New York Court of Appeals Update (August 2019)

We recently published this on the SGR Blog.

The end of June often sees “blockbuster” decisions by the Court of Appeals before the Summer recess. But the 2018/2019 Term ended “not with a bang but a whimper.” Decisions dealt with important but mundane matters: whether or not a coke oven was a product or a service for strict liability purposes; whether buildings in Lower Manhattan that received certain tax benefits were subject to luxury rent deregulation; and whether an earlier and undocketed judgment of divorce was superior to a later and docketed judgement based on an arbitration award.

Continue reading

Don’t Mess With a Senior Citizen/Tenant (Whose Son is an Attorney)

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Phyllis Kossoff, a 92-year-old woman, lived in an apartment at 910 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan since 1966. After the building was converted into a coop, Kossoff and her husband became proprietary lessees of their unit. A recent dispute arose about whether Kossoff or the coop was responsible for replacing and paying for the replacement of the balcony windows and sills of the unit.

On March 22, 2018 Kossoff was approached by the coop and asked whether she was interested in selling her apartment to another shareholder who lived on her floor. Kossoff said she was not interested in selling her home of over 50 years.

Continue reading

Rooftop (Legal) Warfare on Washington Avenue

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

A recent lawsuit resulted from an ongoing quarrel, between neighbors in a Washington Avenue co-op apartment building, over who owned a 2-foot by 20-foot strip of a shared rooftop terrace.

Justin Theroux (Apt. 2B) filed a complaint against Norman J. Resnicow and Barbara Resnicow, his downstairs neighbors (Apt.1A), for allegedly depriving Theroux of his right to enjoy his property.

Theroux contended that the Resnicows had engaged in a malicious and years-long harassment campaign that included frivolously challenging the boundary line between Theroux’s and the Resnicows’ shared roof deck.

Continue reading

From Russia With Love

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Plaintiff (Natalya) and Defendant (Semen) were married in June 1997. They purchased a home in Valley Stream in September 1997. Semen filed for a divorce in Russia in November 2012 and was awarded a divorce in December 2012.

The parties lived together in the home until January or February 2013. When Natalya returned from a trip to Russia in January or February 2013, she found that the locks had been changed.

In November 2014, Natalya started an action to partition the home. The complaint alleged that Semen was in possession of the home and that he had refused to allow Natalya access to the home; sought return her belongings; and requested an equitable share of the value of the home.

Continue reading

Don’t Block My View of Central Park!

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine.

It’s not only the sleek new condominium towers rising along Billionaires’ Row that offer priceless views of Central Park. At the venerable Essex House Condominiumon Central Park South, an Art Deco gem that first opened as a hotel in 1931, two unit-owners recently fought a court battle royale when one owner blocked a sliver of the other’s coveted view of Central Park.

The case revolved around an intriguing question: just how much is a view of Central Park worth?

Continue reading

New York Court of Appeals Update (July 2019)

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

As the 2018/2019 Term approached the “homestretch”, the Court of Appeals published a “blockbuster” 4-to-3 decision holding that a commercial tenant-to-be, represented by counsel, could waive the right to prosecute a declaratory judgment action and seek Yellowstone relief; another 4-3 ruling with respect to personal jurisdiction over the Ohio firearms’ salesman of a gun used in a New York homicide; and a 6-1 opinion relating to strict liability for design defects. Consistent with a recent trend, all three cases featured unusually strident dissents.

159 MP Corp. v. Redbridge Bedford, LLC
2019 NY Slip Op 03526
Decided on May 7, 2019

In New York, agreements negotiated at arm’s length by sophisticated, counseled parties are generally enforced according to their plain language pursuant to the strong public policy favoring freedom of contract. May commercial tenants who unambiguously agreed to waive the right to commence a declaratory judgment action as to the terms of their leases ask the Court to invalidate that waiver on the rationale that the waiver is void as against public policy?

Continue reading

The Creston Avenue Bathtub Brouhaha

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Who has the time and energy to fight about a leaking bathtub? Some people apparently do. In a recent case, a residential apartment tenant (acting without an attorney) prosecuted claims against his landlord for tub-related building code violations relating to the stability of the bathtub and the containing walls in the upstairs apartment.

To resolve the dispute, a Civil Court Judge, his Court Attorney and three Court Officers went to the apartment, a third floor walk-up on Creston Avenue, to conduct an inspection.

Continue reading

What’s Sauce for the Goose…

This post was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Julianne Allen sued her neighbors Jennifer and John Powers claiming that their two German Shepherds barked incessantly. The dogs’ constant barking at all hours allegedly interfered with Allen’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of her property. The Powers denied the allegations and asserted a counterclaim contending that Allen had repeatedly called municipal authorities with specious complaints in prolonged efforts to make them move or have their landlord, David Bosko, evict them.

Allen asked the Court to dismiss the counterclaim for failing to state a cause of action. Allen argued that the Powers’ allegations sounded like a claim for harassment— and New York does not recognize such a cause of action.

Continue reading

Terrace Tiff at Worldwide Plaza

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Paul M. Lincoln sued Residences at Worldwide Plaza  in Small Claims Court for “loss of use of property.” He sought damages for the loss of use of his condominium unit’s outdoor terrace as a result of renovation of the building’s exterior.

The material facts were not disputed at trial. Lincoln owns Unit 7G at the Residences, a multi-unit condominium building located at 350 West 50th Street, New York, New York. The apartment is 624 square feet, nearly identical in most respects to the other “G line” units above and below the apartment– with the exception of a large terrace adding an additional 1,028 square feet. Given the relative size of the terrace and apartment, Lincoln regularly utilized the terrace for personal use and to host gatherings, particularly during warmer months. For the additional square footage compared to other apartments, Lincoln paid $335 more per month than other “G line” unit owners lacking terraces.

Continue reading

With This Ring I Do Thee (Sue)

This was recently published on the SGR Blog.

C. Baxter and  Sandra Campos began a romantic relationship in 2006. They divided their time between their respective homes in Connecticut and Manhattan. Possessions were moved between the two houses, including artwork and a Steinway piano, without transfer in title. Campos purchased a 2008 Lexus, which he registered in his name and for which he paid taxes.  Baxter drove the car.

Baxter and Campos got engaged in November 2012. They shopped for a ring and Baxter purchased one for Campos. In January 2014, he presented her with the ring (appraised at $24,000).

In February 2014, Campos sent Baxter a Valentine’s Day card. The card had a picture of her displaying a diamond ring on her left ring finger, with the pre-printed language on the card: “Today Tomorrow Always.”

Continue reading