risk of time bar. Those which did enter the market for municipal contracts would be required to charge higher prices to reflect the risk of being unable to secure payment.
If confusion existed as a result of any positions taken or warnings omitted by the Village concerning the Texas company's entitlement to payment for its work under its contract with the Village, delay on the part of the contractor may be excused. It is a basic principle that one cannot take advantage of problems one has been responsible for creating; hence, "equitable estoppel has been applied to prevent a defendant from relying on a limitations bar if that defendant has contributed to the confusion." Schrader v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, 952 F.2d 1008, 1013 (8th Cir. 1991); see Gallagher v. Donald, 803 F. Supp. 899 (S.D.N.Y. 1992), reaff'd 805 F. Supp. 221 (S.D.N.Y. 1992).
The intricate series of obliquely colliding communications between the parties does not permit, on the papers before me, a definitive finding as to when plaintiff's cause of action accrued.
The Village contends that the Texas company cannot recover for its work because of failure to file a notice of claim with the Village Clerk within one year after the claim accrued under N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. § 9802. Such requirements are pragmatic, aimed at assuring that public sector entities with their deep pockets are not surprised by strike litigation which they can no longer investigate or settle effectively. See Goldman v. New York City Health & Hospitals Corp., 186 A.D.2d 629, 588 N.Y.S.2d 412 (2d Dept. 1992), arising under the similar provisions of Gen. Municipal Law § 50-e.
It has long been a traditional and indeed basic principle of New York law that, absent a contrary indication in their text, documents should be given an interpretation in accordance with their objectives rather than in a wooden manner. Tedla v. Ellman, 280 N.Y. 124, 19 N.E.2d 987 (1939); see also Zendman v. Harry Winston, Inc., 305 N.Y. 180, 189 n 3, 111 N.E.2d 871 (1953).
Consequently, notice of claim requirements may be satisfied if equivalent information is timely furnished. The Texas company has shown sufficient indications that this was done to survive the Village's motion for summary judgment on this issue. Quintero v. Long Island RR, 31 A.D.2d 844, 298 N.Y.S.2d 109 (2d Dept. 1969); Frink v. Town of Amenia, 91 Misc. 2d 491, 398 N.Y.S.2d 331 (Cy. Ct. Dutchess Co. 1977).
The Village argues that the Texas company is illegally doing business in New York without having registered under N.Y. Bus. Corp. Law § 1312. It supports this contention by referring to the Reply Affidavit submitted on behalf of the Village, claiming that the Texas company had numerous unspecified meetings with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This is an insufficient basis to dismiss the complaint.
Netherlands Shipmortgage Mortgage Corp. v. Madias, 717 F.2d 731 (2d Cir. 1983), indicates that door-closing statutes should be applied cautiously. The Second Circuit in Netherlands noted that New York, cognizant of the importance to the state of interstate commerce, has required considerable localized activity to trigger such provisions.
A striking aspect of this litigation as presented by the motions of the parties is the paucity of material relating to the underlying merits of the dispute even by way of background. The parties are directed to renew settlement efforts and to be prepared to report success or the obstacles encountered at a pretrial conference to be held on Thursday July 15, 1993 at 10 AM.
Dated: White Plains, New York
June 15, 1993
VINCENT L. BRODERICK, U.S.D.J.