This appeal arose from Respondent Town of Liberty enacting Local Law No. 2 (2011), and Petitioners subsequently commencing a proceeding seeking to annul the law, naming as respondents the Town, respondent Gary Zalkin (doing business as Liberty Scrap Metal) and respondent Ben Weitsman and Son, Inc. (hereinafter collectively referred to as the original respondents). The original respondents moved to dismiss the petition on the ground that petitioners failed to name as necessary parties the owners of the parcels of real property affected by the zoning law. The trial court agreed and ordered petitioners to file and serve an amended petition adding such property owners as respondents. By the time the amended petition adding these parties was filed, the statute of limitations had expired. The trial court dismissed the petition against the later-added respondents on statute of limitation grounds and, as a result, dismissed the remainder of the petition against the original respondents due to petitioners’ failure to timely join necessary parties.
For the relation back doctrine to apply, and thus entitle the petitioners to relief, petitioners were required to demonstrate: 1) that the claims arose out of the same occurrance; 2) that the later-added respondents were united in interest with the original respondents; and 3) that the later-added respondents knew or should have known that, but for a mistake by petitioners as to the identity of the proper parties, the proceeding would have been brought against them as well. However, the original respondents consist of the municipality that enacted the zoning law at issue and the entities that purportedly sought the zoning changes, whereas the later-added respondents are the owners of the real property affected by the zoning changes. Accordingly, there was no unity of interest between the parties. As to the third prong, because the petitioners were fully aware of the existence of these property owners but “failed to appreciate that they were legally required to be named in proceedings of this type,” petitioners’ error was not encompassed by the doctrine. The court therefore affirmed the dismissal of the petitioners’ claims.
Ayuda Re Funding, LLC v Town of Liberty, 2014 WL 5470801 (NYAD 3 Dept. 10/30/2014)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/ad3/Decisions/2014/517959.pdf