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New York Statute of Limitations – Wrongful Death

In this post, I’m going to go over what the statute of limitations is for a wrongful death lawsuit under New York law. As a refresher, a “statute of limitations” is the time period within a lawsuit has to be commenced. If you miss this time period — even by a day — and file your lawsuit late, you could have the most perfect lawsuit (e.g. the best evidence, multiple independent witnesses, an admission by the defendant, etc) and you could still lose just because you filed your suit too late. There are certain situations in which a statute of limitations is paused (aka “tolled” in lawyer-speak if you want to google it), but those are the exception rather than the rule. Tolling is also beyond the scope of this particular post, although I may address it in a future post. The relevant NY statute on the topic of the statute of limitations in a wrongful death civil lawsuit is New York Estates Powers & Trusts Law section 5-4.1(1)), which states: “The personal representative, duly appointed in this state or any other jurisdiction, of a decedent who is survived by distributees may maintain an action to recover damages for a wrongful act, neglect or default which caused the decedent’s death against a person who would have been liable to the decedent by reason of such wrongful conduct if death had not ensued. Such an action must be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death; provided, however, that an action on behalf of a decedent whose death was caused by the terrorist attacks on September eleventh, two thousand one,...

California Gang Database (CalGang) Removal (CA Penal Code sections 186.34 and 186.35)

Over the last several months, the Los Angeles Police Department has been involved in a scandal where several of its officers have been accused of adding people to California’s CalGang database without sufficient cause. The Los Angeles Times has reported on this extensively. Some officers have been criminally charged with falsifying the evidence and documentation needed to justify adding someone to CalGang. Allegedly, these officers were fabricating this evidence in order to meet quotas instituted by LAPD’s data-driven culture about how many people they needed to add to CalGang. Failure to meet those numbers would presumably have been used as evidence individual patrol officers were not doing their jobs, not being productive, etc. The LAPD has now been sued civilly for this scandal by people who allege that they suffered injuries (e.g. job loss) as a result of being improperly included in CalGang. In this post, I’m going to go over two sections of California’s Penal Code — sections 186.34 and 186.35 — pertaining to how individuals who have been added to CalGang can challenge their inclusion. These two statutes, obviously, are not specific to the city or county of Los Angeles. If you have a problem with CalGang elsewhere in California, these statutes might be helpful for you as well so read on. What is CalGang? Let’s start from the basics. CalGang is a statewide database maintained by the California Department of Justice. Like any database, it is meant to provide a single source for accurate information about a particular subject that multiple parties can draw upon. According to the CalGang website, CalGang’s purpose is to “provide law...

New York Commercial Bribery (NY Penal Law sections 180.00 and 180.03)

Background of this post: I’m a podcast junkie. I listen to them all the time (e.g. iPod, car, in the office, etc). Lately, a lot of them are from Wondery. One of their podcasts is called American Scandal and goes over scandals of various kinds (e.g. Iran Contra, Boston College athletics gambling, etc) that have occurred through the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the scandals they went over was Payola. In essence, it was the practice in the early to mid-20th centuries where radio DJs were paid money to promote or play one record company’s songs over another with the goal of making certain songs more or less popular than others. These payments were, of course, not disclosed to the public who generally thought that the songs being played were just part of the day’s normal broadcast. Part of the American Scandal podcast went over how New York played a role in ending payola because of its statutes criminalizing commercial bribery. Those statutes are the topic of this post. More accurately, I’m going to go over what the current commercial bribery statutes in New York are. Statutes change all the time. The current statutes may or may not have been what was in effect back when Payola was occurring. Under current New York law, there is both second-degree and first-degree commercial bribery under sections 180.00 and 180.03, respectively, of New York’s Penal Law. What’s the difference between the two degrees? Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is the magnitude of the benefit and damage involved. Under section 180.00, second-degree commercial bribery is defined as:   “A person...

Can You Record the Police in New York?

I released a post a few months ago that went over the question of whether, under California law, a bystander can make a recording of the police. For example, when the police are making an arrest, a detention, etc. I’m sure all of us have seen videos like this that have been shot on a smartphone. In today’s post, I’m going to address that same question, except for New York. In other words, is it permissible under New York law to make a video or audio recording of the police while they are, for example, making an arrest, detaining someone, etc. As I described in my prior post, the governing law for California was signed into law in 2015 by then-Governor Jerry Brown and took effect January 1, 2016. The governing law in New York is a bit newer. It was signed into law in in June 2020 by Governor Andrew Cuomo and adds a new section (section 79-p) to New York’s Civil Rights Law. Section 79-p itself has a subsection 2 which states the following: “2. Right to record law enforcement related activities. A person not under arrest or in the custody of a law enforcement official has the right to record law enforcement activity and to maintain custody and control of that recording and of any property or instruments used by that person to record law enforcement activities, provided, however, that a person in custody or under arrest does not, by that status alone, forfeit the right to have any such recordings, property and equipment maintained and returned to him or her. Nothing in this subdivision shall...

California Mechanics Liens and Contractor Licenses

In a prior post, I went over the Preliminary Notice (aka “20-Day Notice”) as the first step in pursuing a Mechanics Lien in California. In another post, I went over the importance of having a construction contractor’s license in California. If you don’t have such a license, you’re forbidden from suing if a client doesn’t pay you. You’re also vulnerable to being sued for disgorgement of all compensation you earned while unlicensed. In this post, I’m going to address a question posed by a hybrid of these two posts: can you pursue a mechanics lien if you’re a construction contractor working without the required license? The short answer here is no. If you work in the construction trades and you don’t have the license that California requires you to have, you cannot pursue a mechanics lien against a client/customer who doesn’t pay you. The reason is the same statute I went over in my prior post, section 7031 of California’s Business and Professions Code. Section 7031(a) says: “Except as provided in subdivision (e), no person engaged in the business or acting in the capacity of a contractor, may bring or maintain any action, or recover in law or equity in any action, in any court of this state for the collection of compensation for the performance of any act or contract where a license is required by this chapter without alleging that he or she was a duly licensed contractor at all times during the performance of that act or contract regardless of the merits of the cause of action brought by the person, except that this prohibition shall...