BLAU v. Barry Blau, et al., Defendants.

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

Georgia Panagopoulos BLAU, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Shawn BLAU, Defendant-Appellant, Barry Blau, et al., Defendants.

Decided: October 27, 2005

ANDRIAS, J.P., FRIEDMAN, NARDELLI, MALONE, JJ. Mayerson Stutman, LLP, New York (Barbara Ellen Handschu of counsel), for appellant. Sharon Stein, New York, for respondent.

Revised amended order, Supreme Court, New York County (John E.H. Stackhouse, J.), entered February 24, 2005, directing defendant to pay plaintiff's pendente lite attorneys' fees of $103,666.00 and $7,722.54 in costs and disbursements, and determining that plaintiff's counsel was entitled to a charging lien of $16,054.00 for attorneys' fees and $2,024.00 for costs and disbursements, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

 Despite the husband's insistence that prior courts' orders concluding that plaintiff was not entitled to interim attorneys' fees constitute the law of the case, they were not binding on this Court when it rendered its decision in Blau v. Blau, 309 A.D.2d 672, 766 N.Y.S.2d 347 [2003], since it is not a co-ordinate, but a higher tribunal (Martin v. City of Cohoes, 37 N.Y.2d 162, 165, 371 N.Y.S.2d 687, 332 N.E.2d 867 [1975];  Rager v. McCloskey, 305 N.Y. 75, 78, 111 N.E.2d 214 [1953] ).   Our prior decision did indicate that plaintiff would be entitled to interim attorneys' fees upon submission of evidence pertinent to the reasonable value of the services that were rendered and a decision showing how the motion court arrived at its award (id. at 672, 766 N.Y.S.2d 347;  Domestic Relations Law § 237[a] ).   We are now satisfied with counsel's submissions and the court's reasoning.

 Insofar as defendant maintains that the court erred in altering its Amended Order following an ex parte communication with plaintiff's counsel, as reflected by the record, clearly defendant's attorney received plaintiff's counsel's letter, undermining his claim that it was ex parte.   In any event, the changes plaintiff's counsel urged hardly required the formal motion practice defendant's attorney suggests since they were not substantive (see Matter of Guarino v. Allstate Ins. Co., 7 Misc.3d 1016(A), 2005 WL 991067, 2005 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 830, *17 [Sup. Ct., Kings County 2005] ).