Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals held that a grievance complaint filed with the assessor or board of assessment review at the administrative level by a net lessee who is contractually obligated to pay real estate taxes on the property at issue satisfies N.Y. Real Prop. Law (RPTL) 524(3) such that the net lessee may properly commence an article 7 proceeding upon rejection of its grievance.DCH Auto leased a parcel of property in the Town of Mamaroneck upon which it operated a car dealership. DCH's lease with the owner was a net lease requiring DCH to pay the real estate taxes associated with the property, in addition to the rent. DCH challenged certain tax assessments by filing grievance complaints with the town's board of review. The board denied the challenges, after which DCH petitioned for judicial review. Supreme Court dismissed the petitions on the ground that only an owner may file the initial grievance complaints under RPTL 524(3). The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that DCH was included within the meaning of "the person whose property is assessed" under RPTL 524(3). View "DCH Auto v. Town of Mamaroneck" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's judgment dismissing HSBC Bank USA, National Association's claim against the sponsor of an underlying transaction seeking to "revive" an earlier action filed by two certificateholders pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 205(a), holding that there was no error.Defendant, as sponsor of a residential mortgage-backed securities trust transaction, purchased thousands of mortgage loans and sold them to ACE Securities Corp. pursuant to an agreement in which the sponsor made various representations and warranties. ACE Securities deposited the loans in the trust, and the loans served as collateral for $500 million in certificates issued by the trust. Those certificates paid principal and interest to certificateholders based on funds generated by the mortgages. After two certificateholders brought an action against the sponsor HSBC filed a complaint on behalf of the trust purporting to substitute as plaintiff for the certificateholders. Supreme Court denied sponsor's motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the action was time-barred. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that HSBC could not invoke C.P.L.R. 205(a) to avoid dismissal of this time-barred claim. View "ACE Securities Corp. v. DB Structured Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming as modified the order of Supreme Court ruling that the underlying action to foreclose on a mortgage was time-barred pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 213(4) and that the six-year statute of limitations had not been tolled or revived under N.Y. Gen. Oblig. 17-105, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs brought this derivative action against Defendant seeking a declaration that the underlying mortgage was unenforceable because the six-year limitations period for commencing a foreclosure action had expired. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs seeking to cancel and discharge the mortgage. The Appellate Division affirmed as modified. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) N.Y. Gen. Oblig. 17-105, not section 17-101, governs whether the statute of limitations has been tolled or revived in an action pursuant to N.Y. Real. Prop. Acts. & Proc. Law 1501(4); and (2) the Appellate Division correctly concluded that Defendant did not meet the requirements of section 17-105(1) in order to toll or revive the statute of limitations. View "Batavia Townhouses, Ltd. v. Council of Churches Housing Development Fund Co." on Justia Law

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In this residential mortgage-backed securities case, the Court of Appeals held that the contractual "sole remedy repurchase protocol" required that a trustee (Plaintiff) provide loan-specific pre-suit notice in order to invoke a sponsor's (Defendant) repurchase obligation and satisfy the contractual prerequisite to suit. Defendant moved for partial summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims, arguing that the trustee could not pursue recovery for loans not specifically identified in pre-suit letters to the extent the trustee relied on a notice rather than an independent discovery theory. Defendant further sought summary judgment with respect to the method of calculation of the repurchase price. Supreme Court denied the motion, and the appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff could not seek recovery on the subject loans to the extent it asserted that Defendant's repurchase obligation was triggered by notice; (2) Plaintiff could not rely on the relation back doctrine to avoid the consequences of its failure to comply with the contractual condition precedent with respect to the loans in question before commencing this action; and (3) interest recoverable on liquidated loans was limited to interest that accrued prior to liquidation. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this action involving a dispute over ownership of the proceeds of the sale of an Edgar Degas painting that was stolen from Margaret Kainer in the 1930s the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of Supreme Court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint in this case on forum non conveniens grounds, holding that Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion.Plaintiff commenced this action asserting numerous claims against several defendants, including conversion, unjust enrichment, and conspiracy based on the 2009 sale of the painting and seeking damages. Supreme Court granted the motions to dismiss against two defendants. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the complaint on grounds of forum non conveniens. View "Estate of Kainer v. UBS AG" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the construction of approximately twenty-seven miles of Class II community connector trails designed for snowmobile use in the Forest Preserve violated the "forever wild" provision of N.Y. Const. art. XIV, 1 and, therefore, could not be accomplished other than by constitutional amendment.The Forest Preserve is located within the Adirondack Park. In 2006, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation prepared a plan with the goal of creating a system of snowmobile trails between communities in the Adirondack Park. Plaintiff commenced this action alleging that construction of the trails violated article XIV, 1 of the New York Constitution. Supreme Court held that the construction was constitutional. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the planned Class II trails were constitutionally forbidden. View "Protect the Adirondacks! Inc. v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation" on Justia Law

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In this appeal involving a foreclosure action commenced in federal court, the Court of Appeals answered two questions posed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit implicating what a lender must do to comply with N.Y. Real Prop. Act. & Proc. Law (RPAPL) 1304 and 1306.The Court of Appeals answered (1) where a presumption of mailing and receipt arises from evidence in the form of a standard office mailing procedure a borrower can rebut a lender's proof of compliance with RPAPL 1304 with proof of a material deviation from the ordinary practice that calls into doubt whether the notice was properly mailed; and (2) with respect to an RPAPL 1306 filing, the statute does not require the inclusion of information about each individual liable on the loan, and information about only one borrower is sufficient. View "CIT Bank N.A. v. Schiffman" on Justia Law

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In these four appeals turning on the timeliness of a mortgage foreclosure claim and involving the intersection of contracts affecting real property ownership and the application of the statute of limitations, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division order in each case must be reversed.In two cases, the issue was when the maturity of the debt was accelerated, commencing the six-year statute of limitations period. The remaining issues in the other cases turned on whether the noteholder's voluntary discontinuance of a prior foreclosure action revoked acceleration of the debt, thus reinstating the borrower's right under contract to repay the loan in installments. The Court of Appeals held (1) in the first case, the default letter in question did not accelerate the debt; (2) in the second case, two complaints in prior discontinued foreclosure actions that failed to reference the pertinent loan were not sufficient to constitute a valid acceleration; and (3) as to the remaining issues, where the maturity of the debt has been validly accelerated by commencement of a foreclosure action, the noteholder's voluntary withdrawal of that action revokes the election to accelerate. View "Freedom Mortgage Corp. v. Engel" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals concluded that the Town of Irondequoit and the Town of Brighton were entitled to relief on their claims challenging the determination of Monroe County that it would not credit unpaid property maintenance and demolition charges, holding that the County was required to credit the maintenance and demolition charges.The Towns adopted local town code provisions authorizing the imposition of property maintenance and demolition requirements on real property owners providing for reimbursement of any maintenance and demolition costs incurred by the towns. The County later issued a memorandum stating that it would no longer guarantee the maintenance and demolition charges. The Towns then initiated this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action seeking to annul the County's determination. Supreme Court granted relief to the towns, concluding that the charges were unpaid taxes that the County was required to credit. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division and, as so modified, affirmed, holding that the charges at issue must be credited pursuant N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law 936. View "Town of Irondequoit v. County of Monroe" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Board of Standards and Appeals of the City of New York (BSA) interpreting the definition of open space within the meaning of the New York City Zoning Resolution to encompass rooftop gardens accessible to a single building's residents as long as the residents of each building on the zoning lot receive at least a proportionate share of open space, holding that the BSA's determination was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law.Plaintiff commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding asserting that BSA's interpretation of open space had no legal basis under the Zoning Resolution. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed, determining that the definition of open space unambiguously required that open space be accessible to the residents of every building on a zoning lot. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the BSA's application of the definition of open space to multi-owner zoning lots was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. View "Peyton v. New York City Board of Standards & Appeals" on Justia Law