Court of Appeals Venue Decision Calls into Question the Controlling Evidence of a Corporation’s Principal Place of Business

In Lividini v. Goldstein, 37 NY3d 1047 [2021], the Court of Appeals held that defendant doctor had submitted evidence sufficient to establish that his “principal office” under CPLR 403(d) was in Westchester County, even though the doctor’s medical license registration listed a Bronx address. Id. at 1048-50.

For purposes of establishing venue, CPLR 503(d) states that an individually-owned business “shall be deemed a resident of any county in which it has its principal office, as well as the county in which the partner or individual owner suing or being sued actually resides.” While defendant admitted that he conducted some business in the Bronx, his “detailed affidavit” averred that he lived and conducted most of his business in Westchester County. Id. at 1048-49.

Plaintiff contended that defendant’s affidavit evidence was contradicted by his New York State medical license registration, which listed an address in the Bronx as his business address. But the Court of Appeals rejected this argument, emphasizing that the relevant professional licensing statutes do not require doctors to list their “principal office.” Id. at 1050.

The court’s reasoning in Lividini could have far-reaching consequences. While venue in the case was governed by a CPLR provision specific to “individually-owned businesses,” that provision contains the same “principal office” language as the CPLR provision that governs venue as to domestic and registered foreign corporations. Compare CPLR 503(d) with CPLR 503(c). It has long been established that the address provided on a corporation’s certificate of incorporation filed with the secretary of state provides controlling evidence of the corporation’s “principal office” under CPLR 503(c). This was so even though the applications for those certificates of incorporation did not require registrants to provide their “principal office.” Lividini’s reasoning seems to undermine that precedent and render the address stated on corporate registration documents just one of several factors to be considered in establishing proper venue as to corporations within the state.

If you have questions about the proper venue for an action, contact Michael Rakower or Travis Mock.

Lividini Decision

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