Court Reverses Itself in Malpractice Insurance Ruling

, New York Law Journal


the judges of the Court of Appeals
Standing, left to right: Judges Jenny Rivera, Robert Smith, Susan Phillips Read, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, and Eugene Pigott Jr. Seated, Judge Victoria Graffeo and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman

Tuesday's ruling reversed the court's finding in K2 Inv. Group v. Am. Guar. & Liab. Ins. Co., 21 NY3d 384 (2013).

Kevin Coughlin of Coughlin Duffy in Manhattan represented American Guarantee.

Michael Haskel of Mineola argued for K2 and ATAS.

While the court has historically granted motions for reargument of cases very rarely, the pace has quickened recently.

It granted only one such motion between 2003 and 2011, but it reheard one previously decided case in 2012 and granted three reargument motions in 2013.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile) did not take part in the Tuesday ruling.

Nassau Tax Refund Dispute

In the Nassau County tax case, Matter of Baldwin Union Free School District v. County of Nassau, 9, the county found itself pitted against 41 of its school districts, other local governments and individual taxpayers.

Under a 1948 state law, Nassau County was given what was known locally as the "county guaranty," a special state tax law which made the county responsible for both property tax assessments and for the payment of refunds when courts decide in certiorari litigation that taxpayers are due them because of overassessments.

A 2010 change by the Nassau County Legislature kept the county responsible for the assessments, but made school districts, towns and other local taxing authorities liable to pay a share of tax refunds.

A 7-0 Court of Appeals ruled that the county legislature did not have the authority to make the 2010 change embodied in Local Law 18 without state approval.

"The State Legislature has not delegated to the County the prerogative to supersede a special State tax law, and this lack of authority is fatal to Local Law 18," Abdus-Salaam wrote for the court.

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