Contractor Allowed to Proceed Under License Held in Different Name

Typically, a home improvement contractor that does not have a home improvement license, and plead the existence of the license in its compaint, loses a lawsuit and is not entitled to recover monies owed.  The Nassau County Suprme Court recently issued a slight twist to this often cited rule.

The case involved the licensing requirement for a home improvement business in Nassau County.  The Plaintiffs are made up of two corporations: one is licensed and the other is not.  The owner of both Plaintiff corporations explained that, for certain marketing purposes, he used both names, but that essentially the corporations are one in the same, i.e. they have the same place of business and he is the president of both corporations.  Furthermore, all contracts with consumers are conducted through the licensed corporation and the licensed corporation is the one named on the engineering plans for this specific matter.

Pursuant to CPLR §3015(e), where the plaintiff’s cause of action against a consumer arises from plaintiff’s conduct of business which is required by state or local law to be licensed by the Nassau County department of consumer affairs, the complaint shall allege, as part of the cause of action, that plaintiff was duly licensed at the time of services rendered and shall contain the name and number, if any, of such license.  Here, Plaintiffs failed to include such information in their original complaint, but, in opposition to the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, plaintiffs sought to amend the complaint to include the requisite information.

Here, the Court refers to Marraccini v. Ryan (17 NY3d 83 [Court of Appeals 2011]), wherein the Court distinguished a contractor who has never been licensed from a contractor who is licensed under a different name.  The Court found that New York common law does not impose the severe sanction of forfeiting the right to be paid when a contract is brought under a different name.

Therefore, the Court found that as one of the Plaintiffs was validly licensed by the Nassau County department of consumer affairs, it denied the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the Complaint and granted Plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint to include the requisite information.

The case was Best Quality Swimming Pool Serv. Inc. v. Pross (Nassau Sup. Ct. 2016).

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