Judy C. Selmeci Partner




Judy Selmeci is a dedicated appellate specialist and a core member of the firm’s national Appellate practice. She is the go-to resource for briefing and arguing appeals, including new appellate cases. Her practice covers at the appellate level all substantive areas of the law handled by the firm. She has conducted hundreds of appeals, including before all New York appellate divisions and New Jersey appellate courts and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. These cases have resulted in dozens of reported decisions to Judy’s name and frequently facilitated favorable dispositions of other cases, including advantageous settlements.

In addition, Judy is heavily involved in setting strategy for cases in the pre-trial and trial phases. She assists at the trial level with advice regarding long-term strategy, procedural issues and drafting complex motions for colleagues, especially in high-exposure cases. This consultation is done with an eye toward dismissal at the trial level and positioning cases in the best possible way for any eventual appeal. Once a case is on trial, Judy provides trial-monitoring, including daily transcript review and assistance. In this capacity, she is able to provide daily feedback and research and analysis that can enhance the strength and impact of the firm’s arguments with the trial court and help ensure error preservation for the possibility of appeal.

Judy is most respected for her ability to win long-shot cases and for advancing the law in a favorable way for our clients. A classic example is an early 2018 victory where Judy handled the appeal of an orphan seeking legal status in the United States before an appellate court that had not heard precedent cases of this type in the past. In the resulting decision, agreeing with Judy’s arguments, the court adopted the law from other appellate courts and awarded our pro bono client the relief he needed. In doing so, the court created new and highly favorable precedent for others in similar circumstances.

Judy has lectured and published extensively on legal issues, including procedural points of law that are helpful to the firm’s clients, many of whom are lawyers or have legal backgrounds. Judy provides nearly daily training in motion writing and procedural issues to many of the firm’s junior associates.

Areas of Focus

Appellate law is unique in that attorneys present issues to a multi-judge panel in briefs and at oral argument. There is no additional discovery and the record is limited to the testimony and evidence presented to the trial court. Successful presentations on appeal turn on the record developed before the trial court, the applicable law, and the appellate practitioner’s ability to identify and present favorable arguments. Judy has exceptional research, analytical and writing skills in addition to an effective and distinctive oral argument style that she skillfully combines with her broad and practical knowledge of substantive areas of law and familiarity with appellate practice. These skills, knowledge and abilities enable her to prevail before the often-demanding judges on appellate panels.

The Law of Organ Donation
Among Judy’s impressive credentials is her involvement with most New York City organ donation cases in which an organ procurement organization (OPO) was sued for its role in the transplant process. In most cases, Judy has been able to secure the OPOs’ dismissal in these highly sensitive cases, sometimes in precedent-setting decisions. This experience makes her one of the foremost practitioners in this emerging field.

Representative Matters

Obtained summary judgment in medical malpractice case on behalf of a large New York teaching hospital when the plaintiff, diagnosed with sinonasal cancer, was left with a striking deformity when much of the left side of his face was removed in treatment.

Montilla v. St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, 147 A.D.3d 404 (NY 1st Dep’t 2017) was a case where Judy continued to build on previous victories premised on the identification of defects in an adversary’s summary judgment submissions. Specifically, the case involved a dispute between the parties over a fall in a hospital where the plaintiff claimed that the patient had a stroke because she fell. The defense demonstrated that the events occurred the other way around; the patient fell because she had a stroke. On appeal, Judy successfully demonstrated that the plaintiff’s expert submission was insufficient and defective in many ways; therefore the plaintiff could not defeat the defendant’s entitlement to summary judgment. Judy had previously obtained successful results on similar issues, including in the case of Ahmed v. Pannone, 116 A.D.3d 802 (NY 2d Dep’t 2014).

Friedman v. Hebrew Home, 131 A.D.3d 421 (NY 1st Dep’t 2015) was a precedent-setting win for Judy involving an arbitration clause. The plaintiff had challenged the clause on the ground that it violates the New York Public Health Law, but Judy successfully argued that the section in question is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act and that the McCarran-Ferguson Act does not apply; therefore there is no reverse-preemption present. Further, Judy convinced the court that the clause in question was not procedurally or substantively unconscionable. Therefore, the case was to go to arbitration, rather than be litigated in court.

Kowalski v. St. Francis Hospital, 21 N.Y.3d 480 (2013) was another of Judy’s critical, precedent-setting cases. This case involved the medical malpractice claim of an intoxicated patient who voluntarily presented to a hospital for detoxification treatment but changed his mind and wished to leave while still intoxicated. The hospital did not prevent him from leaving. Hours later, the patient was hit by a car and, in the resulting lawsuit, claimed the hospital should have prevented his departure. New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, held that the hospital had neither the duty nor the right to detain the plaintiff and the case was dismissed.

Carreras v. Morrisania Towers, 107 A.D.3d 618 (NY 1st Dep’t 2013), lv. to appeal denied, 22 N.Y.3d 852 (2013) was another high-exposure case, this one involving a claim of inadequate premises security. The plaintiff was a resident of a housing complex where he had engaged non-residents in a fist-fight that evolved into a shooting. The defendants (including the building and the security company) were awarded summary judgment after the Appellate Division, First Department was persuaded that the plaintiff had the opportunity to avoid the fight altogether, meaning, conversely, that his decision to engage in it was voluntary. This act severed proximate causation, entitling the defendants to dismissal of the case.

VBH Luxury v. 940 Madison Assoc., 18 N.Y.3d 899 (2012) was a precedent-setting coverage case in which Judy successfully argued to New York’s highest court that a liability policy does not provide coverage for litigation arising between the insured and the additional insured of the same policy (such as in this case when the tenant sued the property owner and the owner sought coverage under the tenant’s policy to which he was an additional insured). This case resolved a split between New York’s appellate divisions on the issue and did so in the insurers’ favor.

Kelly v. New York Organ Donor Network, 950 N.Y.S.2d 723 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Suffolk Co., Asher, J.S.C., March 30, 2012) was a critical case to the organ donation community. The allegations against Judy’s client, an organ procurement organization (OPO), were that it failed to prevent the transmission of cancer to multiple recipients of a donor’s organs. In the hard-fought summary judgment battle that followed, Judy prevailed by successfully demonstrating to the court that an OPO is not a medical provider and that it cannot and is not required to identify a misdiagnosis by the donor’s treating physicians. Instead, it can and does merely provide the donor’s known medical information to potential recipients’ physicians so that they may determine whether to accept organs for transplantation.

Rumola v. Maimonides Medical Center, 88 A.D.3d 781 (NY 2d Dep’t 2011) is an example of the many procedural issues that Judy has successfully handled. In this case, the plaintiff failed to timely substitute an administrator to prosecute his case. The Appellate Division, Second Department held that, given the circumstances, the plaintiff “failed to prosecute” his action and may not seek to recommence the case with a new administrator. Accordingly, dismissal was granted. Notably, Rumola is quickly becoming one of the key cases on this issue and has been cited repeatedly by the Second Department in subsequent decisions.