senate Bill S6655A

2011-2012 Legislative Session

Relates to the consideration of equitable claims and defenses in small claims actions

download bill text pdf

Sponsored By

Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

do you support this bill?

Actions

view actions (12)
Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jun 21, 2012 committed to rules
Jun 12, 2012 amended on third reading (t) 6655a
vote reconsidered - restored to third reading
Jun 11, 2012 returned to senate
recalled from assembly
May 16, 2012 referred to judiciary
delivered to assembly
passed senate
May 07, 2012 advanced to third reading
May 02, 2012 2nd report cal.
May 01, 2012 1st report cal.627
Mar 08, 2012 referred to judiciary

Bill Amendments

Original
A (Active)
Original
A (Active)

Co-Sponsors

S6655 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
New York City Civil Court Act
Laws Affected:
Amd §1804, NYC Civ Ct Act; amd §1804, UDCA; amd §1804, UCCA; amd §1804, UJCA

S6655 - Bill Texts

view summary

Relates to the consideration of equitable claims and defenses in small claims actions.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S6655

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the New York city civil court act, the uniform district court
act, the uniform city court act, and the uniform justice court act, in
relation to the consideration of equitable claims and defenses in small
claims actions

This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of
the Chief Administrative Judge upon the recommendation of her Local
Courts Advisory Committee.

This measure amends the New York City Civil Court Act, the Uniform
District Court Act, the Uniform City Court Act, and the Uniform
Justice Court Act to authorize the court to consider equitable claims
and defenses in small claims actions.

A small claim is a cause of action for money not in excess of $5,000,
in the New York City Civil Court, the District Courts and the City
Court, or $ 3,000 in the Town and Village Justice Courts).

In deciding a small claim, the court is required to do "substantial
justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive
law." See NYCCCA § 1804; UDCA § 1804; UCCA § 1804; UJCA § 1804
[requiring the court to enforce the duties and obligations created by
the law without requiring the claimant to comply with the technical
rules for establishing his or her right to their enforcement]. Under
this mandate, the court must play a more proactive role in the
litigation so as to ensure that small claims are resolved in accord
with the law. Accordingly, a small claims court has wide discretion
in issuing a judgment that does substantial justice between the
parties. See Buonomo v.
Stalker, 40 A.D.2d 733, 733 (4th Dept. 1972); Roundtree v. Singh, 143
AD.2d 995, 996 (2d Dept. 1988); Miller v. Sanchez, 6 Misc.3d 479, 482
(N.Y.C. Civ. Ct. 2004). The mandate to do substantial justice,
however, does not confer upon the small claims court
the authority to grant equitable relief. See Cucinotta v. Hanulak, 231
A.D.2d 904, 905 (2d Dept. 1996); TR Construction v. Fischer, 2010 WL
979702, *2 (Watertown City Ct.
2010); Scott v. Dale Carpet Cleaning Inc., 120 Misc.2d 118, 119
(N.Y.C. Civ. Ct. 1983).

The problem is that while equitable relief in the form of specific
performance, injunction, or declaratory judgment would be
inappropriate in a small claims context given the nature of such
claims, the blanket prohibition against doing equity in a small
claims action precludes the use of equitable principles of justice,
such as the doctrines of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, laches,
and equitable estoppel. Authorizing a small claims court to consider
those principles would aid a small claims court in the performance of

its mandate to do substantial justice between the small claims
litigants with respect to a claim for money.

This measure would have no fiscal impact upon the State. It would take
effect on the first day of January next succeeding the date on which
it shall have become a law.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
None. New proposal.

view full text
download pdf
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  6655

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              March 8, 2012
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. BONACIC -- (at request of the Office of Court Admin-
  istration) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed  to  be
  committed to the Committee on Judiciary

AN  ACT to amend the New York city civil court act, the uniform district
  court act, the uniform city court act, and the uniform  justice  court
  act, in relation to the consideration of equitable claims and defenses
  in small claims actions

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Section 1804 of the New  York  city  civil  court  act,  as
amended  by  chapter  650  of  the  laws  of 1991, is amended to read as
follows:
  S 1804. Informal and simplified procedure on small claims.  The  court
shall  conduct  hearings  upon  small  claims  in  such  manner as to do
substantial justice between  the  parties  according  to  the  rules  of
substantive  law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or rules
of  practice,  procedure,  pleading  or   evidence,   except   statutory
provisions  relating  to  privileged  communications and personal trans-
actions or communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.    THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING,  BUT  NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL. An item-
ized bill or invoice, receipted or marked paid, or  two  itemized  esti-
mates  for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are prima
facie evidence of the reasonable value and necessity  of  such  services
and  repairs.  Disclosure shall be unavailable in small claims procedure
except upon order of the court on showing of  proper  circumstances.  In
every  small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct of
the defendant's business at the hearing on  the  matter,  the  judge  or
arbitrator  shall  determine the appropriate state or local licensing or
certifying authority and any business  or  professional  association  of
which  the  defendant  is  a  member. The provisions of this act and the
rules of this court, together with  the  statutes  and  rules  governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD14139-01-2

S. 6655                             2

so  far  as the same can be made applicable and are not in conflict with
the provisions of this article; in case of conflict, the  provisions  of
this article shall control.
  S  2.  Section  1804  of the uniform district court act, as amended by
chapter 650 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows:
S 1804. Informal and simplified procedure on small claims.    The  court
shall  conduct  hearings  upon  small  claims  in  such  manner as to do
substantial justice between  the  parties  according  to  the  rules  of
substantive  law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or rules
of  practice,  procedure,  pleading  or   evidence,   except   statutory
provisions  relating  to  privileged  communications and personal trans-
actions or communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.    THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING,  BUT  NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL. An item-
ized bill or invoice, receipted or marked paid, or  two  itemized  esti-
mates  for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are prima
facie evidence of the reasonable value and necessity  of  such  services
and  repairs.  Disclosure shall be unavailable in small claims procedure
except upon order of the court on showing of  proper  circumstances.  In
every  small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct of
the defendant's business at the hearing on  the  matter,  the  judge  or
arbitrator  shall  determine the appropriate state or local licensing or
certifying authority and any business  or  professional  association  of
which  the  defendant  is  a  member. The provisions of this act and the
rules of this court, together with  the  statutes  and  rules  governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article
so  far  as the same can be made applicable and are not in conflict with
the provisions of this article; in case of conflict, the  provisions  of
this article shall control.
  S 3. Section 1804 of the uniform city court act, as amended by chapter
650 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows:
S 1804. Informal and simplified procedure on small claims.
  The  court  shall conduct hearings upon small claims in such manner as
to do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules  of
substantive  law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or rules
of  practice,  procedure,  pleading  or   evidence,   except   statutory
provisions  relating  to  privileged  communications and personal trans-
actions or communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.    THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING,  BUT  NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL. An item-
ized bill or invoice, receipted or marked paid, or  two  itemized  esti-
mates  for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are prima
facie evidence of the reasonable value and necessity  of  such  services
and  repairs.  Disclosure shall be unavailable in small claims procedure
except upon order of the court on showing of  proper  circumstances.  In
every  small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct of
the defendant's business at the hearing on  the  matter,  the  judge  or
arbitrator  shall  determine the appropriate state or local licensing or
certifying authority and any business  or  professional  association  of
which  the  defendant  is  a  member. The provisions of this act and the
rules of this court, together with  the  statutes  and  rules  governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article
so  far  as the same can be made applicable and are not in conflict with

S. 6655                             3

the provisions of this article; in case of conflict, the  provisions  of
this article shall control.
  S  4.  Section  1804  of  the uniform justice court act, as amended by
chapter 650 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows:
S 1804. Informal and simplified procedure on small claims.
  The court shall conduct hearings upon small claims in such  manner  as
to  do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules of
substantive law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or  rules
of   practice,   procedure,   pleading  or  evidence,  except  statutory
provisions relating to privileged  communications  and  personal  trans-
actions  or  communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.  THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL.  An  item-
ized  bill  or  invoice, receipted or marked paid, or two itemized esti-
mates for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are  prima
facie  evidence  of  the reasonable value and necessity of such services
and repairs. Disclosure shall be unavailable in small  claims  procedure
except  upon  order  of the court on showing of proper circumstances. In
every small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct  of
the  defendant's  business  at  the  hearing on the matter, the judge or
arbitrator shall determine the appropriate state or local  licensing  or
certifying  authority  and  any  business or professional association of
which the defendant is a member.   The provisions of this  act  and  the
rules  of  this  court,  together  with the statutes and rules governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article
so far as the same can be made applicable and are not in  conflict  with
the  provisions  of this article; in case of conflict, the provisions of
this article shall control.
  S 5. This act shall take effect on the first of January next  succeed-
ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

Co-Sponsors

S6655A (ACTIVE) - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
New York City Civil Court Act
Laws Affected:
Amd §1804, NYC Civ Ct Act; amd §1804, UDCA; amd §1804, UCCA; amd §1804, UJCA

S6655A (ACTIVE) - Bill Texts

view summary

Relates to the consideration of equitable claims and defenses in small claims actions.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S6655A

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the New York city civil court act, the uniform district court
act, and
the uniform city court act, in
relation to the consideration of equitable claims and defenses in small
claims actions

This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of
the Chief Administrative Judge upon the recommendation of her Local
Courts Advisory Committee.

This measure amends the New York City Civil Court Act, the Uniform
District Court Act, and the Uniform City Court Act to authorize the
court to consider equitable claims and defenses in small claims
actions.

A small claim is a cause of action for money not in excess of $5,000,
in the New York City Civil Court, the District Courts and the City
Courts.

In deciding a small claim, the court is required to do "substantial
justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive
law." See NYCCCA §1804; UDCA § 1804; UCCA § 1804 (requiring the court
to enforce the duties and obligations created by the law without
requiring the claimant to comply with the technical rules for
establishing his or her right to their enforcement). Under this
mandate, the court must play a more proactive role in the litigation
so as to ensure that small claims are resolved in accord with the
law. Accordingly, a small claims court has wide discretion in issuing
a judgment that does substantial justice between the parties. See
Buonomo v. Stalker, 40 A.D.2d 733, 733 (4th Dept. 1972); Roundtree v.
Singh, 143 A.D.2d 995,996 (2d Dept. 1988); Miller v.
Sanchez, 6 Misc.3d 479,482 (N.Y.C. Civ. Ct. 2004). The mandate to do
substantial justice, however, does not confer upon the small claims
court the authority to grant equitable relief. See Cucinotta v.
Hanulak, 231 A.D.2d 904, 905 (2d Dept. 1996); TR
Construction v. Fischer, 2010 WL 979702, *2 (Watertown City Ct. 2010);
Scott v. Dale Carpet Cleaning Inc., 120 Misc.2d 118, 119 (N.Y.C. Civ.
Ct. 1983).

The problem is that while equitable relief in the form of specific
performance, injunction, or declaratory judgment would be
inappropriate in a small claims context given the nature of such
claims, the blanket prohibition against doing equity in a small
claims action precludes the use of equitable principles of justice,
such as the doctrines of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, laches,
and equitable estoppel. Authorizing a small claims court to consider
those principles would aid a small claims court in the performance of

its mandate to do substantial justice between the small claims
litigants with respect to a claim for money.

This measure would not affect small claims proceedings in the Town and
Village Justice Courts.

This measure would have no fiscal impact upon the State. It would take
effect on the first day of January next succeeding the date on which
it shall have become a law.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
OCA 2012-69 Senate 6655 (Sen. Bonacic) (ref to Jud)

view full text
download pdf
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 6655--A
    Cal. No. 627

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              March 8, 2012
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  BONACIC,  HASSELL-THOMPSON  -- (at request of the
  Office of Court Administration) -- read twice and ordered printed, and
  when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary -- reported
  favorably from said committee, ordered to  first  and  second  report,
  ordered  to  a  third  reading,  passed by Senate and delivered to the
  Assembly, recalled, vote  reconsidered,  restored  to  third  reading,
  amended  and  ordered  reprinted,  retaining its place in the order of
  third reading

AN ACT to amend the New York city civil court act, the uniform  district
  court  act, and the uniform city court act, in relation to the consid-
  eration of equitable claims and defenses in small claims actions

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1.  Section  1804  of  the  New York city civil court act, as
amended by chapter 650 of the laws  of  1991,  is  amended  to  read  as
follows:
  S  1804.  Informal and simplified procedure on small claims. The court
shall conduct hearings upon  small  claims  in  such  manner  as  to  do
substantial  justice  between  the  parties  according  to  the rules of
substantive law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or  rules
of   practice,   procedure,   pleading  or  evidence,  except  statutory
provisions relating to privileged  communications  and  personal  trans-
actions  or  communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.  THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL.  An  item-
ized  bill  or  invoice, receipted or marked paid, or two itemized esti-
mates for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are  prima
facie  evidence  of  the reasonable value and necessity of such services
and repairs. Disclosure shall be unavailable in small  claims  procedure
except  upon  order  of the court on showing of proper circumstances. In
every small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct  of
the  defendant's  business  at  the  hearing on the matter, the judge or
arbitrator shall determine the appropriate state or local  licensing  or

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD14139-02-2

S. 6655--A                          2

certifying  authority  and  any  business or professional association of
which the defendant is a member. The provisions  of  this  act  and  the
rules  of  this  court,  together  with the statutes and rules governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article
so  far  as the same can be made applicable and are not in conflict with
the provisions of this article; in case of conflict, the  provisions  of
this article shall control.
  S  2.  Section  1804  of the uniform district court act, as amended by
chapter 650 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows:
S 1804. Informal and simplified procedure on small claims.
  The court shall conduct hearings upon small claims in such  manner  as
to  do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules of
substantive law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or  rules
of   practice,   procedure,   pleading  or  evidence,  except  statutory
provisions relating to privileged  communications  and  personal  trans-
actions  or  communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.  THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL.  An  item-
ized  bill  or  invoice, receipted or marked paid, or two itemized esti-
mates for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are  prima
facie  evidence  of  the reasonable value and necessity of such services
and repairs.  Disclosure shall be unavailable in small claims  procedure
except  upon  order  of the court on showing of proper circumstances. In
every small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct  of
the  defendant's  business  at  the  hearing on the matter, the judge or
arbitrator shall determine the appropriate state or local  licensing  or
certifying  authority  and  any  business or professional association of
which the defendant is a member. The provisions  of  this  act  and  the
rules  of  this  court,  together  with the statutes and rules governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article
so far as the same can be made applicable and are not in  conflict  with
the  provisions  of this article; in case of conflict, the provisions of
this article shall control.
  S 3. Section 1804 of the uniform city court act, as amended by chapter
650 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows:
S 1804. Informal and simplified procedure on small claims.
  The court shall conduct hearings upon small claims in such  manner  as
to  do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules of
substantive law and shall not be bound by statutory provisions or  rules
of   practice,   procedure,   pleading  or  evidence,  except  statutory
provisions relating to privileged  communications  and  personal  trans-
actions  or  communications with a decedent or mentally ill person.  THE
COURT MAY CONSIDER EQUITABLE CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, UNJUST ENRICHMENT AND QUANTUM MERUIT, AND EQUITABLE DEFENSES
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LACHES AND EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL.  An  item-
ized  bill  or  invoice, receipted or marked paid, or two itemized esti-
mates for services or repairs, are admissible in evidence and are  prima
facie  evidence  of  the reasonable value and necessity of such services
and repairs. Disclosure shall be unavailable in small  claims  procedure
except  upon  order  of the court on showing of proper circumstances. In
every small claims action, where the claim arises out of the conduct  of
the  defendant's  business  at  the  hearing on the matter, the judge or
arbitrator shall determine the appropriate state or local  licensing  or
certifying  authority  and  any  business or professional association of
which the defendant is a member. The provisions  of  this  act  and  the

S. 6655--A                          3

rules  of  this  court,  together  with the statutes and rules governing
supreme court practice, shall apply to claims brought under this article
so far as the same can be made applicable and are not in  conflict  with
the  provisions  of this article; in case of conflict, the provisions of
this article shall control.
  S 4.  This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed-
ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

Comments

Open Legislation comments facilitate discussion of New York State legislation. All comments are subject to moderation. Comments deemed off-topic, commercial, campaign-related, self-promotional; or that contain profanity or hate speech; or that link to sites outside of the nysenate.gov domain are not permitted, and will not be published. Comment moderation is generally performed Monday through Friday.

By contributing or voting you agree to the Terms of Participation and verify you are over 13.