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Kuney v. Christian

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

January 27, 2014

Michael Kuney, Appellant,
v.
Angie Christian and NORMAN CHRISTIAN, Respondents.

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

Appeal from a judgment of the City Court of Peekskill, Westchester County (William L. Maher, J.), entered October 18, 2011. The judgment, after a no Snjury trial, dismissed the action.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiff commenced this small claims action to recover the sum of $5, 000, alleging that defendants had damaged trees on his property. After a nonjury trial, the City Court dismissed the action. 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 A.D.2d 584 [2000]; Williams v Roper, 269 A.D.2d 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 A.D.2d 544 [1990]). 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 A.D.2d 564 [1992]; Kincade v Kincade, 178 A.D.2d 510, 511 [1991]). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see Williams v Roper, 269 A.D.2d at 126).

Upon a review of the record, we find, based on the credible evidence, that only the portions of the branches of plaintiff's trees which had been overhanging defendants' property had been pruned, and that defendants properly resorted to self-help (Hileman-Rizzo v Krysty, 10 Misc.3d 135 [A], 2005 NY Slip Op 52118[U] [App Term, 9th & 10th Jud Dists 2005]; Fliegman v Rubin, 1 Misc.3d 127 [A], 2003 NY Slip Op 51542[U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2003]; 1 NY Jur 2d, Adjoining Landowners § 65).

Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

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


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