This appeal presents a question respecting the limits of an appellate court's scope of review of a judgment rendered against multiple parties but appealed by only one. Generally, an appellate court cannot grant affirmative relief to a nonappealing party unless it is necessary to do so in order to accord full relief to a party who has appealed. Thus, it was error here for the Appellate Division to dismiss the action against a joint tort-feasor found liable at trial, but who took no appeal from the judgment.
Plaintiff commenced this negligence action against the City of New York and the Square Depew Garage Corporation for injuries sustained when she fell on a sidewalk located outside a garage operated by defendant corporation. After a jury trial, both defendants were found to be
The Appellate Division reversed on the law and dismissed the complaint, holding that there was no actionable defect in the sidewalk. The court added, however, that "[a]lthough only the city prosecuted an appeal, the whole of the judgment is before us * * * and our disposition necessarily effects a dismissal as to the garage defendant as well." This court now modifies the order of the Appellate Division by reinstating the judgment against Square Depew Garage Corporation.
The gravamen of plaintiff's complaint was that defendants failed to maintain the sidewalk in a condition reasonably safe for pedestrians, which failure proximately caused plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff's proof established that there was a slight gap between two flagstones of the sidewalk. The gap may only be described as trivial. Consequently, it was not error for the Appellate Division to have found no actionable defect in the sidewalk and to have dismissed the complaint against the City of New York.
The other defendant, Square Depew Garage Corporation, however, took no appeal from the judgment. The Appellate Division, therefore, was without power to vacate the judgment against that defendant.
The power of an appellate court to review a judgment is subject to an appeal being timely taken (see CPLR 5513, 5515; see, also, Matter of Haverstraw Park v Runcible Props. Corp., 33 N.Y.2d 637; Ocean Acc. & Guar. Corp. v Otis Elevator Co., 291 N.Y. 254; Roy v National Grange Mut. Ins. Co., 85 A.D.2d 832, 832-833). And an appellate court's scope of review with respect to an appellant, once an appeal has been timely taken, is generally limited to those parts of the judgment that have been appealed and that aggrieve the appealing party (see CPLR 5501, subd [a]; 5511; see, also, Segar v Youngs, 45 N.Y.2d 568; Stark v National City Bank, 278 N.Y. 388, 394; St. John v Andrews Inst. for Girls, 192 N.Y. 382, 386-389; Kennis v Sherwood, 82 A.D.2d 847, 848; Pinder v Gromet, 10 A.D.2d 977, 978; Frankel v Berman, 10 A.D.2d 838; Strecker v Kew Gardens Realty Assoc., 230 App Div 714; cf. Matter of Burk, 298 N.Y. 450, 455). The corollary to this rule is that an appellate court's reversal or
It is, of course, axiomatic that, once an appeal is properly before it, a court may fashion complete relief to the appealing party. On rare occasions, the grant of full relief to the appealing party may necessarily entail granting relief to a nonappealing party (cf. United States Print. & Lithograph Co. v Powers, 233 N.Y. 143, supra). At this time, there is no need to detail or enumerate the specific circumstances when such a judgment or order might be appropriate.
Having set forth the rule in general, the court turns to its application here. The appeal by the City of New York to the Appellate Division brought up for its review, with respect to the defendants, only so much of the judgment as imposed liability against the city. As full relief to the city can be achieved without granting relief to Square Depew, it was error to dismiss the complaint as to Square Depew unless the city's interest could be said to be inseparable from that of Square Depew.
When multiple tort-feasors are found to be liable for damages, they may not be said to have an inseverable interest in the judgment, even though the factual basis for each party's liability is identical. Liability is said to be "joint and several", meaning that each party is individually liable to plaintiff for the whole of the damage (see Restatement, Torts 2d, § 875, and Comment [b]). A plaintiff may proceed against any or all defendants (see Siskind v Levy, 13 A.D.2d 538; Kapossky v Berry, 212 App Div 833). Moreover, a judgment for or against one tort-feasor does not operate as a merger or bar of a claim against other tort-feasors (see Restatement, Judgments 2d, § 49, and Comment
Square Depew argues that the Appellate Division is vested with discretionary power to grant relief to a nonappealing party in the interest of justice, and that the Appellate Division has exercised that discretion in this case. In so arguing, Square Depew relies on CPLR 5522, which provides, in pertinent part, that "[a] court to which an appeal is taken may reverse, affirm, or modify, wholly or in part, any judgment or order before it, as to any party." It has been proposed that the clause "as to any party" vests the Appellate Division with discretionary power to grant relief to a nonappealing party who appears before the court as a respondent. The Appellate Division in the past has claimed this power and applied it on a number of occasions (see, e.g., Halftown v Triple D Leasing Corp., 89 A.D.2d 794; Monahan v Fiore, 76 A.D.2d 884; Foley v Roche, 68 A.D.2d 558; Statella v Chuckrow Constr. Co., 28 A.D.2d 669; Rome Cable Corp. v Tanney, 21 A.D.2d 342). This court now holds that neither CPLR 5522 nor any other statutory or constitutional authority permits an appellate court to exercise any general discretionary power to grant relief to a nonappealing party.
The common-law concept of a judgment rendered against multiple parties was that, if an error found on appeal required reversal as to one party, the judgment must be reversed as to all (see Harman v Brotherson, 1 Denio 537; Sheldon v Quinlen, 5 Hill 441; Cruikshank v Gardner, 2 Hill 333). This result obtained even when theories of liability against the defendants differed or when there was error as to only one of the parties (see Sheldon v Quinlen, 5 Hill 441, 442-443, supra). The rule was derived from the principle "that there can be only one final judgment in an action at law" (Draper v Interborough R. T. Co., 124 App Div 357, 359).
Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be modified, with costs to appellant, by reinstating the judgment in favor of plaintiff against Square Depew Garage Corporation and, as so modified, affirmed.
Order modified, with costs to appellant, in accordance with the opinion herein and, as so modified, affirmed.