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David J. Ramunno v. Angela Taylor-Hughes

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE TERM: 9th and 10th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS


April 26, 2011

DAVID J. RAMUNNO,
APPELLANT,
v.
ANGELA TAYLOR-HUGHES,
RESPONDENT.

Appeal, on the ground of inadequacy, from a judgment of the Justice Court of the Town of Riverhead, Suffolk County (Richard A. Ehlers, J.), entered November 24, 2009.

Ramunno v Taylor-Hughes

Decided on April 26, 2011

Appellate Term, Second Department

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

PRESENT: TANENBAUM, J.P., MOLIA and LaCAVA, JJ.

The judgment, after a non-jury trial, awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $220.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiff commenced this small claims action to recover $640 in rent money which plaintiff had paid to defendant's landlord on defendant's behalf. At the non-jury trial, plaintiff testified that he had issued two checks to defendant's landlord, one dated December 16, 2008 and the second dated February 27, 2009, both in the amount of $320. In connection with the first check, defendant had signed a promissory note for the same amount and dated the same day. Plaintiff asserted that the second check had also been a loan, although he had not required defendant to execute an accompanying promissory note. Defendant testified that she had never promised plaintiff that she would repay him for the second $320 check. She further stated that she had repaid plaintiff $100 toward the promissory note. The Justice Court found that plaintiff had failed to establish that defendant had agreed to repay him the second $320 payment and that defendant only owed plaintiff the remaining balance of $220 on the promissory note.

The decision of a fact-finding court should not be disturbed upon appeal unless it is obvious that the court's conclusions could not be reached under any fair interpretation of the evidence (see Claridge Gardens v Menotti, 160 AD2d 544 [1990]). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 [2000]). The determination of the trier of fact as to issues of credibility is given substantial deference, as the trial court's opportunity to observe and evaluate the testimony and demeanor of the witnesses affords it a better perspective from which to assess their credibility (see Vizzari v State of New York, 184 AD2d 564 [1992]; Kincade v Kincade, 178 AD2d 510, 511 [1991]).

Since the court's findings and conclusions are supported by the record, we find that the judgment provided the parties with substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (UJCA 1804, 1807; Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 [2000]; Williams, 269 AD2d at 126), and the judgment is affirmed.

Tanenbaum, J.P., Molia and LaCava, JJ., concur.

Decision Date: April 26, 2011

20110426

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