Homeowner Sues Neighbor for Construction Related Water Runoff Damages:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Court Decides If Neighbor Negligently Caused Actionable Nuisance

Richard W. Tortorici sued his neighbor, William Massaroni, in the Small Claims Part, for $1,142.22 in damages for nuisance/negligence in constructing a storm water system and ignoring a Stop Work Order concerning new construction located at a property adjacent to Tortorici’s residence on or about November 12, 2021.

Tortorici testified on his own behalf and called no witnesses. He was cross-examined by Massaroni and made a statement in rebuttal. Massaroni testified on his own behalf and called no other witnesses. He was cross-examined by Tortorici and made a statement in rebuttal. Both parties offered various documents in evidence with the consent of the other.

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“Cain/Able” Legal Duel Over Property in Queens:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Did Brother Establish a Constructive Trust?

Subodh C. Sarker and Nirmal C. Das are brothers. Das is the title owner of real property in Queens, which he acquired from Sarker by bargain and sale deed dated August 26, 2002. Sarker continued to reside at the property after the sale.

In May 2018, Das started a holdover proceeding in the Civil Court to evict Sarker from the property. Das was successful in the holdover proceeding and a warrant for eviction was ultimately issued.

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Former Employee Breached Confidentiality/Non-Compete/Solicit Provisions:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Would Court Enforce Post-Employment Restrictive Covenants?

Mission Capital LLC d/b/a SBG Funding is a financial services firm that provides personalized financing solutions to small businesses.  Jason Javich began working for SBG in February 2020 as an account executive and was employed as a manager at the time of his resignation about 18 months later. In addition to managing his own customers, Javich was also responsible for managing a team of seven account executives that worked under him. Javich oversaw the sales process for all of his team members. And SBG entrusted Javich with access to its proprietary client list database and other sensitive information.

Javich asserted that he joined SBG’s employ as an entry level funding broker and his work did not require any specialized abilities, training, education, or experience, and that, before he began working for SBG, his only full-time job had been as an administrative assistant in a radiologist’s office.

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Pit Bull Bites Neighbor in Common Outdoor Area of Apartment Complex:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog

Was Property Owner Liable to Injury Victim?

On May 5, 2017, Donna Bochman allegedly was bitten by “Bentley”, a pit bull owned by William Santos. The incident took place in an outdoor common area of an apartment complex operated by Colonial Property Management in Middletown, New York.

According to Bochman:

I was walking to Apartment 4 and I was walking on the thing. I saw [Mr. Santos’] dog. I tried to move over. His dog came up to me, because his dog was in the middle, his dog came up to me and tried to sniff my crotch and I said no, I just put my hand no, and next thing I know his dog bit me. At that point I was shocked. My arm was in his mouth. Mr. Santos didn’t seem to notice that the dog had me because he was walking and that’s when I was Oh, my God. Oh, my God. And I remember seeing him hit his dog to try and get him off. He’s hitting Bentley, Bentley and he had to open his mouth to get him off of my arm. I just remember screaming Oh, my God.

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Family Feud Over Painting by Jean-Michal Basquait:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Court Addresses Validity of Will Disposing of $30m+ Estate

On February 18, 2015, Dolores Ormandy Neumann fell in her home and broke her hip. Her neighbor contacted Dolores’ daughter, Belinda, who took her to the emergency room.

The following day, in the hospital before her hip surgery, Dolores executed a testamentary instrument, her penultimate will. The February 19th document was drafted and its execution overseen telephonically by an attorney in Florida, who worked for the Law Offices of Amy Holzman. Holzman, who worked and resided in New York State, was away on vacation and out of the country at the time. That instrument sought to disinherit Dolores’ spouse, Hubert, and after certain specific bequests, including her most significant asset, a painting by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, to Belinda, the February 19th instrument also gave Belinda the residuary estate.

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Niece Petitions to Probate Aunt’s Handwritten “Will” That Excluded Uncle:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Court Decides If Made in Hospital Holographic Will Was Valid

During the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Juanita Koutsakas was admitted to New York Presbyterian Queens Hospital on March 14, 2020 due to symptoms she was exhibiting from an ongoing battle with cancer. She died in the hospital eight days later on March 22, 2020 survived by her sole distributee spouse Steven.

Proffered for probate was an instrument purportedly handwritten by Juanita in the hospital on March 18, 2020 naming her niece Maria Koutsakos as sole beneficiary. The instrument was on a single piece of folded plain white paper and primarily consisted of one dispositive sentence, handwritten on the top in black ink, followed by the name of two banks, Juanita’s signature and the signature and acknowledgment of a notary public.

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Co-op Purchased as Private Residence Used For Short Term Rentals:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Court Decides If Board Had Grounds to Rescind Sale for Fraud?

Trump Village, Section 4 Inc., a private cooperative residential apartment complex, sued Gene Vilensky to rescind the sale of the shares appurtenant to the cooperative apartment he purchased in 2014. The first cause of action in the complaint sought damages for fraud, alleging that Vilensky intentionally misrepresented in his purchase application for the apartment that he would be the sole occupant and use it as his private residence. Trump Village alleged that instead he sublet the apartment on a short-term basis as part of a “real estate business.”  And asserted that Vilensky’s misrepresentations in the purchase application regarding his intent to use the apartment as a private residence induced the Village to approve his purchase—in connection with which the parties entered into an “occupancy agreement” that prohibited its use “for any purpose other than a private dwelling apartment for the [Vilensky] and his family.” Vilensky moved to dismiss the first cause of action on the grounds that it sounded in breach of contract and was insufficiently pleaded.  Supreme Court denied the motion. Vilensky appealed.

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Canine Playdate Between Patron and Gizmo Goes Awry:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Did One Owner Have Claim against the Others?

On August 24, 2017, Irma Sanchez brought her dog, Patron, for a playdate with Michael and Marsha’s dog, Gizmo, at the Birds’ residence. Sanchez alleged that Gizmo ran up to her and knocked her down during the playdate. And alleged that the Birds knew of Gizmo’s propensity to knock people down. On July 11, 2018, Sanchez sued the Birds for damages for the alleged injuries she sustained when Gizmo knocked her down.

The Birds moved for summary judgment dismissing the Sanchez complaint. And alleged that Gizmo did not have any vicious propensities. In support of their motion, they contended that their dog knocked Sanchez down to the ground as a result of playing with Patron in the yard. According to the Birds, they could not be liable for Gizmo’s normal dog behavior. They also alleged that Gizmo did not have any vicious propensities as evidenced by both Sanchez’ and Michael Bird’s examinations before trial. They testified that neither of them had seen or were aware of Gizmo biting, growling, or showing his teeth toward anyone. The Birds highlighted the fact that Sanchez testified that when their dogs played with each other, they did so in a playful manner and Gizmo did not act aggressively toward Patron. And the dogs had playdates frequently, at least one to two times per week prior to the incident.

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Colossal Kerfuffle Over Ownership of Falafel Café:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Hand-Written Note an Enforceable Contract of Sale?

Andres Tobon sued Pita Off The Corner, Inc., Falafel Off the Corner, Inc. Leor Yohanan, Miriam Yohanan and other members of their family for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud, arising from the failed sale of a Manhattan falafel restaurant. Tobon moved for summary judgment on his second and third causes of action in the principal sum of $50,000.

In support of his application, Tobon submitted the verified complaint. The attorney-verified answer with counterclaim; an attorney’s affirmation; a transcript of an appearance by Tobon by counsel, and Leor Yohanan, pro se, before Justice Kathryn Freed on an order to show cause filed by Tobor in a prior action; and a one-page, undated, handwritten document signed by Leor and purporting to memorialize the terms of the sale of the falafel restaurant to him.

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Teenager Steals Car & Kills Woman in a Collision:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Was Owner of Car Liable to the Estate ?

On November 23, 2015, Sharlene Stinson was killed in an automobile collision when her car was struck by a van stolen by a teenager. The van, which belonged to Blasco Beltran, was stolen from his driveway on November 14, 2015. The estate brought a wrongful death action against Beltran, as the owner of the vehicle.

Beltran moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. And submitted evidence that he reported the theft to the police on November 14, 2015. The incident report from that date indicated that Beltran told the officer he had left his vehicle unlocked in his driveway. And the report also stated that Beltran told the officer that he had lost one set of keys to the vehicle weeks before the theft, but he had the remaining key.

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