Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 28, 2018

NY Appellate Court Finds Jurisdiction was Unaffected by Potential Statute of Limitations Defense Involving Failure to Join a Necessary Party

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Respondents K–Tooling and Kuehn Manufacturing Co. operated a manufacturing businesses from a residentially-zoned property in the Village of Hancock, Delaware County. Rosa Kuehn owned Kuehn Manufacturing Co and the subject property, while her son, Perry Kuehn, owned K–Tooling. In 2001, an 800–square foot addition was constructed on the subject property, which the Kuehn respondents and Rosa Kuehn used for manufacturing operations pursuant to a use variance issued by respondent Village of Hancock Zoning Board of Appeals in 2016. Petitioners then commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding to annul that determination.

Following this, the Kuehn respondents joined issue, raised various affirmative defenses, and moved for dismissal of the petition on the ground that Rosa Kuehn was not named as a necessary party. The Supreme Court of New York denied petitioners’ motion to compel the ZBA to provide transcripts of the public hearings at which the use variance application was considered. The court then granted a motion by the Kuehn respondents for dismissal of the petition on the ground that Rosa Kuehn was a necessary party who was not properly joined. Petitioners appealed.

The court first noted on appeal that although the Supreme Court correctly found that Rosa Kuehn was a necessary party, it was error to dismiss the petition for failure to join her. Here, there was no dispute that Rosa Kuehn owned both the subject property and Kuehn Manufacturing Co. and was listed on the application for a use variance. Despite petitioners’ contention that Rosa Kuehn’s interests were adequately represented by Kuehn Manufacturing Co., the possibility that a judgment rendered without the omitted party could have an adverse practical effect on that party was enough to require joinder. Therefore, the court properly concluded that, as the owner of the subject property, Rosa Kuehn could have been inequitably affected by the judgment and was therefore a necessary party.

However, despite finding Rosa Kuehn was a necessary party, the Supreme Court improperly concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over her due to expiration of the applicable statute of limitations. On appeal, the court found that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over her by virtue of her ownership of the subject property, and this jurisdiction was unaffected by her potential statute of limitations defense. Rather than dismiss the petition, the court determined that the proper procedure would have been for the court to order Rosa Kuehn summoned and to allow Rosa Kuehn and the Kuehn respondents to raise any defenses that they might have. Accordingly, this matter was remitted to Supreme Court to order Rosa Kuehn to be joined as a necessary party.

Nemeth v K-Tooling, 2018 WL 3275270 (NYAD 3 Dept. 7/5/2018)

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