Category Archives: New York Law

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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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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Every Dog is Entitled to One Bite

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

On July 5, 2016, the Bakshis’ dog allegedly mauled a small dog owned by Felice Kobrick and bit the finger of Frances Drakes. The incident occurred in the street abutting the Bakshis’ property in Nassau County. A few days later, Kobrick’s dog was euthanized.

The Drakes sued the Bakshis to recover damages for personal injuries. The Bakshis moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Supreme Court granted the motion.

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Work Contemplated by Lease: Not an Actual or Constructive Eviction

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Fieldstone Capital (landlord) filled a summary (non-payment) proceeding against Ryan & Conlon (tenant). And Ryan & Conlon asserted that it did not owe rent because the firm had been partially evicted, actually or constructively, from its 7th floor office as a result of common area renovation work done by Fieldstone.

Paragraph 4 of the governing commercial lease agreement authorized Fieldstone to make “repairs, alterations, additions or improvements” in or to any portion of the building or demised premises, with “no allowance to Tenant for diminution of rental value and no liability on the part of Owner by reason of inconvenience, annoyance or injury to business” arising from these acts. The provision also provided that Ryan & Conlon was not entitled to “any set off or reduction of rent” due to landlord’s failure to comply with any covenant of the lease, and that tenant’s “sole remedy” at law was an action for breach of contract.

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It’s A Dog’s Life

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Westchester Plaza Holdings, LLC filed a summary holdover proceeding to evict Gertrude Sherwood and her son, Sheldon Sherwood, on the ground that they had failed to cure their violation of the no-pet clause in the parties’ lease. Specifically, Westchester Plaza claimed that  the Sherwoods had violated their lease by harboring a dog without landlord’s permission. and sought a final judgment of possession of their rental apartment. Gertrude did not appear in the action. Sheldon appeared and asserted that the dog was an emotional support animal entitling him to keep  the pet in the apartment under the State’s Human Rights Law.

A non-jury trial was held before the Court. Westchester Plaza called Jana Schmidt, its in-house counsel, who testified that she was informed sometime in late February or March of  2019 that the Sherwoods were harboring a dog in the apartment in contravention of the parties’ lease. Schmidt further testified that, after being informed of the dog in the apartment, she directed her staff to investigate. She also testified that she was informed by her staff that visual observation and video confirmed that a dog was being harbored in the apartment by the Sherwoods. Schmidt further testified that neither  of them asked for permission to have a dog in their apartment.

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Build It And They Will [Sue]

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Virginia F. Kleist and Daniel Stern owned own lakefront properties within the Chautauqua Shores subdivision. All property owners were subject to covenants and restrictions that were filed in 1962, when the subdivision was developed. The covenants and restrictions give “each and every owner of land in [the subdivision] . . . the right to enforce the same by appropriate court proceedings.”

In December 2014, Stern purchased his property with plans to demolish the existing house and build a much larger house. When Kleist saw the site plans for the new house, she notified Stern by letter in early August 2015 that the site plan showed that the home he was about to construct was in violation of paragraph five of the covenants and restrictions, which required a 100-foot setback from the lake line for any building. That same month, Kleist filed suit to enjoin Stern from violating that covenant and restriction and to require him to remove any buildings that were in violation. By her amended complaint, Kleist alleged that the house would also violate the second and fourth paragraphs of the covenants and restrictions.

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The [Rhas] Have It

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Heung C. Rha and Suhn O. Rha agreed to purchase the property located at 16-17 Bell Blvd., Bayside, New York from Alessio Blangiardo  pursuant to a contract signed on October 23, 2014.

The Rhas obligations under the contract were conditioned upon their receipt of a written mortgage loan commitment on or before November 30, 2014. And the Rhas tendered a $110,000.00 down payment, which was deposited into nonparty Salvatore E. Strazzullo, Esq.’s escrow account.

The contract included an Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 Exchange Addendum in which the parties acknowledged that the Rhas intended to purchase the property as part of a tax deferred exchange.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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