News

NY BENCH SHORTAGE IMPACTS RULE OF LAW

Click here to read letter from New York Law Journal by Darryl M. Vernon

DISAGREEMENT WITH LANDLORD GROUP'S ARGUMENT

Click here to read letter from New York Law Journal by Darryl M. Vernon

BPP St Owner LLC v. Nichols, 97 N.Y.S.3d 376

Mr. Silagy recently prevailed for the tenant in BPP St Owner LLC v. Nichols, 97 N.Y.S.3d 376 (App. Term 1st Dept. 2019). The ruling changed the law in Manhattan and the Bronx, allowing for the first time succession rights to a rent regulated tenant where the tenant of record on the lease vacated years earlier, but kept on signing the renewal leases after vacating the apartment. Professor Paris Baldacci – Clinical Professor Emeritus of Law at Cardozo School of Law - stated on a tenant’s website that this was “great lawyering” and a “great gift” to similarly situated tenants in Manhattan and the Bronx.

Our firm was recently granted leave to the Court of Appeals to address on behalf of two rent stabilized tenants in contentious issues rising from unlawful deregulation of apartments while landlords are receiving J51 tax benefits. We currently have another case pending at the Court of Appeals with similar issues that we expect to be argued late this year. Partners Yoram Silagy and Darryl Vernon are handling the matter in both appeals.

WHY WE SHOULD ARGUE ABOUT HOW WE ARGUE IN COURTS

Click here to read article from New York Law Journal, April 2019, by Darryl M. Vernon

ABUSES PREJUDICE CASES AGAINST DISABLED WHO WANT ACCOMMODATION PETS

Click here to read article from New York Law Journal by Darryl M. Vernon

MEANING OF 'REGINA' DECISION DEBATED

Click here to read article from New York Law Journal by Darryl M. Vernon

LEGAL ISSUES CONCERNING ANIMALS AND THE MILITARY

On July 21, 2018 Bari Wolf helped organize and moderate a New York City Bar event called “Legal Issues Concerning Animals and the Military” featuring expert panelists on the topic. The military and animals have a long history, affecting current issues involving the use of animals to assist veterans as well as the enforcement of animal cruelty crimes on military bases. This panel of experts addressed the clinical and legal perspective on programs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) working with animals to assist veterans with post deployment issues (e.g. PTSD), issues with veterans acquiring service dogs, the canine research program recently defunded by the VA, and pending legislation like the PAWS Act. They also discussed the 2016 changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, authorizing prosecution of animal cruelty crimes stemming from high profile cases of dog cruelty on military bases. More information can be found on the NYC Bar Animal Committee page or by visiting the “Legal Issues Concerning Animals and the Military” event page”

NEW YORK CITY BAR CENTER SEMINAR

On June 12, 2018, Darryl Vernon led a CLE at the New York City Bar Center focusing on issues concerning water leaks in cooperatives and condominiums in New York. Mr. Vernon's teaching included the relevant governing documents for cooperatives and condominiums, as well as the applicable sections of New York Real Property Law. The seminar covered issues related to leaks, liability and remedies, forums for these disputes, example situations, and relevant case law summaries. Course materials, CD and DVD versions are available on the New York City Bar website.

With pride we announce that one of our associates, Djinsad Desir, will be pursuing full time his career in the judiciary. Starting January 1, 2017, Mr. Desir will be the principal law clerk to the Hon. Larry Schwartz in Rockland County. This will be in addition to his current position as a justice in the Village of Spring Valley where he presides over housing court and criminal matters.

RULES FOR DOG OWNERS

Click here to read article from The New York Times Real Estate Section

BIVENS FORECLOSURE DISMISSAL

Mr. Ginsburg recently successfully dismissed an action where a lender was seeking the default rate of interest for nearly $1,000,000.00. The lender was found to have waived the default rate of interest by accepting a payment after accelerating the debt and re-adjusting the rate back to the non-default rate of interest. The mortgage stated that a waiver had to be in writing and the Court accepted the re-adjustment as a sufficient writing.

NEW FOUR-LEGGED NEIGHBORS

Click here to read article from The New York Times Real Estate Section

A MORE EQUAL ROAD TO SUCCESSION IN REGULATED APARTMENTS AFTER OBERGEFELL AND THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY ACT

Click here to read article by Darryl M. Vernon in the New York Real Estate Reporter discussing the firm’s victory under equal rights and succession laws.

FIRM PREVAILS FOR MITCHELL LAMA COOP OWNER IN LOWER COURT AND APPELLATE DIVISION.

In a dispute over rights to remain in a Mitchell Lama Coop, Mr. Vernon and Mr. Silagy successfully argued that the coop improperly demanded that the unit owner go through the succession process when the unit owner was on the initial stock and thus entitled to remain. Justice Alice Schlesinger’s decision in our favor was unanimously affirmed on appeal.

COMMERCIAL BUILDING TRANSACTIONS

Representing the Tibetan community of New York and New Jersey, Mr. Vernon closed on their purchase of a 25,000 sq. ft. facility that will be used as a cultural hall in Queens. The related financing of this $4.4 million purchase was provided by J.P. Morgan Chase. Mr. Vernon also represented the seller of a commercial Co-operative building in Manhattan. The closing concluded a transaction of an $11 million sale to the developer of a site on Madison Avenue between 32nd and 33rd streets.

First Church of Religious Science

On behalf of the First Church of Religious Science, we prevailed both in the lower court and recently at the Appellate Division against Argent Ventures, a real estate venture company. Argent sued the Church claiming that a two-page letter that Argent got the Church’s reverend to sign should be a binding agreement to sell the Church’s sole real estate asset in midtown Manhattan. After prevailing in the appeal, the firm went on to represent the Church in the sale of the property for $17.5 million. The firm is now representing the Church in the acquisition of new property for its members.

MIDTOWN SALE TO DEVELOPER.

Culminating in the sale of a midtown building to a developer, the firm represented the seller through several decades of acquisition of all of the commercial coop units in the building. The sale and acquisition involved financing as well as leasing issues. We represented the seller in the later purchase of commercial properties.

Katz v. 61 East 9th St.

In Katz v. 61 East 9th St, we brought suit against a co-op corporation that attempted to improperly obtain sublet charges, and require sublet approval, from a psychotherapy practice. Our client had always been allowed to have one of their offices used by other therapists without charge, or interference from the co-op. The case addresses the issue of when a professional lease will be considered an unsold lease and thus not subject to the co-op’s charges for subletting or any approval process. After trial, the firm prevailed on behalf of a tenant that was given a deregulated lease for an apartment that was not lawfully removed from rent stabilization.

NY Times Real Estate Feature Article

The feature article in the NY Times Real Estate Section analyzed how the laws protecting the disabled allow accommodation animals in coops, condos and rental housing. Mr. Vernon addressed some of those issues in the article.

City Council Votes To Affirm West End-Collegiate HD Extension Designation With Modifications

Working with the West End Preservation Society, Mr. Vernon helped make possible a landmark designation protecting tenants for dislocation.

ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK REAL ESTATE LAW REPORTER

The Tyranny of the Majority in Small Co-ops. Written by Mr. Vernon. Click here to read article in its entirety. In what was called the Pizza Wars, Mr. Vernon represented Patsy and Carol Grimaldi in a claim brought against them by a competing pizzeria. The firm defeated the competitor’s attempt to shut down the Grimaldis’ new pizzeria called Juliana’s. Representing three shareholders in a four unit cooperative in SoHo, Mr. Vernon defeated a claim by the remaining fourth majority shareholder to take away certain space from the other three unit owners. The issue of how the board would be elected is being decided in the Appellate division and being handled by the firm. An article by Mr. Vernon concerning this case is forthcoming in the New York Real Estate Reporter.

ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL

Interpreting ‘Support’ Pet Disability Law In “A Landlord’s Obligation to Permit ‘Support’ Pets” (NYLJ, June 5), a good point is made that the U.S. Department of Justice, when enforcing a disabled person’s right to have an accommodation animal in one’s home, does not require a separate showing of how that accommodation animal helps within one’s apartment. The Department of Justice’s application is consistent with the definitions in the federal, state and city laws protecting the rights of the disabled. I would add that Kennedy Street Quad v. Nathanson, 62 AD3d 879, 879, NYS 2d 437 (First Dept.), cited in the article, can and should be read as consistent with the Department of Justice’s position. The court in Nathanson found that to establish a violation under the state human rights laws protecting the disabled “the complainants must demonstrate that they are disabled, that they are otherwise qualified for the tenancy, that because of their disability it is necessary for them to keep the dog in order for them to use and enjoy the apartment, and that reasonable accommodations could be made to allow them to keep the dog.” To support this holding, the court cited One Overlook Ave. Corp. v. New York State Division of Human Rights, 8 A.D.3d 286, 287 [2004]. In Overlook the holding was that the complainant had failed to demonstrate through medical and psychological expert evidence that an accommodation animal was required. This shows that the holding in Nathanson was that the complainants also “failed to present any medical or psychological evidence to demonstrate that the dog was actually necessary in order for them to enjoy the apartment.” It was the lack of medical evidence that defeated the complainant’s claim, not that one had to show exactly how the accommodation animal helped them within the apartment. To require proof beyond documentation of a disability, and that the accommodation animal is medically helpful, would be an illogical application of the statute. Once a disabled person has shown that an accommodation animal is medically helpful, there can not be a separate and additional requirement showing how that accommodation animal is required to use and enjoy one’s home. When someone shows that he or she has a disability and the need for an accommodation animal, that accommodation animal must be allowed in the person’s home, or the disabled person will not be able to use or enjoy that home. To interpret the Nathanson ruling otherwise would mean that while one can keep his or her accommodation animal, he or she can not necessarily keep his or her apartment. Virtually the entire purpose of the laws protecting the disabled when it comes to housing is to allow disabled people to have reasonable accommodations in their housing, not as some portable accommodation they must take elsewhere. In fact, such an interpretation of Nathanson would make it so that any disabled person could not take their particular accommodation animal to any housing that was the subject of the disability laws. It should be obvious this interpretation would be contrary to the purpose of the laws protecting the disabled.
Darryl Vernon Vernon & Ginsburg

COOP APPELLATE LITIGATION

Mr. Vernon represented a co-op unit owner in an appeal arising from a dispute concerning alterations. The firm prevailed in the appeal, with the Court finding that the business judgment rule does not protect a board when it comes to enforcing a contract. The matter was remanded for the unit owner’s right to show that her alterations were in compliance with the subject agreements, as well as the unit owner’s claim for legal fees.

FIRM PARTNER A PANELIST AT CIVIL RIGHTS ROUND TABLE AT NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL AND SPONSORED BY THE DEPT. OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

April 26, 2012 Mr. Vernon was invited to be a panelist at the first annual conference of the Civil Rights Roundtable, in which participants included the Dept. of Justice, the Dept. of Education, and the New York State Division of Human Rights. The program was well attended, and the guest speaker was Soledad O’Brien. The accomplished goal of the program was in educating the public about various changes in the disability laws.

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS

The firm continues to handle the purchase, sale and financing of cooperative and condominium units, as well as brownstones and houses. A review of a cooperative/condominium plan, all amendments, financials and board minutes continues to be a crucial aspect of such transactions.

COOP OWNERS GROUP REPRESENTATION

The firm represented a group of approximately eighty coop unit owners, for whom Mr. Vernon successfully negotiated, and litigated, modifications to rules allowing companion animals.

REPRESENTATION OF DISABLED PROSPECTIVE COOP PURCHASER

With victories in both the Lower Court and Appellate Division, the firm prevailed in a challenge to a board’s discriminatory rejection of a prospective purchaser. Mr. Vernon argued in both the Lower Court and the Appellate Division in support of the Court’s finding that a board may not inquire into a person’s disability as part of an application process. The case was reported on the front page of the New York Law Journal

FIRM PREVAILS IN REPRESENTATION OF RENT STABILIZED TENANT’S RIGHTS UNDER COURT-ORDERED NEGOTIATED STIPULATION

Mr. Vernon and Mr. Silagy of the firm prevailed against a landlord’s attempt to renege on a negotiated settlement agreement in which the firm’s client, a rent stabilized tenant, had previously succeeded as the rent stabilized tenant by way of a court ordered stipulation.

FIRM PREVAILS IN APPELLATE TERM UNDER STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

June 2nd, 2010 The Appellate Term upheld the firm’s lower court victory that the six-year statute of limitations bars a claim that a tenant’s companion animal was a breach of her lease. The rent stabilized tenant’s Yorkshire terrier had lived at her apartment for 7-and-a-half years before the landlord attempted to evict her for breaching a no-pet clause. The firm moved to dismiss the proceeding based on the statute of limitations for breaches of contract under CPLR 213, as well as waiver under 27-2009.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York. As Judge Peter Wendt found, the landlord was barred from maintaining the case by a six-year statute of limitations for breaches of contract. The proceeding was dismissed and the landlord ordered to pay the tenant’s legal fees. On appeal, the Appellate Term affirmed. The statute of limitations applies regardless of whether a landlord, co-op or condo knew of the presence of the companion animal. Mr. Vernon handled both the lower court case and appeal.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING BOARD-APPROVED ALTERATION AGREEMENTS IN CO-OPS

February 24th, 2010 A recent New York Law Journal article discussing apartment alterations in co-ops and condominiums, and the importance of having board-approved alteration agreements, highlighted Babeli v. 7-11 East 13th Street Corporation, a 2003 cases involving a cooperative unit owner with such a board-approved alteration agreement. After moving for preliminary injunction, Ms. Babeli won a court order compelling her co-op to allow her to proceed with agreed-upon alterations. The court, reviewing the agreement the co-op board had made with the plaintiff, concluded that she should be allowed to connect her rooftop space to her apartment by a staircase as outlined in the agreement. Further, the co-op’s stalling in coordinating the completion of the alterations-in-progress were pretext for trying to force Ms. Babeli to purchase more shares for her rooftop space, and in part because she had to live amidst ongoing construction, plaintiff met the requirements for preliminary injunction. Ms. Babeli was represented by Mel B. Ginsburg.