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Martie Hambas v. Collier

New York SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE TERM, SECOND DEPARTMENT, 9th and 10th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS


March 1, 2013

MARTIE HAMBAS, APPELLANT, --
v.
COLLIER, HALPERN, NEWBERG, NOLLETTI & BOCK, LLP, RESPONDENT.

Hambas v Collier, Halpern, Newberg, Nolletti & Bock, LLP

Decided on March 1, 2013

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This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.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

Appeal, on the ground of inadequacy, from a judgment of the City Court of White Plains, Westchester County (Eric Press, J.), entered May 2, 2011. The judgment, after a non-jury trial, awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $525.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiff commenced this small claims action to recover a portion of the attorney's fees she had paid to defendant law firm for representing her in a matrimonial action, until she had discharged the law firm after approximately three months. Plaintiff had paid defendant its retainer fee of $7,500, and defendant had billed her for $8,417.45, but ultimately gave her a "courtesy discount" of $917.45. Plaintiff, claiming that defendant had overcharged her and had billed her improper amounts, seeks to recover $5,000. After a non-jury trial, the City Court awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $525. Plaintiff appeals on the ground of inadequacy. Upon a review of the record, we find that the judgment provided the parties with substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (UCCA 1804, 1807; see Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 [2000]; Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 [2000]).

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 at 126). Furthermore, the determination of a trier of fact as to issues of credibility is given substantial deference, as a 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]). Upon a review of the record, we find that plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that "substantial justice" requires an increase in the amount awarded (see UCCA 1804, 1807).

Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

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

Decision Date: March 01, 2013

20130301

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