Tag Archives: court of appeals

Court of Appeals medical monitoring decision

This week, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, delivered a victory for business in Caronia v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.  The Business Council of New York State, Inc. had joined with other business groups in filing an amicus brief urging the court to reject “medical monitoring” class actions under state law.

In one of the most important product-liability cases this year, in a 4-2 decision, the court rejected the attempt to make businesses pay for the costs of medical check-ups before the plaintiffs prove they have been injured.  If allowed, many companies, across a broad section of industries, would have faced lawsuits based on injuries that could have developed someday, probably leading the company to economic distress through frivolous lawsuits.

The Court of Appeals’ decision adopted the arguments presented in the amicus brief, saying New York law requires proof of harm.  The court said it would not deviate from well-established law to allow the pursuit of claims that showed no harm.

Online booking services must charge NYC hotel tax

The state’s top court says New York City can impose its nearly 6 percent hotel occupancy tax on booking services.

The Court of Appeals says state lawmakers in 1970 gave the city broad authority to enact the tax, rejecting arguments by Expedia, Priceline and other third-party travel marketers that their service fees don’t constitute room rent.

In a 5-2 ruling Thursday that reverses a midlevel court, the higher court’s majority says the city measure taxes payments for occupancy, which includes those fees.

Dissenters say the fees paid to the travel companies for helping find a room and facilitating the booking aren’t the same as room rent, and the city lacks additional authority to tax them.

Fracking ban in finger lakes town goes to Court of Appeals

In August 2011, the town board of Dryden, New York, voted unanimously to pass a zoning ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing, the gas extraction method also known as fracking. Norse Energy Corporation immediately sued to overturn the ban, and that suit has reached New York’s highest court: the Court of Appeals. Its decision could settle the issue of whether individual municipalities can ban fracking.

Such piecemeal bans are increasingly common, some symbolic (in places without natural gas reserves) and some with real impact. Meanwhile, the state of New York continues to study the issue, acknowledging the economic benefits of fracking, but is investigating possible harm to public health and the environment. It’s been over a year since the study began.

This delay, and local bans such as Dryden’s, have essentially put the brakes on drilling in New York. In fact the parent company of Norse Energy Corp USA, the plaintiff in the Dryden lawsuit, announced this month that it would liquidate the company. Supporters say other natural gas companies are abandoning plans in New York State.

The Court of Appeals agreed in August to take up the Dryden case and another one involving a fracking ban in Middlefield, in Otsego County. A ruling is expected next year.

State’s highest court will hear gas drilling cases

The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court will hear two cases that could determine whether local communities can ban gas drilling.  The courts will most likely not hear the cases before May 2014 and a ruling is not expected until July 2014.

The cases brought against the towns of Dryden, Tompkins County, and Middlefield, Otsego County had unanimous rulings by lower courts upholding their right to ban gas drilling.

At the time of the Dryden appellate decision, The Business Council of New York State issued the following statement:

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc., said, “The Business Council’s position is unchanged. We have been a steadfast supporter of shale development. The economic opportunities and potential jobs created by natural gas development would bring a lasting positive impact to the region and the state, and we believe that scientific and technical reviews will prove the case for moving forward with permits in New York State.  Regardless of the final court outcome on this case, we oppose statutory prohibitions on the state or local level, as contrary to sound economic, energy and environmental policy.”

The Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. report Drilling for Jobs: What the Marcellus Shale could mean for New York found that creating as few as 300 natural gas wells per year in the Marcellus Shale has the potential to generate more than 37,500 jobs annually in New York. Natural gas exploration provides high paying jobs. The average wage in Oil and Gas Extraction and Support Activities for mining is $79,184 in New York State, over double the private sector wage in upstate New York of $39,157.

Additionally, Republican state Sen. Greg Ball, who initially backed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing wrote an op/ed supporting a gradual phase in that is regulated by the state.

Ball wrote, “Let’s be frank, our friends upstate and in the Southern Tier are starving for job creation… a recent report by the state Comptroller’s office showed that the five counties that border the State of Pennsylvania and would benefit most…”

The Business Review: verdict on Empire Zone incentives not far away

Business Review logoAdam Sichko of The Business Review posted a report about a pending Court of Appeals decision on whether the state must repay millions of tax credits revoked from New York businesses four years ago.

Click here to read Sickho’s report on “the climax of [the] four-year fight.”

UPDATE: The state Appellate Division released its decision earlier today.