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Joel Grant v. J.. Towing and Recycling

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


January 24, 2012

JOEL GRANT,
APPELLANT, --
v.
J.. TOWING AND RECYCLING, INC.,
RESPONDENT.

Appeal from a judgment of the District Court of Suffolk County, Fifth District (James P. Flanagan, J.), entered January 21, 2010.

Grant v J.V. Towing & Recycling, Inc.

Decided on January 24, 2012

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This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.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: NICOLAI, P.J., MOLIA and IANNACCI, JJ

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

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiff commenced this small claims action to recover the sum of $4,000 from defendant towing company. At a non-jury trial, the proof established that defendant had towed plaintiff's car, a 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva, from a private parking lot upon the instructions of the management of the parking lot. When plaintiff did not contact defendant for over three weeks after the car had been towed, defendant disposed of the car. Following trial, the District Court dismissed the action, finding that plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case or to prove damages.

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 (Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 [2000]). Furthermore, the determination of a 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 the credibility of the witnesses (see Vizzari v State of New York, 184 AD2d 564 [1992]; Kincade v Kincade, 178 AD2d 510, 511 [1991]). As plaintiff failed to establish the value of his car through competent proof, we find that the judgment provided the parties with substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (UDCA 1804, 1807; see Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 [2000]; Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d at 126). Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

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

Decision Date: January 24, 2012

20120124

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