Category Archives: Litigation

Behold the “Litigation Hold”

Originally published on the SGR blog.

You are an officer, director/manager or agent for a corporation, limited liability company or residential cooperative/condominium. You occasionally receive garden-variety  claims for  personal injuries (e.g. slip-and-falls).  And from time-to-time more threatening claims (e.g. discrimination, breach of fiduciary duty).

First thing first: immediately notify your liability insurance carrier in writing.  And second: preserve all hard copy and electronic documents and communications (including all audio and visual records) directly or indirectly relating to the claim.

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The Best Defense Against a Charge of Defamation

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine

In these contentious times, politics at all levels – even at the level of co-op and condo board elections – tend to get ugly. Charges and counter-charges circulate with lightning speed. One recent condo board election led to a lawsuit over the truth of charges emailed by one of the candidates. The case turned on the definition of the D-word: defamation.

Sandra Peterson, a unit-owner at Edgemont at Tarrytown Condominium and a former president of the board of managers, was running for election against fellow unit-owner Mary Ellen Maun. During the election process, Maun sent emails to other unit-owners which, Peterson claimed, were false and defamatory and sent with the specific intent to damage Peterson’s good name and reputation in the community.

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Court Addresses Dispute Over Display of American Flag

We have published a new article on the SGR blog.

Condominium declarations, by-laws and rules and regulations govern many details of residential apartment living and unit owners are obligated to comply with them even if they feel that they impinge upon their rights.  This point is illustrated by a recent lawsuit involving the display of an American flag.

Read more on the SGR blog.

THE ENGAGEMENT “RING” OF LITIGATION

Was an expensive ring a conditional gift given in contemplation of marriage (to be returned if the wedding did not take place) or an outright gift (to be kept whether or not marriage ensued)?

The answer may depend on where the ring was given (New York or elsewhere), and application of principals of choice of law (where the parties resided in different states) and/or conflict of laws (where the laws in different states are not the same).  Three recent cases are illustrative:

McMahon v. Decicco, 2018 NY Slip Op 31706(U), Sup Ct. Suff. Co. (July 18, 2018) Continue reading

Court of Appeals #16

We recently published a new update on decisions from the Court of Appeals.

LITIGATION AS AN ART FORM

Paintings, artifacts, antiquities and other “collectibles” have become almost everyday financial “commodities” in the investment world.  And, as such, those purchases, sales and investments have generated a predictably-broad array of disputes, ending in litigation, that are commonplace with respect to other “commercial” transactions.

A few recent examples follow:

Schulhof v. Jacobs, 2018 NY Slip Op 00528, App. Div. 1st Dept. (January 30, 2018) Continue reading

“IT’S [LITIGATING] CATS AND DOGS”

Litigation with respect to dogs and cats is an unending source of amazement.  Several recent examples follow:

People v. Cherry (Frankie), 2017 NY slip Op 27284, App. Div. 2d Dept. (August 25, 2017)

City Court summarized the pleadings:

Defendant was charged, as follows, with violating Agriculture and Markets Law § 353:

The deponent states that, at the above time and place, deponent observed two pit bulls in the backyard of defendant’s residence, that deponent observed said dogs to have sores on the pelvic area, extremely emaciated, prominent ribs, spine, pelvic bones, exaggerated hour glass torsos, and food and water bowls to be empty and rusted.

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THE DEATH OF YELLOWSTONE?

The Second Department recently released a decision which, if followed by commercial landlords, over time may signal the demise of Yellowstone proceedings.  In 159 MP Corp. v. Redbridge Bedford, LLC, the Court (over a strong dissent) held that a written lease, negotiated at arm’s length by a commercial tenant, may include the waiver of a right to declaratory judgment relief – and held that such a waiver is not void and unenforceable as a matter of public policy.

A Yellowstone proceeding is, at its foundation, a declaratory judgment action.  So, unless 159 MP Corp. is appealed to and reversed by the Court of Appeals, going forward commercial leases may include a waiver of the right to Yellowstone relief.  Such a change would have dramatic procedural and evidentiary significance.  In a classic Yellowstone proceeding, the commercial tenant is given the benefit of the doubt to maintain the status quo.  Under 159 MP Corp., the historical assumptions and presumptions in favor of the tenant under the Yellowstone legal regime would no longer be available.

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Court of Appeals #15

We recently published a new update on decisions from the Court of Appeals

The Fine Line Between Reasonable and Confiscatory Fines

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

The Business Judgment Rule is a powerful shield for co-op and condo boards. It precludes the courts from reviewing board actions so long as the board has acted in good faith, within the scope of its authority, and in the best interest of the co-op corporation or the condo association. That’s a broad protection, but it is not a license for boards to do as they please. That lesson came home in a Manhattan condominium where a dispute arose over a fine for a sublet.

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