Appellate Division Bars Plaintiff from Amending Complaint to Assert Claim for Punitive Damages Against Contractor

In a decision dated December 14, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department unanimously reversed a Supreme Court, Bronx County order that granted the plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint to include punitive damages against our client, Grace Industries, LLC. The plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident on a highway that was in the process of being resurfaced by our client. After some discovery, the lower court allowed the plaintiff to amend his complaint to include a claim for punitive damages as against Grace. The basis for the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages, among other things, was Grace’s off-road storage of a paver and its failure to fill in a trench on the side of the road. In reversing the lower court’s decision, the First Department determined that the conduct put forth by the plaintiff, if proven, was insufficient for the imposition of punitive damages, because it could not be viewed as a conscious and deliberate disregard of the rights of others. Accordingly, leave to amend the plaintiff’s complaint was denied.

Britz v. Grace Industries, LLC, et al., 156 A.D.3d 533, 65 N.Y.S.3d 453 (1st Dep’t 2017)

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