SGR Litigator Victor Metsch Honored with a New York City Bar Justice Center 2021 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

ATLANTA (September 20, 2021) – Smith Gambrell Russell, LLP (SGR) is pleased to announce that attorney Victor Metsch has been chosen from among 2,000 volunteers to receive a City Bar Justice Center (CBJC) 2021 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award. Mr. Metsch was selected by the Director of the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) as that project’s most outstanding volunteer of 2021. CBJC, the largest division of the City Bar Fund which is the nonprofit affiliate of the New York City Bar Association (City Bar), furthers access to justice by addressing unmet civil legal needs of New Yorkers struggling with poverty and systemic socioeconomic barriers. The Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award will be presented to 11 recipients during the Celebrate Pro Bono Awards on October 26, 2021 as the kick off to the City Bar’s observance of National Pro Bono Week. The event will be held in-person with a virtual attendance option.

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Town Voided Certificate of Occupancy Before Closing: Was Non-Disclosure Excused by “Caveat Emptor”?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Caveat emptor”—or “buyer beware”—historically was rule number one of real property purchase and sales. But did the rule still control as to the duty to discover or disclose that a certificate of occupancy had been voided?

David Chapman sought damages for, fraud arising from his purchase of a home from Adam and Jennifer Jacobs. Chapman alleged that the Jacobs represented that there was a certificate of occupancy for a pole barn situated on the property when, in fact, the Town of Farmington voided the certificate of occupancy when it discovered that the barn encroached on the adjoining property.

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Coop Terminated Proprietary Lease for Objectionable Conduct

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

May Court “Second Guess” Board’s Decision? or Did Business Judgment Rule Apply ?

Proprietary leases for residential coop units often permit the Board to terminate a lease for “objectionable conduct”—an arguably subjective cause. In a recent case, the Judge in the Landlord & Tenant Part concluded that the “business judgment rule” did not apply to the facts before the Court. That determination was the subject of an appeal.

111-15 75th Ave. Owners Corp, a residential cooperative corporation, commenced a holdover proceeding against Min Fan and Thomas Pellegrino after the Board terminated their proprietary lease on the ground the tenants had engaged in objectionable conduct. Civil Court denied Owners’ motion for summary judgment, rejecting the argument that the business judgment rule applied to the coop board’s determination to terminate the lease, and finding that the determination was not entitled to deference because Owners had not acted in good faith. The Board appealed.

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Subdivision Declaration Prohibited Daily/ Weekly/ Monthly Sublets: Court Decides if One Year Rental was Covered or Permitted

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Reported decisions abound relating to the violation/enforcement of the prohibition of short-term rentals of coop and condo units. But are those restrictions enforceable where contained in the declaration of a residential subdivision in which each singular property was separately and privately owned?

LG Lakeside Limited Liability Company, owned by Glenn and Laura Kupsch, completed the construction of a home at 6 Mayfair Drive in Bolton Landing, Warren County in early 2018/late 2019. The home is located in the Mayfair Resort subdivision on the shores of Lake George, with all homes in the subdivision subject to a Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions, Easements, and Assessments dated May 15, 2012, and amended on November 13, 2013.

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Much Legal Ado About “Running Bamboo” on Shelter Island: Were Kings Liable to Sultans for Nuisance/Trespass/Negligence?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

“Running bamboo” is an invasive species that is now barred by law in New York. But, as a recent case illustrates, the Court may still be called upon to determine legal liability for the aggressive plants’ encroachment on a neighboring property– where the bamboo was planted before the statutory ban came into effect.

Melinda and Sady Sultan sought damages relating to the spread of bamboo from the neighboring Shelter Island property of Loren and Lynn King. The Sultans sued to recover the cost to excavate and remove bamboo that had spread onto their property from next door and for the installation of a barrier along the property line separating the two properties and along a portion of the rear property line to prevent the future spread of bamboo onto their property. They also sought damages for loss of use of their property. The Sultans’ claims were based on a private nuisance claim, negligence, and trespass.

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Post-Romantic/Real Property Breakup Litigation: Did Incorporation Dissolve Partnership?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Recent posts on this blog have highlighted the various and complicated disputes arising over failed intimate relationships– after which the formerly loving partners became combative adversaries. And, as a recent case illustrates, the jurisprudential gymnastics are even more complex where an oral joint venture evolves into the corporate form of ownership.

According to the complaint in 1995 and 1996, Kristen Eikenberry and Joseph Lamson entered into a romantic relationship as well as an oral partnership together developing and renovating real estate in New York and New Jersey. The complaint refers to the partnership as EL Partnership. And asserts that Lamson provided all the investment and construction services and Eikenberry supplied “market intelligence” and interior and other designs for the properties.

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Condo Owner Alleges Defamation/Interference with Sale: Did Managing Agent & Broker Cross the Line?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

It is easy for a plaintiff to plead the elements of causes of action for defamation and tortious interference with economic advantage. But, as a recent case—involving a condo unit owner, the managing agent, and a real estate broker—demonstrates, it is far more difficult to assert and sustain a plausible claim that can survive a motion to dismiss.

Cheryl Keeling sued the property manager of her condominium and a real estate broker for defamation and tortious interference with economic advantage in what was, in essence, a dispute between Keeling, a unit owner, and the building as to the amount of common charges she owed. Keeling owns a unit at 3614 Johnson Avenue, Bronx, New York. Silvina Salvo also owns a unit in the building. Chintan Trivedi was a property manager for the condo. And Trivedi operated Remax/ITC Realty Company.

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Statement on Facebook Arguably May be Libelous: But Undeniably Defamatory Statement in Lawsuit is Absolutely Privileged

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

“I am going to sue you for libel!!! A not uncommon threat in our multi-faceted media and digitalized-legal landscape. Ironically, as a recent case illustrates, there may be greater defenses to defamatory statements made in Court than to those made on Facebook.

NTC Collision Services, Inc. and Edward Baecher sued Michael E. Archer alleging that a statement made on Facebook constituted libel per se and/or that the statement was false, defamatory, and constituted libel innuendo. Archer moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground, among others, that the statements were based upon pure opinion and were not actionable.

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Condo Unit Owner Inconvenienced by Defective Exhaust Fan: Was the Board Entitled to Foreclose the Common Charge Lien?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Condo unit owners often feel aggrieved by every day “housekeeping” type problems—and withhold payment of their common charges until the matter is resolved. But the Board may file a common charge lien as a result of the non-payment. Was the “inconvenience” of a broken exhaust fan sufficient to stop foreclosure of the lien?

Bristol Plaza is a 50-story “white glove” condominium at 200/210 East 65th Street. Angus McCallum is the fee owner of apartment 21K in the 308-unit building.

The Board sued McCallum to foreclose on a $10,202.72 lien for unpaid make common charges, assessments and other charges assessed against the apartment. The Board moved for summary judgment alleging that no material issues of fact existed as to whether the Board was entitled to foreclose on the lien.

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Legal Loggerheads at Horseheads in Chemung County: Constructive Trust and Unjust Enrichment Claimed

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Failed romantic relationships, in the course of which the parties purchased and sold real property and other assets, are a constant source of post-breakup litigation asserting claims for “constructive trust” and/or “unjust enrichment”. But, as a recent case illustrates, even where based on the same “facts”, the two distinguishable causes of action may lead to different outcomes.

Jim Clark and Michele Locey were involved in a long-term intimate relationship. Clark was in the business of building residential homes and Locey was a real estate broker. Together, they engaged in a business venture in which they would buy parcels of land, build residential homes, and sell for a profit. In 2005, they bought a lot in Florida as tenants in common for their personal use and as an investment and built a house on the property. Clark ultimately contributed approximately $103,000 to that property and Locey invested approximately $400,000. In 2009, Clark deeded his interest in the Florida property to Locey’s living trust and Clark was discharged from the mortgage. In early 2012, they decided to sell the Florida property. Clark then again deeded his interest in the Florida property to Locey’s living trust upon the request of the title company.

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