November 16, 2011

Public officer refused reimbursement for legal costs


Public officer refused reimbursement for legal costs
Corning v. Laurel Hollow, 48 NY2d 348

Although initially represented by the County Attorney’s Office, public officials being sued in their personal rather than an official capacity for an act performed in connection with official duties dismissed the attorney provided by the County and engaged a private attorney to represent them. When they later sought reimbursement for their legal fees and expenses (they won the case) payment was denied on the basis that it would constitute an unlawful gift of public monies.

The decision also suggests that as the dispute was “private” the providing of a public staff attorney might not be in order.

In a dissenting opinion, the view that the legal expenses but not the attorney fees were reimbursable was expressed but this distinction was rejected by the majority. The majority view was that in the absence of a statute authorizing the Village to provide for a defense, the State Constitution prohibited it from reimbursing the officials for any expense incurred in defending themselves when sued in a personal capacity.

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to seek such advice from a competent professional.