights to the
use and possession of the undivided strip along the lakeshore, and
plaintiffs commenced this action seeking, inter alia, judgment
declaring that they are each the lawful owners in fee simple of that
part of the disputed strip abutting their respective lots.  Following
a nonjury trial, Supreme Court concluded, inter alia, that plaintiffs
failed to establish that they acquired title by adverse possession or
otherwise to the disputed strip abutting their respective lots, and it
issued declarations concerning the rights of the parties.

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CA 15-02043  
At the outset, we note that a declaratory judgment action is not
the proper procedural vehicle to determine title to disputed property
(see Franza v Olin, 73 AD3d 44, 45).  “Rather, the correct procedural
vehicle is an action pursuant to RPAPL 1501,” and we exercise our
power to convert that part of the action seeking declaratory judgment
to such an action (id.; see CPLR 103 [c]), and we vacate the
declarations.  Contrary to plaintiffs’ contention, we conclude that
the court properly determined that they failed to meet their burden of
establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that they had acquired
title to the portions of the disputed strip of lakeshore abutting
their properties (see Leitch v Jackson, 243 AD2d 873, 874), and we
therefore dismiss the complaint.  Finally, we note that plaintiffs
have not addressed in their brief any issues concerning their requests
for injunctive and other relief, and they have thus abandoned any such
issues (see Village of Gainesville v Hotis, 39 AD3d 1167, 1168;
Ciesinski v Town of Aurora, 202 AD2d 984, 984).  
Entered:  December 23, 2016
Frances E. Cafarell
Clerk of the Court

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
1077    
CA 15-01199  
PRESENT: WHALEN, P.J., SMITH, DEJOSEPH, NEMOYER, AND TROUTMAN, JJ.     
                                                            
                                                            
IN THE MATTER OF LEONIDES SIERRA, 
PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
                                                            
V
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
                                                            
ANTHONY ANNUCCI, ACTING COMMISSIONER, 
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS 
AND COMMUNITY SUPERVISION,        
RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.   
                                   
LEONIDES SIERRA, PETITIONER-APPELLANT PRO SE. 
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ALBANY (MARCUS J. MASTRACCO OF
COUNSEL), FOR RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.                                   
                 
Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Wyoming County
(Michael M. Mohun, A.J.), entered May 4, 2015 in a proceeding pursuant
to CPLR article 78.  The judgment dismissed the petition.  
It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is
unanimously affirmed without costs.
Memorandum:  Petitioner commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding
seeking to annul the determination, made after a tier III hearing,
that he violated inmate rule 1.00 (7 NYCRR 270.2 [A]).  Petitioner was
charged with the rule violation in a misbehavior report alleging that,
while confined in a state correctional facility, he was convicted of
violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
Act ([RICO] 18 USC § 1961 et seq.), specifically, that he conducted an
enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity that affected
interstate commerce (see 18 USC § 1962 [c], [d]; Salinas v United
States, 522 US 52, 62).  He appeals from a judgment dismissing the
petition.  We affirm.
Prior to arriving at the correctional facility at issue,
petitioner was convicted of the RICO offense, then remanded to the New
York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to
complete his state prison sentence.  After arriving at the
correctional facility and being placed in administrative quarantine
for one day, petitioner was charged with violating inmate rule 1.00
based upon his conviction of the above federal crime.  Petitioner
initially contends that the hearing was not held within the time
limits set forth in 7 NYCRR 251-5.1 (a).  Specifically, he contends
that he was previously confined for several weeks before the

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misbehavior report was written, and that such confinement was based on
the same acts that resulted in the misbehavior report because he was
administratively segregated during the federal prosecution.  “The
requirement that a hearing be commenced within seven days of ‘the
inmate’s initial confinement’ when he or she is ‘confined pending a
disciplinary hearing’ (see 7 NYCRR 251-5.1 [a]) was not breached, for
petitioner was placed in administrative segregation before the events
upon which the misbehavior report was premised—namely, the entry of
his guilty plea and the resulting conviction—occurred” (Matter of 
Soto-Rodriguez v Goord, 252 AD2d 782, 783; see Matter of Davis v
Goord, 21 AD3d 606, 609).  
Petitioner further contends that the hearing was untimely because
a handwritten notation of uncertain provenance on his request for
employee assistance establishes that he was confined for an additional
day before the report was written.  Even assuming, arguendo, that he
is correct about the authorship of that notation and its meaning, it
is well settled that, “[a]bsent a showing that substantial prejudice
resulted from the delay, the regulatory time limits are construed to
be directory rather than mandatory” (Matter of Van Gorder v New York
State Dept. of Corr. Serv., 42 AD3d 834, 835; see Matter of Al-Matin v
Prack, 131 AD3d 1293, 1293; Matter of Rosario v Selsky, 37 AD3d 921,
921-922), and petitioner has identified no prejudice from that single
additional day of confinement.
Petitioner also contends that he was unable to establish that he
was confined without a timely hearing during the period prior to the
filing of the misbehavior report, i.e., while he was administratively
confined during the federal prosecution, because he was denied the
right to present evidence and call witnesses that would establish such
improper prior confinement, and because he received inadequate
employee assistance when his employee assistant did not obtain
documents or interview the witnesses that would establish such
improper prior confinement.  We reject those contentions “inasmuch as
the evidence petitioner sought to present . . . [and the witnesses he
sought to call were] not relevant to the instant charges against
petitioner” (Matter of Jay v Fischer, 118 AD3d 1364, 1364, appeal
dismissed 24 NY3d 975; see Matter of Pujals v Fischer, 87 AD3d 767,
767; Matter of Mullen v Superintendent of Southport Corr. Facility, 29
AD3d 1244, 1244-1245).  “Likewise, petitioner’s claim that he was
denied effective employee assistance—premised as it is on the
assistant’s failure to obtain the same irrelevant documentation—is
without merit” (Matter of Mullen, 29 AD3d at 1245; see Matter of
Williams v Selsky, 257 AD2d 932, 933).
Finally, petitioner contends that the misbehavior report is
insufficient because it alleges a violation of inmate rule 1.00 (7
NYCRR 270.2 [A]), which states that “[a]ny Penal Law offense may be
referred to law enforcement agencies for prosecution through the
courts.  In addition, departmental sanctions may be imposed based upon
a criminal conviction.”  Petitioner contends that, because the first
sentence of the regulation applies only to violations of the Penal
Law, only criminal convictions under the Penal Law will support the
imposition of sanctions under the second sentence.  Therefore, he

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CA 15-01199  
contends, no sanctions may be imposed upon him because he was
convicted in United States District Court of a RICO crime.  We reject
petitioner’s contention.
Respondent, through the hearing officer, interpreted the
regulation at issue to permit the imposition of sanctions based upon a
conviction of any crime, and it is a “recognized principle of
administrative law that great weight is to be given to an
administrative agency’s interpretation of its own regulations” (People
ex rel. Knowles v Smith, 54 NY2d 259, 267; see Matter of Brooks v
Alexander, 64 AD3d 1096, 1098).  Thus, where “the construction adopted
by [the agency] is not irrational, it should be sustained” (Matter of
Hop Wah v Coughlin, 160 AD2d 1054, 1056; see Ostrer v Schenck, 41 NY2d
782, 786).  Here, we agree with respondent that the agency’s
interpretation of the regulation “as authorizing the inmate’s
[confinement] in these circumstances [is] not irrational” (Matter of
Blake v Mann, 75 NY2d 742, 743).
Entered:  December 23, 2016
Frances E. Cafarell
Clerk of the Court

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
1078    
CA 16-00075  
PRESENT: SMITH, J.P., DEJOSEPH, NEMOYER, AND TROUTMAN, JJ. 
                                                                 
                                                            
RAYMOND T. WEBBER AND DUANE WEBBER, 
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,  
                                                            
V
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
                                                            
LEE WEBBER AND GERALD T. FILIPIAK, 
DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. 
 
HARTER SECREST & EMERY LLP, BUFFALO (JOHN G. HORN OF COUNSEL), FOR
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS. 
LIPPES MATHIAS WEXLER FRIEDMAN LLP, BUFFALO (JENNIFER C. PERSICO OF
COUNSEL), FOR DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.                                  
                                         
Appeal from an order and judgment (one paper) of the Supreme
Court, Erie County (Timothy J. Walker, A.J.), entered August 18, 2015. 
The order and judgment awarded money damages to plaintiff Raymond T.
Webber upon a nonjury verdict.  
It is hereby ORDERED that said appeal insofar as it concerns that


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