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Stanley Cohen Furniture Services, Inc v. Two Guys Discount Appliances

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


August 11, 2011

STANLEY COHEN FURNITURE SERVICES, INC.,
APPELLANT,
v.
TWO GUYS DISCOUNT APPLIANCES, INC.,
RESPONDENT.

Appeal from a judgment of the District Court of Suffolk County, Fifth District (James P. Flanagan, J.), entered October 16, 2009.

Stanley Cohen Furniture Servs., Inc. v Two Guys Discount Appliances, Inc.

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This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on August 11, 2011

PRESENT: IANNACCI, J.P., NICOLAI and MOLIA, JJ

The judgment, after a non-jury trial, dismissed the action.

ORDERED that the judgment is reversed, without costs, and judgment is directed to be entered in favor of plaintiff in the principal sum of $1,205.

Plaintiff commenced this commercial claims action to recover for unpaid furniture repair services rendered to the defendant store. The chairs were manufactured by an out-of-state furniture manufacturer, Catnapper, a nonparty to this action. At a non-jury trial, defendant argued that it was the disclosed agent for Catnapper and, therefore, was not liable for Catnapper's failure to pay plaintiff's bills. Defendant did not dispute the amount sought in the action. After the non-jury trial, the District Court dismissed the action on the ground that a disclosed agency relationship between defendant and Catnapper was known to plaintiff.

Upon a review of the record, we find that the judgment did not render substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (UDCA 1804-A, 1807-A). "An agent will be liable as a principal if the fact of the agency relationship is not known by the party with whom the agent deals" (Rothschild Sunsystems, Inc. v Pawlus, 129 AD2d 933, 935 [1987]). Where an agency relationship is disclosed, "[t]o be effective, such disclosure must occur at the time the contract is made. Disclosures occurring after the contract is made will not relieve the agent from liability" (Ardwin v Englert, 81 AD2d 960, 961 [1981], affd 56 NY2d 936 [1982]). In the present case, while defendant's president testified that Catnapper had requested the repair work and was, therefore, responsible for paying plaintiff, there is no indication that an agency relationship had been disclosed when the parties had entered into a contractual agreement. The invoices at issue indicate that plaintiff billed defendant for work done from October 30, 2003 through February 3, 2006. Notably, the decision of the District Court relied upon correspondence from December of 2006 to support its determination that an agency relationship between Catnapper and defendant had been disclosed. However, disclosure, if any, was made only after the time of the agreement between defendant and plaintiff and, consequently, was ineffective.

Accordingly, the judgment is reversed and judgment is directed to be entered in favor of plaintiff in the principal sum of $1,205.

Iannacci, J.P., Nicolai and Molia, JJ., concur.

Decision Date: August 11, 2011

20110811

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