Westchester Partner Julia Braun Obtained Complete Dismissal of Professional Liability Claim for Firm’s Client

December 2022

Westchester Partner Julia Braun obtained a complete dismissal of a professional liability claim against the firm’s client. 

The claim involved a gas explosion in an apartment complex in Brooklyn, New York.  The action against the firm’s client was based on architectural services completed more than ten years before the incident. Accordingly, the defense moved to dismiss pursuant to Sections 3211(h) and 214-d(1) of New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”). Enacted in 1996, CPLR 3211(h) was intended to heighten the court’s scrutiny of the complaint. CPLR 3211(h) shifts the burden to the party responding to the motion to demonstrate that a substantial basis in law exists that the licensed architect was negligent and that such performance, conduct, or omission was a proximate cause of the injury.

The defense argued that not only had the plaintiff failed to serve a Notice of Claim (a condition precedent to commencing a lawsuit), as is required against a professional engineer/architect if the alleged negligent services were completed more than ten years before the commencement of the action, but also failed to demonstrate a substantial basis for the claim. After a lengthy oral argument, the court granted the motion to dismiss.