[Brawl] Over Troubled Waters

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Plaintiffs (Joseph Ubiles and Bernice Ubiles) and defendants (Ndingfarae Ngardingabe and Julie Camisuli) own adjoining properties on West 147th Street in Manhattan. Plaintiffs claimed that rain water and snow melt was flowing from defendants’ driveway into their property. Plaintiffs contended that, as a result of the runoff, the foundation and the walls of their home had been damaged. They contended that defendants caused the condition by impermissibly altering the water drainage system in defendants’ driveway and doing nothing to remediate the problem despite plaintiffs’ complaints.

Plaintiffs sued. Defendants moved to dismiss based on the statute of limitations and on plaintiffs’ failure to state a cause of action. Defendants claimed that the driveway was installed in 1989 when two lots (431 and 433 West 147th Street) were merged. Defendants argued that the driveway is pitched towards the street and was not causing damage to plaintiffs’ property. Defendants claimed that,  in 2006, plaintiffs requested  their permission to access defendants’ driveway to do pointing work and partial waterproofing on plaintiffs’ wall. Defendants contended that, by 2009, the work on plaintiffs’ wall was deteriorating and rendered the property vulnerable to damage from rain and snow.

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New York Court of Appeals Alert (November 2019)

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

The mid-2019/2020 term of the New York Court of Appeals did not result in any “blockbuster” civil law decisions. The Court, however, did release two opinions that demonstrate how the panel addresses the application of precedents, on the one hand, and substantive conflicts in the Appellate Divisions, on the other.

In the first case, over a stinging dissent, the Court adhered to a 1999 decision holding that a “stairway” may constitute a “sidewalk”  for tort liability purposes.  And in the second, the Court resolved a split in the Departments over whether the filing of suit by a New York attorney who did not (as required by law) maintain an office in the state,  was a curable violation.

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The Concrete (Legal) Jungle

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Serge Somrov purchased apartment 7A at the Bay Parkway Terrace  Condominium. After moving in Somrov replaced the floor of the terrace with Board approval.

Ten years later, Somrov was told that a leak on his terrace was causing water damage to the apartment below. Pursuant to the By-Laws Somrov was required to remove the tiles he installed as well as the cement underneath. And Bay Parkway was obligated to install waterproofing  after which Somrov could re-install the tiles. Somrov removed the tiles but did not remove the cement. Bay Parkway refused to install the waterproofing until the cement was removed.

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Every Dog Will Have Its Day

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Virginia Hough filed a complaint with the State Division  of Human Rights against  1 Toms Point Lane Corporation , a residential cooperative,  alleging a violation of the New York State Human Rights Law.  Hough charged the co-op with discriminating against her on the basis of disability because she was not allowed to keep an emotional support dog in her apartment to help ameliorate her generalized anxiety disorder.

After a hearing, an administrative law judge made a recommendation and findings in favor of Hough. Toms Point was directed to cease and desist from enforcing against Hough any rules or policies prohibiting dogs and awarded Hough compensatory damages of $1,000 for mental anguish. The Commissioner of the Division adopted the  judges recommendation and findings. And the co-op filed a proceeding to review the Commissioner’s determination.  The Division cross-petitioned to enforce the order.

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Some Cases Are Like a Bad Cold—They Keep On Coming Back

This article was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Boyd Richards Parker & Colonnelli, P.L. and Bryan J. Mazzola sought a temporary restraining order, dismissal of the matter, sanctions, and requested the Court to enforce its prior order requiring James Pettus to seek judicial leave prior to filing any further papers with the court.

Pettus, without counsel, initiated the action in late 2018, ostensibly seeking further relief upon prior actions which he initiated against the co-op board of his building. The pending action named the law firm which represents his co-op, their attorney Bryan Mazzola and the Honorable Laura Douglas, who ruled against Pettus in a prior related matter. Pettus’ complaint, according to the Court, “ reads as a stream of consciousness wherein he accuses most of the staff of the Bronx Supreme Court of corruption, racial animus, bribery, fraud, and a litany of other violations most familiar to anyone who has studied intentional torts.”

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What a Tangled [And Costly] Web We Weave …..

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

The commercial lease agreement between The St. Luke’s Hospital Center, as landlord, and WestSide Radiology Associates, as tenant, prohibited WestSide from assigning the lease without St. Luke’s prior written consent.

The lease rider defined an assignment as a transfer of a “Controlling Interest,” meaning “more than a fifty percent (50%) interest in the [stock of the corporate tenant]” or “the ability to control the decisions or affairs of the [corporate tenant].” And the lease required that any assignee be an active member of St. Luke’s medical staff with admitting privileges.

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“Offer and Acceptance” and “Meeting of the Minds” Déjà vu

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

In first year “contracts” (in 1966) at NYU Law, Professor Francis J. Putman spent (what seemed like) several weeks on “offer and acceptance” and “meeting of the minds.” Five decades later, our courts still periodically address those threshold issues. A recent case illustrates the point.

In March 2015, William Collins entered into negotiations with Utica Builders, LLC, for the sale of the Collins’ real property located in Brooklyn. On March 6, 2015, Utica submitted a proposal to purchase the property for $590,000, with a deposit of $29,500. Collins then sent Utica an unexecuted proposed contract of sale that included Utica’s proposed price terms and provided that the property would be sold as is. On March 19, 2015, Utica sent Collins a check in the amount of $29,500, as a deposit,  and four signed copies of the contract of sale– with handwritten additions stating that Collins represented that the “[p]remises are a legal (2) family dwelling as per the certificate of occupancy.” On March 26, 2015, Collins’ attorney changed the handwritten description of the premises from “(2) family dwelling” to “(1) family dwelling,” and sent two original copies of the fully executed contract of sale back to Utica’s attorney.

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Not Every Written and Signed “Agreement” is a Legally Enforceable “Contract”

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

On January 4, 2013, Thelma Sosa and Aron Froimovits signed a handwritten, one-page agreement in which Sosa agreed to sell to Froimovits or his assignee two separate properties in Brooklyn, one located on Menahan Street and the other on Central Avenue. The agreement contained a single purchase price, $1,375,000, for both properties. Froimovits was to give Sosa a deposit of $1,000 “plus $99,000 upon demand of [Sosa] to be held in escrow with [Sosa’s] attorney or a title company.” Froimovits gave Sosa a check for $1,000. No demand was ever made for the additional $99,000.

The Menahan property was to be delivered at closing with at least four apartments vacant. And the Central Avenue property was to be delivered with at least three vacant apartments. The closing was to be held “30 days after notice to buyer that the properties are vacant.”

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If A Tree Falls in the Forest…

This originally appeared on the SGR blog.

In 2016 John and Joanne Rhodes purchased a townhouse unit in the Lagoon Manor Development on the shores of Lake George in the Town of Bolton Landing, Warren County. All common property within the Manor is owned by Lagoon Manor Home Owner’s Association, Inc. Anne Swope also owns a townhouse in the Manor and was a Board member of the HOA from October 2014 to July 31, 2018.

The Rhodes alleged that, on or about August 7, 2017, the Adirondack Park Agency granted permits which authorized view plans to be implemented on HOA property. The view plans — intended to create a “filtered view of Lake George” — provided that certain trees would be removed or trimmed while other trees would remain. The HOA hired a contractor to complete the approved tree trimming.

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Truth is Sometimes Stranger than Fiction

This post originally appeared on the SGR blog.

Jared Schaefer was served food at Tony’s Sushi restaurant that contained peanuts, an ingredient that was not listed on the menu. He alleged that the peanuts caused him to suffer an allergic reaction. Schaefer alleged that the restaurant was negligent in failing to warn him of the presence of peanuts in the food, creating a dangerous condition, and in failing to disclose the presence of a potential allergen.

Tony’s moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, arguing that it did not owe a duty to Schaefer, or, if it did owe a duty, that there was no causal connection between its alleged negligence and Schaefer’s injuries. Schaefer opposed the motion, arguing that triable issues of fact existed as to the duty owed by Tony’s and as to the causal connection between the presence of the alleged allergen and his injury.

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