Monthly Archives: October 2021

Two Cars Collide on Montauk Hwy In Copaigue

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Who Was At Fault Where Both Violated the Law?

A large part of our tort liability jurisprudence addresses the threshold question of “fault”. But, as a recent automobile collision case illustrates, the “fickle finger of fault” may point in both directions.

Two cars collided in the westbound right lane of Montauk Highway in Copaigue, New York. Just prior to the accident, Diana Lopez was exiting a parking lot with her vehicle half on the apron and half in the right lane in order to cross over Montauk Highway and make a left turn. Christopher Ceravino was traveling westbound on Montauk Highway in the left lane at 30 miles per hour when, from 150-200 feet away, he first noticed Lopez’s vehicle between the apron of the parking lot and the right lane of Montauk Highway. Ceravino did not stop his vehicle, but, instead, moved into the right lane and ultimately struck the Lopez vehicle. The jury found that Lopez was negligent and that her negligence was a proximate cause of the accident and that Ceravino was not negligent. The County Court granted Lopez’s motion to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the evidence. Ceravino appealed.

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“Slip and Fall” in Resi Building Elevator On Rainy Day

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Owner Liable For Personal Injury Claimed

The “storm in progress” rule protects real property owners from sidewalk-related “slip and fall” claims until a reasonable amount of time after rain or snow abates. But, as a recent case illustrates, different rules apply where the weather-related accident takes place inside the building while it is raining outside.

Woon Yin Kwan resides at 20 Confucius Plaza located in New York County. The building is owned by Chinatown Apartments, Inc. and managed by Tudor Realty Services Corp.

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Neighbors Litigate Damage to Patio and Fence

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Damage Caused by Removal of Tree?

Some disputes between neighbors are vindictive. Some cases are retaliatory. And, as a recent small claims proceedings that ended up in an appellate court split-decision demonstrates, some actions are simply petty.

Ksenia Benjaminov brought a small claims action to recover $5,000, alleging that her concrete patio and fence were damaged by the roots of a tree located on the adjacent property of Ron Zhong Zheng. At a nonjury trial, it was established that Zheng had purchased his property in January of 2016 and had since removed the offending tree. The tree had already been in existence when Benjaminov moved into her property over 20 years ago. Following the trial, the Court awarded Benjaminov the sum of $5,000. Zheng appealed.

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Did De Minimus Plantings Lead to Adverse Possession?

This was originally posted to the SGR Blog.

“Mox Nix” If Old or New Law Controlled.

Both owners of contiguous real property have the right to landscape their side of the boundary. But, as a recent case illustrates, a Court may have to decide if, as and when such plantings and maintenance on or across the line rose to the level of adverse possession.

E. 12th St. Holding LLC sued Mousa Lati, the owner of an adjoining property, for adverse possession, trespass, and damages.

Holding’s predecessors (Bettina and Nathan Avidan) bought the property in 1995 as husband and wife; built a new house which was completed in 1998; and transferred title to an LLC in 2015 of which the Avidans are the managing members.

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Apt. Owner Sues Co-Op Board and Managing Agent

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was There Liability for Almost $1m Façade Repair?

The owner of an apartment in a residential co-op has every right to sue the board and managing agent for a perceived breach of the proprietary lease or for breach of fiduciary duty. But sustaining a claim may be easier said than done. And, as a recent case illustrates, a shareholder’s claim arising out of an almost one million dollar façade repair was tested at the outset by several threshold legal defenses. 

Bernard Weinstein was a resident in a cooperative apartment building owned by 12282 Owners’ Corp. Weinstein asserted claims against the Co-Op’s Board of Directors and against the Co-Op’s managing agent, AKAM Associates, Inc., for failure to properly maintain the exterior of the building. The Co-op and AKAM moved to dismiss the complaint.

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Good [Gates] Make Good Neighbors: But Not on Rodgers Lane in Saratoga

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

According to Robert Frost: “Good fences make good neighbors.” (Mending Wall, 1914) But, as a recent case illustrates, a roadway crossing gate may result in an acrimonious legal dispute between contiguous property owners.

Monica and Harold Hulett and Terri Korb own neighboring parcels of land in the Town of Saratoga. Since 1986, the Huletts had accessed their property through the use of a roadway, known as Rodgers Lane, that crossed over a number of their neighbors’ parcels, including a roughly 250-foot-long portion of Korb’s parcel.

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Landlord Seeks Nuisance Eviction Based Upon Violent Gang Activity

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Would Witnesses Be Allowed to Testify Anonymously At Trial?

A multi-family residential building is terrorized by members of an armed and violent street gang that congregates in one of the apartments. The landlord seeks to evict the tenants of that unit in a so-called “nuisance” summary proceeding—in which many of the witnesses would be neighbors of the gang-member/tenants. But those witnesses fear for their safety and want to testify anonymously. And the Court is asked for permission for them to do so. Are the tenants charged with misconduct entitled to know the identities of the witnesses against them? 

Y.A. Mullings Inc. filed a holdover proceeding against Veronica Hall, Oriceida Yearwood, Marcus Yearwood, and Malcolm Yearwood seeking possession of 394 Montgomery Street, Apt. 4B in Brooklyn and alleged that they have committed a nuisance. Mullings asked the Court to permit its witnesses to testify at a closed hearing at which the tenants would not be able to observe the faces or ascertain the identities of the witnesses.

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Was Offer to Sell Mortgaged Residence at Auction Timely Revoked?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

What Was Remedy If Mortgage Balances Exceeded Winning Bid?

It is not unusual in a hot suburban residential real estate market for an offering to morph into a “bidding war”- a de facto auction. And, on occasion, an auction is the sales method of choice from the start. But, as a recent case illustrates, a real estate auction sale may raise some unique factual disputes and concomitant legal issues.

Theodore Brois and Helene Brois authorized Concierge Auction, LLC, to conduct an auction of their property located at 3 Tallwoods Road in Armonk, New York, by an agreement dated May 21, 2018. The Auction Marketing Agreement provided that the auction “shall be conducted without reserve” and that the Brois, as sellers, “shall be obligated to sell the [property] to the highest bidder.” That agreement included a provision giving the Brois the right to cancel the auction, by written notice of cancellation and certain payments, which right expired at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the auction. The Broises pre-executed a contract of sale for the property on June 26, 2018. They also signed a document entitled an Auction Sale Acknowledgment on June 26, 2018, acknowledging that the highest opening bid was $1,500,000.

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