Category Archives: Litigation

Intoxicated Teen/Trespasser Injured on Construction Site at 3 A.M.: Are the Owner/Developer/General Contractor Liable?

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

If a young adult engages in an athletic competition, and is injured while playing, there may be a defense to third-party liability based upon the doctrine of “assumption of risk”. So does that defense protect a property owner where a person drinks to the point of intoxication; trespasses on a construction site; and is injured in a fall?

In July 2015, Michael Desroches and his friend, Daniel O’Grady, visited Daniel O’Grady’s brother, Ryan O’Grady, who resided in the Timber Creek subdivision in the Town of Ballston Spa, Saratoga County. The group socialized throughout the evening and consumed alcoholic beverages. After midnight, they went for a walk in the neighborhood and eventually decided to enter one of the houses still under construction. When Daniel O’Grady entered the house, followed by Desroches and Ryan O’Grady, he saw an opening in the floor that was located between 10 to 15 feet from the entrance and stepped to the side. But Desroches proceeded forward and fell through the opening approximately 8 or 10 feet into an unfinished basement, sustaining head injuries that required hospitalization.

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“Family Feud” Is Not Just a Primetime Realty TV Show: Conflicting Claims to Unit Ownership End Up in Court

This post was originally published on the SGR Blog.

By agreement, circumstance or inheritance, residential cooperative or condominium units often end up being owned by several family owners. A “happy family” can only be found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. So, as two recent cases demonstrate, the family members sometimes end up in a so-called “partition” proceeding in which the Court must decide if the unit should be sold and the parties account for their claims to the proceeds of the sale.

Vernon A. Anthony and his brother, Robert S. Anthony, own condominium Unit 1 at 46 President Street in Brooklyn, as tenants in common. Needless to say, litigation ensued.

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A Bridge[water] Over Troubled Waters

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Local Law 11 Project Divides Condo

Coop and condo boards and unit owners often split into competing factions where one group questions and challenges the decisions of the other. And, as a recent case shows, the charges, accusations and acrimony can lead to very combative litigation.

Petitioners Mike Tong, Cathy Tong, Ann Chen, Te Chen, Nicole Crooks, Kamila Khavasova, Naturi Naughton and Gloria Lee  sought a declaratory judgment and a temporary/permanent restraining order to stop the  Board of Managers of the Bridgeview Tower Condominium from continuing with repairs and renovations relating to New York City Local Law 11.

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Access to a Neighboring Building Is Not Guaranteed

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

The co-op board at 160 E. 65th St. in Lenox Hill hired an architect to inspect the building’s facade – a routine first step toward complying with the city’s Facade Inspection and Safety Program, formerly known as Local Law 11, which requires owners of buildings taller than six stories to inspect their facades and make necessary repairs every five years. The architect reported back that remedial work was urgently needed – and the project would require access to two buildings behind the 178-unit, 32-story co-op tower. Specifically, the co-op sought a license to install, maintain and remove roof protections, pipe scaffolding, a sidewalk shed, and a protective shed on the neighboring property. Also required was a scaffold that would hang directly above one of the two buildings. Safety plans were annexed to the petition.

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Transfer Triggers $900,000+ In State and Local Transfer Taxes: But No Flip Tax Due?

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Proprietary leases for units at residential cooperatives often prohibit an assignment of the lease without the prior written consent of the board of managers. But what are the ground rules if the unit is owned by a limited liability company; the interests in the LLC are assigned: and the lease does not expressly prohibit or require board approval for such an assignment?

A recent case addressed the question: Does a change in the beneficial ownership of an LLC/lessee violate a provision of a proprietary lease which required board approval for any assignment of the lease or the shares appurtenant thereto, “including any interest therein,” but did not expressly prohibit changes in the beneficial ownership of the lessee?

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Court “Fl[u]shes Out” Leaking Loo Litigation

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

A ceiling fixture falls on a tenant in his apartment. Shortly before the incident a toilet leaking from the unit above was replaced. The tenant blames the owner. And the owner blames the plumber. Case closed. Not. Issues of fact as to causation and notice. Claims for contribution and indemnification. Cross-claims for negligence. A textbook case worthy of a bar exam  question.

Daniel Ebalo claimed that he was injured when a ceiling light fixture in his bathroom fell onto him due to the negligent installation of the toilet in the apartment above his by the Trustees of Columbia University, Columbia University, the property owners, and Titan PH LLC, a plumbing contractor.

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The East River Divide

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Litigation is not mathematics. There is not always a universally accepted equation or answer. And as we often tell clients: Any similarity between justice and our justice system may be purely coincidental. Outcomes are often dependent upon the experience-based tendencies of the trial court, or the composition of a jury or appellate court panel.

Many considerations go into filing a lawsuit, such as the various theories of liability to be prosecuted, the nature of the relief sought, and the cost-benefit analysis based upon the anticipated expense of litigation. But occasionally, in a suit to be pursued in New York City, an important threshold consideration is in which of the five counties the proceeding should be filed.

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Bouncy House Brouhaha: Imagined Danger Does Not Invite Rescue

This post originally appeared on the SGR Blog.

What did 26 year old  Samantha Fernandez expect when she entered the bouncy house at her four year old niece’s birthday party? As a recent case illustrates, an injury resulting from an instinctive act of concern raised a plethora of legal issues.

Samantha Fernandez injured her left foot while inside an inflatable rubber bounce house at the Laser Bounce of Li, Inc. children’s entertainment center in Levittown, New York. Fernandez sued Laser Bounce  on various theories of liability, including violations of the New York State Labor Law as well as provisions set forth in bulletins issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In response to Laser Bounce’s motion for summary judgment, Fernandez retreated to the exclusive theory of liability in this matter that the negligent failure to provide adequate supervision of the bounce house which Laser Bounce owned, operated, maintained, and which it had a responsibility to supervise. Laser Bounce moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

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What is a (Door) Man to Do? Level of Lobby Care Required After a Storm

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

When it rains it pours. And sometimes litigation en(sues).

Janice Kasni lived at 30 Lincoln Plaza located on 30 West 63rd Street. Shortly after midnight, Kasni returned from an evening out, when she slipped and fell on the floor of the lobby. It had rained for much of day before the accident and long brown rugs had been placed from the doors to the lobby to the elevator bank.

When Kasni entered the building, she stepped onto the rug in front of the door and then headed left towards a couch that was near the entrance—and stepped off the rug and slipped on the floor.

Kasni testified at her deposition that she had taken up to two steps when both feet went out from under her and she fell backwards, flat onto her back. Prior to stepping on to the floor, she saw “the marble floor, that’s all.” Kasni did not notice any water or wet spots. Only after coming in from the rain, falling and lying on the floor, did Kasni first notice water on the marble floor. The water she saw was clear and was like a small puddle. Kasni was unable able to provide dimensions of the puddle and did not know how long the puddle had been there.

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New York Court of Appeals (March/April 2020)

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

The middle of the 2019-2020 Term of the Court featured only a handful of dispositions on civil matters, but no landmark decisions. Two opinions by Judge Stein, relating to the General Business Law and the  arbitration process, do provide templates for  future GBL  claims and arbitration proceedings.

Plavin v. Group Health Inc.
March 24, 2020

Question: The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit asked the Court of Appeals to decide whether Steven Plavin sufficiently alleged consumer-oriented conduct to assert claims under General Business Law §§ 349 and 350 for damages. An insurance company’s allegedly made materially misleading representations directly to the City of New York’s employees and retirees about the terms of its insurance plan to induce them to select its plan from among the varioous health insurance options made available to current and former City employees.

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