Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim Dismissed as Untimely, Notwithstanding CPLR 205(a)

In Raji v. SG Americas Securities, LLC, No. 154174/2019, 2020 WL 94806 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Jan. 08, 2020), the court dismissed plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claims asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

Initially, plaintiff sued in federal court. The case was dismissed on October 25, 2018. Plaintiff commenced suit in state court (this action) on April 23, 2019. Defendants moved to dismissed, asserting that plaintiff’s claims here were untimely. The court agreed.

Plaintiff attempted to rely on section 205(a) of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, which (as summarized by the court) “allows a plaintiff six months to commence a new action where the previous action was timely commenced and was terminated in any other manner than by a voluntary discontinuance, a failure to obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant, a dismissal of the complaint for neglect to prosecute the action, or a final judgment upon the merits.”

The court found that plaintiff’s claims were untimely here – in that they were filed beyond the state and city laws’ 3 year statutes of limitation, which began to accrue at the end of plaintiff’s internship in May of 2013 – notwithstanding CPLR 205(a), explaining:

Although CPLR 205 (a) provides a mechanism by which claims can be revived, this Court finds that the 10/25/18 order was a voluntary dismissal of the federal claims and, thus, that the statute does not apply. This reasoning finds support in the language of the 10/25/18 order, which premised the dismissal entirely on the fact that the case had been “settled in principle”. The action was not dismissed on any other basis and it is important to note that, although the joint pre-trial order raised subject matter jurisdiction as a possible deficiency in the federal action, this was in no way addressed in the 10/25/18 order. … [T]he action had been dismissed on 10/25/18 based on a tentative settlement, and the federal court noted that there were no outstanding issues to resolve.

This Court rejects Raji’s contention that the captioned action is subject to CPLR 205 (a) since the 10/25/18 order dismissed the claims “without prejudice to the right to reopen the action within thirty days of the date of” that order. While Raji clearly had the option to reopen the federal case within thirty days, he failed to avail himself of this opportunity after the settlement failed to materialize.