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Discovery Sanction against New York City Sets Stage for Probable Damages Award in False Imprisonment Suit

By Derek Gilna

In a decision published on December 8, 2009, from an appeal of parts of an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County dated November 28, 2007, which denied their motion to strike defendants' answer pursuant to CPLR. 3126(3), the lower court's order was reversed, the answer stricken, and the matter remitted to the Supreme Court, Queens County, for a hearing of the issue of damages.

The case arose from the arrest of plaintiff Byam for the homicide of Martin Sweeting on September 26, 1993. Byam was acquitted of that charge. His wife and he sued to recover damages for false arrest and malicious prosecution. The plaintiffs have been unsuccessful in obtaining discovery from the defendants, and the court cited their "willful and contumacious conduct... from their repeated failures, over an extended period of time, to comply with discovery orders, together with the inadequate, inconsistent, and unsupported excuses for those failure to disclose."

The discovery sanction, which resulted in the striking of defendants' answer, effectively ends the litigation in the plaintiff's favor, save the hearing on damages. Byam v. City of New York, 68 A.D.3d 798, 890 N.Y.S.2d 612 (2009).

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Related legal case

Byam v. City of New York