Claimant moves for a stay of the instant action pursuant to CPLR 2201 pending
the resolution of a related federal court action or, in the alternative, for an
Order compelling the defendant to take the claimant's deposition in its New York
County office at the same time it takes his deposition in the federal action or,
in the alternative, compelling the defendant to take the claimant's deposition
at its New York County office, and granting a protective order precluding the
defendant from taking the claimant's deposition while the instant motion is
pending. Claimant alleges that the Department of Correctional Services knowingly
confined him to prison for 31 days beyond his maximum release date and seeks
damages for "unlawful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, over-detention,
wrongful detention, illegal detention, assault, battery, intentional and/or
negligent infliction of emotional distress, deliberate indifference to
claimant's rights and to his protestations concerning the expiration of his
maximum release date, and violations of his civil rights, all without remorse or
regret, and with total disregard for the Claimant, and his constitutional and
legal rights" (claimant's Exhibit D, ¶ 4).
Based upon these same set of facts, the claimant also commenced an action in
the federal court against the City of New York and individuals employed by the
City and the State of New York. With respect to the individually named State
employees, the federal complaint alleges civil rights causes of action pursuant
to 42 USC §§ 1983, 1985 and 1988, common law causes of action for
assault, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and a cause of
action under the Eighth Amendment for deliberate indifference.
In support of the motion, claimant's counsel avers that although the federal
action was commenced a short time after the instant action, both cases are in
the early stages of discovery and depositions have not been held in either case.
He contends that the underlying facts in both matters are the same and "[a]ll
but one of the individual defendants in the federal court case are State
employees who are entitled to defense and indemnification from the State."
Claimant argues that a stay of the instant action is warranted because a
resolution of the matter in the Court of Claims will not obviate the need for a
trial against the City of New York and its individually named employee in the
federal forum. "Conversely, should claimant prevail against the State
defendants in the federal court case that would likely obviate the need for a
trial in this Court because the State would have to indemnify its employees",
(Affirmation of Eric E. Rothstein dated October 21, 2008, ¶ 18).
In opposition to claimant's motion, defense counsel indicates that there is no
"guarantee" that resolution of the federal court action will eliminate the need
for a trial in the Court of Claims and that "defendant will be potentially
prejudiced by an undetermined and extended delay in the discovery process"
(Affirmation In Opposition, ¶ 4).
CPLR 2201 permits the Court to stay an action in a "proper case, upon such
terms as may be just." A case is properly stayed " 'where the decision in one
action will determine all the questions in the other action, and the judgment on
one trial will dispose of the controversy in both actions' " (Kubricky
Constr. Corp. v Bucon, Inc., 282 AD2d 796, 797  quoting People v
C. & W. Constr. Co., 246 App Div 373, 375 ). A stay may be issued
where appropriate to avoid "the risk of inconsistent adjudications, duplication
of proof, and the potential waste of judicial resources" (El Greco Inc. v
Cohn, 139 AD2d 615, 617 ). While complete identity of parties,
claims and relief sought are generally required, the Appellate Division, Third
Department, has acknowledged that the cases are not uniform on this point and
that a stay may be imposed so long as the causes of action are "sufficiently
similar such that the goals of preserving judicial resources and preventing an
inequitable result are properly served" (National Mgt. Corp. v Adolfi,
277 AD2d 553, 554-555 ). Thus, even where there is not a complete
identity of parties, a stay is warranted where "there [are] overlapping issues
and common questions of law and fact" and the determination in one action may
dispose of or limit issues for determination in the other (Belopolsky v Renew
Data Corp., 41 AD3d 322, 322-323 ; see also Buzzell v
Mills, 32 AD2d 897 ; Sakhuja v New York Med. Coll., 225 AD2d
391 , lv denied 88 NY2d 816 ).
Here, the facts giving rise to both the federal court action and the Court of
Claims action are the same and the issues for determination overlap. The
complaint in the federal court action raises not only the civil rights causes of
action but the very same State law claims as are asserted here (see
claimant's Exhibit E). As a result, the Court finds that issuance of a stay of
the instant action would avoid the risk of inconsistent adjudications,
duplication of proof and the potential waste of judicial resources.
That the State of New York is not a party to the federal court action is not
determinative where it is the real party in interest. Although the State of New
York is excluded from liability under § 1983, it is well recognized that
the State is the real party in interest when an employee of the State is sued
for actions taken while acting within the scope of his or her employment
(Haywood v Drown, 9 NY3d 481, 489-490 ; Public Officers Law §
17 , ). Thus, the fact that the State is not a party in the federal court
action does not foreclose the imposition of a stay where it is the real party in
interest and the underlying policy goals will be served by the imposition of a
stay. Additionally, inasmuch as the City of New York and its employee are
parties to the federal action, a more complete disposition of the issues may be
obtained in the federal court action (see El Greco Inc. v Cohn,
139 AD2d at 616-617).
Accordingly, claimant's motion is granted and it is hereby
ORDERED that the action is stayed pending a final resolution of the federal
court action, including all appeals; and it is further
ORDERED that claimant shall notify the Court of the final resolution of the
federal court action within fifteen days thereof.