In a non-primary residence case, there was a situation where the tenant rented a large westside apartment at a very low price. He decided to basically spend most (over three quarters) of his time in South America since he was living, essentially, on a trust fund.
The tenant actually made the jury demand. Traditionally, this is a frequent tactic used by tenant’s attorneys to scare the landlord into the settlement. Here, the attorney did not calculate that the tenant would not make a favorable witness, nor that the landlord would oppose withdrawing the demand.
Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. presented the jury with evidence such as dates on travel documents, credit card statements, and receipts and tickets from travel to prove that the tenant was out of the country for periods of time exceeding what would allow him to claim primary residence in his New York apartment. ALBPC attorneys documented the tenant’s actual primary residence using aerial photography performed detailed investigations of the tenant and how he was living, and spoke to the residents that lived in the Manhattan building for proof that he did not spend his time there. The ALBPC attorneys also had those tenants come to the jury trial to stand witness.
The jury selection was not sympathetic and did not buy the tenant’s explanations and excuses that are frequently successful in a summary proceeding. They made a determination that the landlord was in fact correct. The tenant forfeited his rights to possession of the apartment in short order.
One lesson in this proceeding is that the demeanor of the witness must always be considered.
Christopher Halligan and Jamie Schare Friedland represented the client in court, while Dov Treiman drafted the trial papers.