January 1, 2020

Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP is proud to announce that David S. Pallai has been elected Equity Partner of the firm.  David, a successful trial attorney who started with DSB as Counsel in 2004, continues to handle complex casualty, insurance, and municipal defense cases through verdict.  David leads the firm’s team of attorneys in its Garden City office.

December 18, 2019

DSB was successful in opposing an appeal of an order granting summary judgment to a Suffolk County municipality regarding a case involving labor law claims.  The Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed with a lower court decision where it was determined that a labor law plaintiff was not entitled to recovery from the municipality in that the municipality did not contract for the plaintiff’s services, or have an interest in the loss location.  The Appellate Division also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the motion was premature.

December 13, 2019

DSB successfully opposed a motion for summary judgment by a Plaintiff on a restrictive covenant claim.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated a restrictive covenant prohibiting fences exceeding four-feet in height.  The Suffolk County Judge who decided the motion agreed with this firm’s argument that the covenant had been ignored by other owners, including the plaintiff, and had outlived its usefulness.  As such, this firm had raised triable issues of fact sufficient to defeat the plaintiff’s motion.

December 2, 2019

DSB was successful in moving for summary judgment on behalf of a commercial tenant in queens county. Plaintiff was allegedly injured while climbing a set of stairs inside a commercial property owned by co-defendant. The court found that the tenant defendant did not owe a duty of care to plaintiff to protect against a fall within a common area of the building, nor was there a lease in effect that required the tenant to maintain the area.

November 18, 2019

The Appellate Division, Second Department recently affirmed an order granting a motion for summary judgment made by DSB dismissing a complaint against a Town, which was based on the Town’s operation of its 911 emergency call system. Plaintiff had alleged that the Town’s negligence in the operation in the system resulted in the death of her husband. The Appellate Division ruled that the Town established that no special relationship existed between it and the decedent which would give rise to a duty of care to the decedent, individually.

November 13, 2019

DSB was recently successful in moving for summary judgment in favor of a Suffolk County school district.  Plaintiff, a middle-school student, claimed to have been injured when he was tripped in the hallway by another student; the plaintiff asserted that the District did not provide adequate supervision.  The Court found that the District demonstrated that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the third-party student engaging in conduct similar to that alleged, i.e. tripping other students.  The Court also concluded that any purported lack of supervision was not a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

October 29, 2019

DSB prevailed on appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department on a premises liability claim where the property owner sought common-law and contractual indemnification from the firm’s client, a commercial tenant in a strip mall.  The Appellate Division, First Department unanimously agreed that the commercial tenant neither occupied nor controlled any portion of the sidewalk, as required to invoke the indemnification provisions under the lease.  Accordingly, the owner was not entitled to common-law or contractual indemnification.  The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s order dismissing the complaint in its entirety.

October 9, 2019

DSB was successful in moving for summary judgment on behalf of a Suffolk County homeowner relative to a “dog bite” incident. Plaintiff, a bicyclist, claimed to have been injured when defendant’s dog broke free from its retractable leash, chasing plaintiff and causing plaintiff to fall from his bicycle. The Court determined that the defendant did not have notice of the dog’s alleged vicious propensities and, further, that any alleged violation of the local “leash law” did not confer liability against defendant as New York law does not recognize a common law negligence cause of action for injuries caused by a domestic animal.

October 2, 2019

DSB’s trial attorney team obtained a defense verdict on a liability jury trial in Supreme Court, Kings County. Plaintiff alleged that he sustained injuries to his back, knees, and hand and subsequently underwent two surgeries, after he fell from a ladder while installing cable at defendant’s rental property. Plaintiff alleged the fall occurred because a decorative cornice that lined the top of the building’s façade was in an unsafe condition, which caused it to collapse under the pressure of plaintiff’s work ladder, causing Plaintiff to fall. The jury returned a unanimous verdict that the condition was not unsafe.

September 20, 2019

DSB succeeded in achieving dismissal of a Complaint against a school district in New York State Supreme Court, County of Suffolk, which sought money damages, including punitive damages, for breach of contract, negligence, and intentional torts, allegedly arising out of a school district’s refusal to enroll a child. The Court found that it did not have jurisdiction to consider plaintiffs’ claims that the district breached a contract regarding the enrollment of nonresident pupil — the Court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because the plaintiffs were at most, at most, incidental third-party beneficiaries of the agreement. The Court also found that plaintiffs’ tort claims were both untimely and without merit. In this regard, the Court decisively held that tort claims for money damage arising from a school district’s alleged failure to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and related state regulations, are not cognizable as a matter of law. Finally, the Court found that the individual school board members were immune from suit and that punitive damages could not be recovered against a school district.