In the Matter of NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF VICTIM SERVICES, on Behalf of ALAN GOLD, Petitioner,
KENNETH ROBINSON, Respondent. ALAN GOLD, Appellant. MICHAEL MANGAN, Respondent.
Calendar Date: April 27, 2017
Kujawski & Kujawski, Deer Park (Mark C. Kujawski of
counsel), for appellant.
Ginsberg, LLP, New York City (Jonathan Ginsberg of counsel),
for Michael Mangan, respondent.
Before: Peters, P.J., Garry, Devine, Mulvey and Aarons, JJ.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
from an order of the Supreme Court (O'Connor, J.),
entered May 9, 2016 in Albany County, which, in a proceeding
pursuant to Executive Law § 632-a, denied Alan
Gold's motion to find Michael Mangan in contempt.
Kenneth Robinson, was an inmate at Rikers Island in 2005 and,
while there, assaulted correction officer Alan Gold. Robinson
was subjected to a retaliatory beating by correction
officers, causing him to commence and eventually settle a
federal civil rights action for a sum of money that was
deposited in the escrow account of attorney Michael Mangan.
Petitioner commenced the present proceeding on behalf of Gold
who, after learning of the federal settlement, aimed to
commence an action against Robinson to recover for his
injuries. Supreme Court granted a preliminary injunction in
2010 that barred Mangan and others from disposing of the
settlement monies until further order of the court.
sued Robinson in Suffolk County and, despite Robinson's
pro se efforts (see Matter of Robinson v Spinner,
101 A.D.3d 1130, 1130 , appeal dismissed 21
N.Y.3d 886 ), obtained a judgment against him in 2013.
In 2014, upon Gold's motion in this proceeding, Supreme
Court vacated the preliminary injunction and directed Mangan
to pay over certain monies to Gold. Mangan responded by
moving to vacate the Suffolk County judgment and, in this
proceeding, for relief including a stay of enforcement of the
2014 order until that motion was resolved.
Court granted the requested stay in April 2015, apparently
unaware that Mangan's motion to vacate the Suffolk County
judgment had been denied two months earlier. Mangan continued
to fail to keep Supreme Court apprised of developments in the
Suffolk County action, in contravention of an express
direction to do so in the April 2015 order. Supreme Court
learned of the true state of affairs in August 2015 and,
while it temporarily left the stay in place, it lifted the
stay in December 2015 after Mangan declined to seek an
extension. Mangan disbursed the demanded monies to counsel
for Gold soon after.
moved to hold Mangan in contempt a week before Supreme Court
formally lifted the stay, pointing to Mangan's omissions
with regard to the Suffolk County action and his generally
obstructive conduct. Supreme Court, while acknowledging
Mangan's behavior to be a wellspring of
"frustrations and delays, " found that it did not
warrant holding him in contempt. Gold appeals and we affirm.
make a finding of civil contempt, it must be shown that, to a
reasonable degree of certainty, a party has knowingly
disobeyed a clear and unequivocal mandate of the court which
results in prejudice to the rights of another party"
(Tel Oil Co. v City of Schenectady, 292 A.D.2d 725,
725  [citations omitted]; see Judiciary Law
§ 753 [A] , ; El-Dehdan v El-Dehdan, 26
N.Y.3d 19, 29 ; Hush v Taylor, 121 A.D.3d
1363, 1364 ). Gold asserts that Mangan violated the
Rules of Professional Conduct in numerous respects, most of
which did not involve the disregard of a clear and
unequivocal court mandate and, under the circumstances
presented, could be pursued through a complaint to the
Attorney Grievance Committee rather than in a motion for
contempt (see Tel Oil Co. v City of Schenectady, 292
A.D.2d at 726; Matter of Photosound, Inc. v
Gourdine, 118 A.D.2d 472, 472 ; see also
Rules of Professional Conduct [22 NYCRR 1200.0] rule 8.3
to behavior violative of a court mandate, Mangan admittedly
failed to keep Supreme Court apprised of his efforts to
vacate the Suffolk County judgment despite having been
directed to do so. Supreme Court nevertheless continued to
stay enforcement of its 2014 order once it learned of the
true state of play - which included Mangan attempting to
appeal from the order denying vacatur of the Suffolk County
judgment - and Mangan promptly paid the demanded funds to
Gold once the stay was lifted. Thus, Supreme Court believed
the stay to be warranted even after learning of Mangan's
less than candid conduct and, in the absence of any prejudice
to Gold flowing from that conduct, Supreme Court properly
declined to hold Mangan in contempt (see Matter of
DeMeo v City of Albany, 73 A.D.3d 1316, 1317 , lv
dismissed 15 N.Y.3d 819');">15 N.Y.3d 819 ; Matter of Augat v
Hart, 244 A.D.2d 800, 802 ).
arguments, to the extent they are not addressed above, have
been examined and afford no basis ...