Ryan v. New York Telephone Co

467 N.E.2d 487 (1984)


P was discharged from D for theft of company property. Lauriano and Perrino, company security investigators, had observed P removing what appeared to be company property from the workplace. They stopped him and called the police who arrested P and charged him with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. P applied for unemployment insurance benefits, but his application was rejected on misconduct. P filed an appeal and was advised that he was entitled to have an attorney represent. P already retained counsel for the criminal proceedings but chose to appear with a union representative who was familiar with such administrative hearings. The Administrative Law Judge sustained the ruling of the claims examiner and disallowed benefits. During the pendency of the administrative proceedings and judicial review, the criminal action in which Ryan was represented by counsel resulted in an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. It was restored to the Trial Calendar on the motion of D and, on the People's motion, the charges were dismissed 'in the interest of justice.' P commenced this action for false arrest, malicious prosecution, slander, and wrongful discharge. D claimed res judicata and collateral estoppel on the basis of the prior administrative determination. Special Term granted Ps' motion and dismissed the affirmative defense, finding that the 'totality of the situation,' including the prior forum, P's lack of counsel and the availability of 'new evidence,' 'dictates that it would be unfair to deny P his day in court.' A divided Appellate Division affirmed and granted leave to appeal to this court on the issue of the preclusive effect of an administrative hearing.