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Kamat v. Kurtha

January 15, 2009

SUNIL KAMAT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AZIZ KURTHA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wood, U.S.D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

On December 16, 2005, Plaintiff, Sunil Kamat, a collector of Indian art, filed a Complaint for declaratory relief against Defendant, Aziz Kurtha, a fellow art collector. Plaintiff seeks (1) a declaration that he is the rightful owner of a painting by Francis Newton Souza ("Souza") entitled "Winter Trees in Central Park" ("Painting") (Count I), (2) damages for slander of title (Count II), (3) damages for tortious interference with contractual and business relations (Count III), and (4) damages for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage (Count IV). Defendant filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration that he is the rightful owner of the Painting.

On August 29, 2007, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. By Report and Recommendation, dated April 14, 2008 (the "Report"), Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz recommends that the motion be denied in its entirety. For the following reasons, the Court adopts the Report's recommendation and DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

I. Background

On April 14, 2008, Magistrate Judge Katz issued his Report, familiarity with which is assumed. The Report recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment because material facts remain in dispute regarding (1) whether Plaintiff is entitled to a declaration of title (Count I) and (2) whether Defendant committed slander of title (Count II). Plaintiff failed to provide any argumentation in support of the Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts III and IV. Therefore, the Report recommends the denial of the Motion for Summary Judgment on these counts. See Lyn v. Inc. Vill. of Hempstead, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46957, 52 n. 13 (E.D.N.Y. 2007) (explaining that issues mentioned in a perfunctory manner without any developed argumentation need not be considered).

Because the Report relates to a dispositive matter, the Court reviews findings to which there is no objection for clear error and findings to which there are timely objections de novo. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); Darby Trading Inc. v. Shell Int'l Trading & Shipping Co., 568 F. Supp. 2d 329, 335 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).

II. Findings to Which There Is No Objection

The parties do not object to the Report's recommendation that the Court, sitting in diversity jurisdiction, should apply New York State law. Therefore, the Court reviews this recommendation for clear error. The Court has reviewed the Report's analysis as to the choice of law question and finds it to be well-reasoned and free of any clear error on the face of the record. Accordingly, the Court adopts the Report's recommendation and applies New York State law to the claims at issue here. (Report, at 6-8.)

Likewise, the parties do not object to the Report's recommendation that the requests for summary judgment on Count III (damages for tortious interference with contractual and business relations) and Count IV (damages for tortious interference with prospective business advantage) be denied because the Plaintiff fails to provide argumentation in support of these requests. (Report, at 2 n.1.) The Court finds that the Report did not clearly err in recommending the denial of summary judgment on Counts III and IV, and DENIES summary judgment on these counts.

III. Findings to Which There Are Objections

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is warranted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Guilbert v. Gardner, 480 F.3d 140, 145 (2d Cir. 2007); Citizens Bank v. Hunt, 927 F.2d 707, 710 (2d Cir. 1991). A genuine issue of material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence to allow a "reasonable jury" to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

The burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact rests with the moving party. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); Grady v. Affiliated Cent., Inc., 130 F.3d 553, 559 (2d Cir. 1997). A court must view the evidence presented "in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor." Am. ...


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