Reliance Ins. Co. v. PolyVision Corp – Case Brief Summary (New York)

Reliance Ins. Co. v. PolyVision Corp. (9 NY3d 52, 876 NE2d 898, 845 NYS2d 212 [2007]) provides the most comprehensive guidance by the Court of Appeals as to the circumstances in which a plaintiff may avail itself of CPLR 205 (a) to avoid the bar of the statute of limitations, where a different but related plaintiff filed the original action within the statute of limitations, and the action was dismissed due to a defect in the original plaintiff's capacity or standing.

In Reliance, the Court of Appeals answered the following certified question from the Second Circuit: "Does New York CPLR § 205(a) allow a corporation to refile an action within six months when a previous, timely-filed action has mistakenly been commenced in the name of a different, related corporate entity, and has been dismissed for naming the wrong plaintiff?" (Id. at 56.)

In holding that CPLR 205 (a) was unavailable to the parent corporation of the original plaintiff, the Court of Appeals endorsed the reasoning of the Federal District Court that

" 'the common thread running through cases applying CPLR 205 in cases where the error in the dismissed action lies only in the "identity" of the plaintiff, is the fact that it is the same person or entity whose rights are sought to be vindicated in both actions.' . . . 'The plaintiff in the new lawsuit may appear in a different capacity, such as a duly appointed administrator, but the identity of the individual on whose behalf redress is sought, must remain the same.' " (Id. at 57.)