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New York Attorneys Obtain Dismissal on Appeal in Property Damage Suit

New York City Partner Robert G. Macchia and Attorney Patrick T. Steinbauer recently prevailed on appeal by Plaintiff who sought leave of court to amend a complaint to add our client as a defendant to their lawsuit after the statute of limitations had expired. Plaintiff argued that the “relation-back doctrine” applied to deem the claim asserted against our client to “relate back” to the date the original claim was filed.

Plaintiff’s case involved property damage that was allegedly caused when a sewer pipe became clogged and sewage backed up and flowed onto their premises. At that time, our client was under contract with the local municipality to operate, maintain and repair the sewer system.

The Nassau County Supreme Court denied Plaintiff’s motion. On appeal, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the lower court’s decision and agreed with our argument that one of the elements of the relation-back doctrine was not met—that the new defendant must be united in interest with the original defendant, and by reason of that relationship, can be charged with notice of the institution of the action.

In order to be deemed “united in interest,” the defenses available to both defendants must be identical and one defendant must be vicariously liable for the acts of the other. Our attorneys contended that the proposed amended complaint did not demonstrate that either defendant was vicariously liable for the acts of the other.

In December 2022, the Appellate Court issued its decision agreeing with our attorneys, and dismissed the claim in its entirety.

Bob is a trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending property damage, personal injury and wrongful death claims. His cases often involve massive property damage or catastrophic injuries.

Patrick handles matters that involve property damage, personal injury, automobile accidents and asbestos lawsuits in New York state and federal courts.