This is an ongoing battle between fair market value tenants in a building which has undergone condominium conversation and their former landlord which is now the Sponsor. While the cases were brought against the tenants in 2006 and 2007 they still remain in possession.
The initial stage of the litigation involved the issue of whether the tenants were entitled to statutory protection under the General Business Law section 352-eeee. The Appellate Term, First Department found that they were not and granted the landlord judgments of possession. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed, but for different reasons. Notably, however, based upon arguments raised by this firm, concerning the procedural posture, the Appellate Division vacated the judgments and remanded the matters for consideration of the remaining defenses and claims.
The most recent stage of the litigation involved a matter once the cases were restored for trial. Earlier in the proceedings, the tenants had moved for discovery but were denied that relief. Then, when new information came to light concerning their main trial defense of retaliatory eviction (with the tenants arguing, inter alia, that they were denied renewal leases because of their organized opposition to the condominium conversation plan) the tenants again sought discovery. The trial court used the request as a vehicle to hold that notwithstanding the Appellate Division’s ruling that the tenants could not utilize the defense of retaliatory eviction.
As a result, the tenants were left without a defense and the parties stipulated to judgments in favor of the Sponsor while preserving the tenants’ right to appeal. Appeal was taken to the Appellate Term, First Department. That court found that the trial court far exceeded its jurisdiction and vacated the judgments. Hence, the tenant have had judgments entered against them on two separate occasions, and twice, as a result of the efforts of this office, have had the judgments vacated. The matters will finally be tried and in coming months.