This is a case of appeal being heard in the Second Department, Appellate Division, of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The plaintiffs are seeking an appeal from an order made in the Supreme Court of Kings County that denied their motion for leave to serve a complaint on either the insurance carrier of the defendant or the lawyers who represented the company in a personal injury action. The order granted the defendants cross motion to impose costs upon the plaintiffs to the extent of $1000 to be paid to the lawyers of the defendants.
A prior action was started by the plaintiffs to recover damages for injuries sustained by the plaintiff when she fell on a dance floor that was wet at the catering hall owned by the defendant. On the date that the case was scheduled for trial the parties settled the case in open court in front of a justice in the Supreme Court of Kings County. The plaintiff was awarded $7500 and signed a general release. A check was given to the plaintiffs and their attorneys.
The plaintiffs then moved to vacate the stipulation of the settlement on the ground that they did not know the extent and severity of the injury at the time of the settlement. The plaintiff issued an affidavit that stated “at the time I appeared before the court I had not fully appraised my injuries.”
The plaintiff states that she is still under the care of an orthopedist. She further alleges that she has suffered from more serious injuries than they initially thought when they agreed to the settlement and the amended and supplemental bill of particulars verifies this. The orthopedist states in the bill of particulars that the plaintiff is definitely disabled and the symptoms and disability in her right knee are related to the accident that occurred at the defendant’s establishment.
Court Discussion and Decision
In order to be granted relief from a stipulation that was entered in open court in the presence of the parties and their counsel the party must show good cause, such as a mistake, collision, or that they were under duress at the time of the signing. In this particular case, the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate good cause.
The fact that the plaintiff later discovered that her injuries were more severe than she originally thought is not the kind of mistake that would relieve a party of their obligation from a signed contract simply because in hindsight the settlement seems to have been a bad deal for them.
The plaintiffs first filed a notice of appeal, but are now moving for a re-argument of their case. However, after reviewing the facts of the case the court finds that the Supreme Court of Kings County was correct in their ruling in favor of the defendants. The original order made by the Kings County Supreme Court is hereby affirmed and the case for appeal and/or re-argument is dismissed.
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