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Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Summarily Evicts ‘Game the System,’ Squatter, Paving the Way for the Client’s Development of Its Mixed-Use Building

By Massimo F. D'Angelo


After several other prior law firms retained by Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s client – one of the country’s largest and leading title insurance companies – were persistently rebuffed at restoring its insured to possession of its mixed-use Brooklyn building by a long-time squatter that was a professional at ‘gaming the system,’ which derailed the insured’s development plans, it turned to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., NYC’s premiere real estate litigation firm.

Facts

Upon being hired, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. immediately began performing its due diligence by interviewing the insured in order to ascertain all of the relevant facts and circumstances underlying the matter, and obtaining all of the parties’ respective court filings.  In connection with its initial investigation, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. quickly discovered the matter’s long and tortured history.

Although the insured became the rightful owner of the subject property, a mixed-use building in a trendy up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood approximately six years prior, due to the squatter’s questionable tactics, and intentional and blatant abuse of the Court system, the insured had been excluded from its building during that entire period.  As a result, the insured was unable to move forward with its gut rehabilitation of the structure, resulting in substantial economic losses.

The underlying case was a tax foreclosure action that was originally brought by the City in the Supreme Court of New York, Kings County back in or around 2002, due to the failure of the squatter, who also happened to be the preceding owner of the property in question, to pay real estate taxes and water and sewer charges.

In that action, from which the squatter never prosecuted an appeal, the Court found that the summons, complaint, and notice of pendency were served upon the squatter and that the squatter failed to interpose an answer.  Accordingly, the Court appointed a referee to compute, and a judgment of foreclosure and sale was subsequently granted, which the squatter never timely moved to vacate, modify, or appeal from.  Following the Court’s issuance of the judgment of foreclosure and sale, the insured was forced to endure delays over a nine year period because of the squatter’s multiple bankruptcy filings that triggered automatic stays.

In addition, the Court found that the squatter never exercised a right of redemption and despite delays and rescheduling that extended over a nine year period, the squatter failed to demonstrate that she was ready, willing and able to satisfy the lien prior to the sale or participate in the bidding process.  However, instead of moving out of the property in accordance with the Court’s rulings, the squatter remained in the property and actually proceeded to enter into various residential and commercial leases with third-parties, illegally holding herself out to be the true owner of the property.  Thus, while the insured was prevented from entering the property for purposes of developing it, the squatter pilfered the lease profits that belonged to the insured, all while refusing to pay use and occupancy, to the insured’s extreme prejudice.

ALBPC Prevails in Every Forum, Speedily Restoring Insured to Possession

Following the completion of its due diligence, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. commenced separate and individual summary holdover proceedings for each residential and commercial unit within the subject building, and swiftly moved for summary judgment in connection with each of those proceedings for possessory judgments and warrants to be executed upon by a NYC Marshal.  At the time that Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. commenced the summary proceedings, it simultaneously made an emergency application to intervene in the Supreme Court foreclose action seeking, inter alia, a writ of assistance that would allow the insured to evict the squatter with the assistance of a NYC Sherriff, thereby providing additional insurance for the squatter’s removal.

In an attempt to counter Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s aggressive litigation strategy, the squatter, who was represented by counsel, cross-moved on the insured’s emergency application for a writ of assistance in the Supreme Court case seeking to “reconsider and rescind” the Court’s prior order finding the insured to be the true owner of the property.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. opposed the squatter’s cross- motion on technical grounds by arguing that a motion to “reconsider and rescind” does not exist under NY court rules, and that notwithstanding, the squatter’s motion was time barred since it was not made within 30 days of service of the Court’s prior Order with notice of entry, as required by the relevant rules.  Even assuming that the matter was not technically deficient, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. argued on substantive grounds that the City properly foreclosed on the squatter’s liens, which she failed to timely appeal from, and then subsequently sold the property to the insured, thereby vesting title in the insured entity.  The Court agreed with all of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s legal arguments in denying the squatter’s cross-motion.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. also commenced a separate action in Supreme Court to recover all of the outstanding use and occupancy that the squatter owed for all of the years that she illegally occupied the property in which the insured was successful.

As a result of the Court’s order denying the squatter’s cross-motion, shuttering any questions concerning the vestment of title in the insured to bed, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was granted possessory judgments and warrants in the various Civil Court proceedings, along with a writ of assistance by the Supreme Court.  However, once it went to enforce its warrants and writ of assistance, and finally put an end to this fifteen year old saga, the squatter brought numerous applications to further delay this matter.

First, the squatter filed an Order to Show Cause before the Appellate Division to stay her eviction.  Since no cogent reason was presented regarding why an interim stay should be granted, Justice Chambers refused to grant interim relief.  Having failed to get relief, the squatter withdrew the motion.

Then, the squatter went back to the Civil Court, told a judge a false story regarding non-existent stipulations, and obtained a stay pending the return date of the Order to Show Cause.  ALBPC immediately made an emergency application pursuant to CPLR § 5704(b) to vacate the stay, which was granted.

Next, the squatter returned to the Appellate Division with another application claiming, dehors the record, that she had somehow satisfied the underlying lien that served as the basis for the foreclosure.  The “proof” was some check written by some unidentified stranger.  Again, the Appellate Division was unimpressed, and denied the interim stay.

Undaunted, the squatter then ran back to the Civil Court and brought two more applications to stay the evictions. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. interposed strong opposition explaining the falsity of her claims and her applications were therefore denied.

Conclusion

Finally, after the squatter was soundly defeated multiple times in every single forum by Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., she was evicted from the property.  Prior to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s involvement, the insured, who was adjudged to be the true and rightful owner of the subject property back in 2002, was forced to suffer through many years where it was unable to use and enjoy its property for its financial benefit.  Thankfully, the insured hired Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., who won in every forum, summarily evicted this nightmare squatter, and restored the insured to possession.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. partner Dov Treiman prepared the papers, while Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. partners, Massimo F. D’Angelo and Jeffrey R. Metz litigated the case on behalf of the client.

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