What Is the Approach to Be Taken by Trial Courts Presented With Motions to Amend Appeals ?

In Daniels v. Empire-Orr, Inc. (151 A.D.2d 370, 371, 542 N.Y.S.2d 614 [1st Dept. 1989]), the Appellate Division, First Department, explained the approach to be taken by trial courts presented with motions to amend pleadings as follows: First, the proponent must allege legally sufficient facts to establish a prima facie cause of action or defense in the proposed amended pleading. If the facts alleged are incongruent with the legal theory relied on by the proponent the proposed amendment must fail as a matter of law. The next step is for the nisi prius court to test the pleading's merit. The merit of a proposed amended pleading must be sustained, however, unless the alleged insufficiency or lack of merit is clear and free from doubt. The party opposing the motion to amend, therefore, must overcome a presumption of validity in favor of the moving party, and demonstrate that the facts alleged and relied upon in the moving papers are obviously not reliable or are insufficient. This does not mean, however, that those facts need to be proven at this stage. ( id., 151 A.D.2d, at 371). In Morgan v. Prospect Park Associates Holdings, L.P. (251 A.D.2d 306, 674 N.Y.S.2d 62 [2d Dept. 1998]), the court stated that: While CPLR 3025 provides that leave to amend a pleading shall be freely granted, leave to amend is not to be granted upon the mere request of a party without a proper basis. Rather, it is incumbent upon the movant to make "some evidentiary showing that the claim can be supported". In determining whether to grant leave, a court must examine the underlying merit of the proposed claims, since to do otherwise would be wasteful of judicial resources. ( Id., 251 A.D.2d, at 306). Despite the difference in the language employed by the courts in Daniels and Morgan, the Court concludes that these cases articulate a single standard. As has been recognized, "prima facie evidence means evidence which, standing alone, maintains the proposition and warrants the conclusion to support which it is introduced" (Cincotta v. Dupuy, 294 Mass. 298, 1 N.E.2d 182 [Mass. 1936]).