New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

METZ v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-039-093, Claim No. 113310, Motion No. M-74890


Synopsis


Motion for joint trial of seven related claims granted. Each of the seven claims arises out of the capsizing of The Ethan Allen, and a determination of liability with respect to all of the claims necessarily involves consideration of common issues of law and fact. Moreover, none of the parties oppose the motion.

Case Information

UID:
2008-039-093
Claimant(s):
RICHARD M. METZ, as Personal Representative of the Estate of MARY HELEN METZ, Deceased, and FREDERICK M. METZ
Claimant short name:
METZ
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113310
Motion number(s):
M-74890
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
James H. Ferreira
Claimant’s attorney:
Hacker & Murphy, LLPBy: Thomas D. Buchanan
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Glenn C. KingAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 17, 2008
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)
2008-039-096, 2008-039-097, 2008-039-098


Decision

The above-captioned claimants (claim numbers 113310, 114278, 114950 and 114949) (hereinafter movants) seek damages for the alleged wrongful deaths and personal injuries sustained by various passengers on October 2, 2005 when a tour boat, known as The Ethan Allen, capsized on Lake George, New York. Three related claims (claim numbers 114931, 114940 and 114313) for the alleged wrongful deaths and personal injuries sustained by passengers as a result of the capsizing of The Ethan Allen were also filed with the Court. Issue was joined with respect to all claims, and movants now seek an order from the Court granting a joint trial of the seven claims pending before the Court.

Movants provided notice of their motion for a joint trial to the attorneys of record in the three related claims. On July 17, 2008, the Court sent a letter to the attorneys of record in all seven claims requesting that each claimant and defendant file a letter or affirmation in response to the application for a joint trial. The Court received written responses from the attorneys of record in the three related claims indicating that they do not oppose movants’ application for a joint trial. It is well settled that “[t]he power to order that pending actions be determined by a joint trial rests in the sound discretion of the trial court” (Fashion Tanning Co., Inc. v D’Errico & Farhart Agency, Inc., 105 AD2d 1034, 1035 [1984]). A joint trial is appropriate when “there are questions of law and fact common to all . . . actions and . . . the interests of justice and judicial economy are better served,” (Farrell v Lautob Realty Corp., 204 AD2d 597, 599 [1994]) unless the opponent of such a motion meets its “ ‘burden of showing prejudice to a substantial right’ ” (Fashion Tanning Co., Inc. v D’Errico & Farhart Agency, Inc., supra at 1035, quoting Maigur v Saratogian, Inc., 47 AD2d 982, 983 [1975]).

Here, each of the seven claims arises out of the capsizing of The Ethan Allen on October 2, 2005, and a determination of liability with respect to all of the claims necessarily involves consideration of common issues of law and fact (see Farrell v Lautob Realty Corp., supra; Ingle v Glamore Motor Sales, Inc., 111 AD2d 746, 748 [1985]). Moreover, none of the parties oppose the application. In consideration of the foregoing, “and since the interests of justice and judicial economy are better served by a joint trial” (Farrell v Lautob Realty Corp., supra ), the motion is granted.

Accordingly, M-74890 is hereby granted and a joint trial of claim nos. 113310, 114278, 114950, 114949, 114931, 114940 and 114313 is ordered.


September 17, 2008
Albany, New York

HON. JAMES H. FERREIRA
Judge of the Court of Claims


Papers Considered
:
  1. Notice of Motion dated May 1, 2008;
  2. Affirmation of Thomas D. Buchanan, Esq. in Support of Motion for Joint Trial dated May 1, 2008 with exhibit;
  3. Correspondence dated July 21, 2008 by Glenn C. King, AAG;
  4. Correspondence dated July 23, 2008 by Meghan Rielly Keenholts, Esq.;
  5. Correspondence dated July 28, 2008 by Ven R. Johnson, Esq.; and
  6. Correspondence dated August 5, 2008 by Daniel O. Rose, Esq.