Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs brought this hybrid N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and a declaratory judgment action seeking to enjoin the proposed development of parkland in Queens. The proposed development, called Willets West, involved the construction of a shopping mall and movie theater where Shea Stadium once stood. Plaintiffs alleged that because the development was located within parkland, the public trust doctrine required legislative authorization. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed and granted the petition to the extent of declaring that construction of the development on city parkland without the authorization of the state legislature violated the public trust doctrine. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the statutory language and legislative history demonstrated that the legislature did not grant the City the authority to contract a development such as Willets West in Flushing Meadows Park. View "Avella v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) placed liens upon property for reimbursement of relocation expenses pursuant to Administrative Code 26-305. The two petitioners in these consolidated appeals filed petitions seeking to summarily vacate the liens, alleging that the liens were invalid. Supreme Court dismissed the petitions, concluding that summary discharge was inappropriate because determination of the lien’s underlying validity was a matter for a foreclosure trial. Both judgments were appealed. In one case, the Appellate Division reversed, holding that the notice of lien was facially invalid and should be discharged because the notice of lien sought an unreasonable amount of expenses. The Court of Appeals reversed in that case and affirmed in the other case, holding that the liens filed by HPD here were facially valid, and so summary discharge was not appropriate. View "Rivera v. Department of Housing Preservation & Development of the City of New York" on Justia Law

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The case stemmed from a dispute over property subject to the terms of a will executed by a now-deceased member of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation (the Nation). Judge Robert Noonan, a county court and surrogate’s court judge, presided over the proceedings seeking to probate the will in the surrogate’s court. The Nation commenced a N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding in the Appellate Division seeking to prohibit the judge or any future surrogate in the estate proceeding from exercising jurisdiction over the case. The Appellate Division dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the proceeding must originate in Supreme Court. At issue on appeal was whether the proceeding must originate in Supreme Court because Judge Noonan’s position as Surrogate was not one listed in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 506(b)(1), which limits article 78 proceedings that may be commenced in the Appellate Division to those against County Court Judges and Supreme Court Justices, or whether Judge Noonan’s position as a county court judge required that the proceeding be commenced in the Appellate Division. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, where Judge Noonan was acting as Surrogate with respect to the probate of the will, the Nation’s suit challenging those actions should have been brought in Supreme Court. View "Tonawanda Seneca Nation v. Noonan" on Justia Law

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The owner commenced tax certiorari proceedings against the City of Rye, challenging assessments for tax years 2002-2010. for Lot 9 and Lot 10. Lot 10 is within the Rye City School District. Lot 9, which the owner believed to be within that district, actually lies within Rye Neck Union School District. Under RPTL 708, within 10 days of service of the notice and petition on a municipality in a tax certiorari proceeding, a petitioner must mail a copy of those documents to the superintendent of schools of any district within which the assessed property is located. The owner did not comply with that requirements before reaching an agreement with the City. Before that tentative settlement was finalized, the owner recognized its error, notified the Rye District, mailed the petition and notice, and sought the Rye District's consent to settle. The District instead intervened. The court dismissed the petitions with prejudice for failure to comply with RPTL 708. The Appellate Division clarified that dismissal pertained to Lot 9, noting that the action may not be recommenced under CPLR 205(a). The Court of Appeals affirmed. A petitioner who ignores the RPTL 708 mailing requirements and denies a school district the opportunity to economically address a tax certiorari proceeding is not permitted to recommence a proceeding dismissed based upon such noncompliance; to do so would undermine the goals that prompted amendments to RPTL 708. View "Westchester Joint Water Works v Assessor of City of Rye" on Justia Law

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A condominium board commenced a foreclosure action on a condominium unit to recover unpaid common charges owed by the previous unit owner. Two mortgages were consolidated into a single mortgage lien years before the condominium board filed its common charges lien. Plaintiff, the winning bidder in the foreclosure action, commenced this action seeking a judgment declaring that the second mortgage was subordinate to the subsequently recorded common charges lien and was therefore extinguished by the condominium board’s successful action. Supreme Court declared that the consolidation agreement was the first mortgage of record and that Plaintiff purchased the unit subject to the consolidated mortgage. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the consolidated mortgage qualifies as the first mortgage of record under N.Y. Real Prop. Law 9-B. View "Plotch v. Citibank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Ranco Sand and Stone Corporation, the owner of two parcels of contiguous property in an area zoned for residential use, applied to rezone one parcel to heavy industrial use. The Town of Smithtown’s Planning Board, acting as the lead agency under State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), adopted a resolution issuing a positive declaration that rezoning the parcel may have a significant effect on the environment and required Ranco to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Ranco commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding against the Town and the members of the Town Board, seeking to annul the positive declaration and requesting mandamus relief directing the Town to process the rezoning application without a DEIS. Supreme Court dismissed the petition, finding the matter not ripe for judicial review. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the SEQRA positive declaration was the initial step in the decision-making process and did not give rise to a justiciable controversy. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Town’s SEQRA positive determination was not ripe for judicial review. View "Ranco Sand & Stone Corp. v. Vecchio" on Justia Law

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James Pyne, who died during these proceedings, was the founder and sole stockholder of Remet Corporation. Pyne sold Remet’s stock and facilities, along with real property he had been leasing to Remet, to Burmah Castro Holding, Inc. The sales agreement contained an indemnification provision obligating Pyne to indemnify, defendant, and holder the buyer harmless for certain environmental losses. Remet later received a letter from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) notifying Remet that it was a potentially responsible party for environmental contamination at the Erie Canal Site adjacent to Remet’s real property. Remet filed notices of claim against Pyne’s estate seeking indemnification for environmental liabilities under the sales agreement. Remet then brought this action against the Estate asserting claims for contractual and common-law indemnification. Supreme Court granted Remet summary judgment on liability. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that DEC’s letter did not require Remet to take action. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the letter was sufficiently coercive and adversarial as to require action in connection with any environmental law pursuant to the sales agreement; and (2) Remet was entitled to contractual indemnification for past and future environmental losses arising out of DEC’s investigation and remediation of the Erie Canal Site. View "Remet Corp. v. Estate of Pyne" on Justia Law

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The Village of Kings Point adopted a proposal to build a facility in Kings Point Park. Plaintiffs filed an action against the Village, its Mayor and its Board of Trustees seeking to enjoin the Village’s proposed project and its current use of a portion of the Park for storage as unlawful uses of parkland in violation of the public trust doctrine. The State then filed an action against the Village seeking relief with respect to the Village’s proposed project. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for the State and Plaintiffs, permanently enjoining Defendants from proceeding with the project and from obstructing existing access to the Park and directing the Village to remove the materials being stored in the Park. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the causes of action challenging the proposed project were not barred by the statute of limitations; and (2) the continuing wrong doctrine applied to toll the statute of limitations on Plaintiffs’ claims regarding the ongoing use of parkland alleged to violate the public trust doctrine. View "Capruso v. Village of Kings Point" on Justia Law

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The Board of Managers of the French Oaks Condominium, a residential complex located in the Town of Amherst, commenced a Real Property Tax Law article 7 proceeding against the Town challenging the Town’s tax assessment of the development as excessive. A referee concluded that the Board established that its property was overassessed and directed the Town to amend its tax roll and remit any tax overpayments to the Board. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Board did not rebut the presumption that the initial tax assessment was valid. View "Bd. of Managers of French Oaks Condo. v. Town of Amherst" on Justia Law

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Petitioner purchased an apartment building on Staten Island. Petitioner’s parents lived in the building, and Petitioner stayed in their apartment on occasion to attend to their medical needs. Petitioner leased the other two apartments in the building to tenants. For the tax years in question, Petitioner filed nonresident income tax returns in New York. The Department of Taxation and Finance later issued a notice of deficiency, determining that Petitioner owed additional New York income taxes because he maintained a “permanent place of abode” at the Staten Island property during the relevant years. The Tax Appeals Tribunal sustained the deficiency, concluding that in order to qualify as a statutory resident under the Tax Law, a taxpayer need not actually dwell in the permanent place of abode but need only maintain it. Petitioner challenged the Tribunal’s determination, contending that the standard to be applied when determining whether a person “maintains a permanent place of abode” in New York should turn on whether he maintained living arrangements for himself to reside at the dwelling. The Court of Appeals agreed with Petitioner, holding that in order for an individual to qualify as a statutory resident, there must be some basis to conclude that the dwelling was utilized as the taxpayer’s residence. View "Gaied v. N.Y. State Tax Appeals Tribunal" on Justia Law