Dismissal of Federal Action in Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case Did Not Render Ensuing State Action Untimelys Not Untimely

In Raji v SG Americas Securities, LLC, No. 12583, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 07475, 2020 WL 7250251 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., Dec. 10, 2020) – an employment discrimination (based on sexual orientation) case – the Appellate Division, First Department held that plaintiff’s claims, in part, were not barred on statute of limitations grounds.

The court’s decision turned on the application of New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 205(a). That statute provides, in pertinent part:

(a) New action by plaintiff. If an action is timely commenced and is 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 plaintiff, or, if the plaintiff dies, and the cause of action survives, his or her executor or administrator, may commence a new action upon the same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences within six months after the termination provided that the new action would have been timely commenced at the time of commencement of the prior action and that service upon defendant is effected within such six-month period. Where a dismissal is one for neglect to prosecute the action made pursuant to rule thirty-two hundred sixteen of this chapter or otherwise, the judge shall set forth on the record the specific conduct constituting the neglect, which conduct shall demonstrate a general pattern of delay in proceeding with the litigation.

From the decision:

Plaintiff’s prior federal action, in which he asserted timely claims under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws, was terminated by court order (see Fed Rules Civ Pro rule 41[a][2] ). The prior action was thus not terminated by a voluntary discontinuance. As such, CPLR 205(a)’s saving provisions apply to render the instant complaint timely (see Extebank v. Finkelstein, 188 A.D.2d 513, 513, 591 N.Y.S.2d 434 [2d Dept. 1992]; Censor v. Mead Reinsurance Corp., 176 A.D.2d 600, 601, 575 N.Y.S.2d 285 [1st Dept. 1991] ).

That said, the court held that CPLR 205(a) could not apply to render plaintiff’s claims against defendant SG Americas Securities, Inc. (SG Inc.) timely, since that entity was not a party to (and was not even mentioned in the complaint in) the federal action.

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