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Davis-Kelly v. Castellano

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

January 27, 2014

Donna Davis-Kelly and JOHN KELLY, Respondents,
v.
Thomas Castellano, J.P. TILE & CARPET, INC. and WORLD TILE & CARPET, Defendants, ssand JOSEPH PENNISI, Appellant.

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

Appeal from a judgment of the District Court of Suffolk County, Fifth District (Vincent J. Martorana, J.), entered August 7, 2012. The judgment, after a nonjury trial, awarded plaintiffs the principal sum of $5, 000 as against defendant Joseph Pennisi.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiffs commenced this small claims action to recover the sum of $5, 000 for damages incurred as a result of defective bathroom renovations performed by defendants. After a nonjury trial, plaintiffs were awarded the principal sum of $5, 000 as against Joseph Pennisi (defendant). 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 (see UDCA 1804, 1807; 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]). The deference accorded to a trial court's credibility determinations applies with even greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court given the limited standard of review (see UDCA 1804, 1807; Williams v Roper, 269 A.D.2d at 126). Contrary to defendant's arguments on appeal, there is support in the record for the District Court's conclusions that the work in question was defective and that defendant was an appropriate party to be held liable.

Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

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


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