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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

OK, Here's a Really Old Case that is Still Pending

In recent a recent post, Aaron Bruhl discussed a mysterious GVR of a five year old decision; I responded with a post about some cases that hung around even longer.  It turns out that there are cases even older than that: The New York Times recently reported that the Appellate Term ruled that Lance International v. First National City Bank, pending since 1966, should now go to trial.  The defendant contended that because the corporation had been dissolved, it could no longer pursue the suit; the Appellate Term ruled that the argument had come 22 years too late, and in any event was wrong on the merits because of NY Business Corporation Law Section 1006(b): "The dissolution of a corporation shall not affect any remedy available to or against such corporation, its directors, officers or shareholders for any right or claim existing or any liability incurred before such dissolution." Appellate Term opinion here, reversing the trial court decision.  The trial court applied an equitable limit to the wind-up period of 1006(b); the wind-up, the court concluded, including resolution of this case, should have been completed much more quickly.  But the opinion cited no cases or other authority imposing an absolute time limit, or granting the court the power to determine how long is too long, and the trial court did not explain how courts should determine how long is too long.  The Appellate Term seems to have concluded that the trial court invented a restriction that the legislature had not provided for.  Surely this is right; if there is to be a time limit to the apparently unlimited authority granted by 1006(b), for purposes of fairness and consistency, it should come from the legislature.

The plaintiff, Lance International, has been defunct for years; the defendant, First National City Bank, has been Citibank since 1962. A commenter on the Times site noted that: "A young associate in 1966 who might have done the 'scut work' on this case initially would likely be a retired partner (or even dead) by now."

Posted by Marc Miller on March 2, 2010 at 04:43 PM | Permalink

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