Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit against defendant, alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. Plaintiff alleged that defendant failed to provide the "amount of the debt" within five days after an initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of a debt, as required by section 1692g. The court declined to hold that a mortgage foreclosure complaint was an initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection debt. In this case, the court concluded that neither the Foreclosure Complaint nor the July Letter were initial communications giving rise to the requirements of section 1692g(a). The court held, however, that the August Letter was an initial communication in connection with the collection of a debt, and that the Payoff Statement attached to the August Letter did not adequately state the amount of the debt. The Payoff Statement included a "Total Amount Due," but that amount may have included unspecified "fees, costs, additional payments, and/or escrow disbursements" that were not yet due at the time the statement was issued. The court explained that a statement was incomplete where, as here, it omits information allowing the least sophisticated consumer to determine the minimum amount she owes at the time of the notice, what she will need to pay to resolve the debt at any given moment in the future, and an explanation of any fees and interest that will cause the balance to increase. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carlin v. Davidson Fink LLP" on Justia Law

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Claimants-Appellants appealed an award of summary judgment which forfeited to the United States various claimants’ interests in multiple properties, including a 36‐story office building located at 650 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, real properties in Maryland, Texas, California, Virginia, and New York, and the contents of several bank accounts. Also at issue is the September 9, 2013 order denying a motion to suppress evidence seized from the Alavi Foundation’s and the 650 Fifth Avenue Company’s office. The court vacated the judgment as to Claimants Alavi Foundation and the 650 Fifth Ave. Co., of which Alavi is a 60% owner because there are material issues of fact as to whether the Alavi Foundation knew that Assa Corporation, its partner in the 650 Fifth Ave. Co. Partnership, continued after 1995, to be owned or controlled by Bank Melli Iran, which is itself owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, a designated threat to this nation’s national security; the district court erred in sua sponte considering and rejecting claimants’ possible statute of limitations defense without affording notice and a reasonable time to respond; in rejecting claimants’ motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a challenged warrant, the district court erred in ruling that claimants’ civil discovery obligations obviate the need for any Fourth Amendment analysis; and the district court erred in its alternative ruling that every item of unlawfully seized evidence would have been inevitably discovered. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re 650 Fifth Avenue and Related Properties" on Justia Law

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This case stems from a dispute between the parties regarding the ownership of a 7.35 carat pear-shaped diamond. WGDC consigned the diamond to celebrity fashion stylist, Derek Khan. Khan, without WGDCʹs permission, subsequently sold the diamond to a third party. Through a series of transfers, the diamond ultimately came into the possession of the Zaretskys. The district court concluded that Khan had the power to transfer WGDCʹs rights to the diamond under NYUCC 2-403(2) solely because, by his occupation, he clearly held himself out as having knowledge or skill peculiar to the practices or goods involved in the transaction. Therefore, the district court found that Khan qualified as a merchant. Pursuant to section 2-403(2), Khan had the power to transfer all rights in a "good" given to him by an "entruster" if he was at the time a merchant who "deals in goods of that kind." However, the court concluded that, although the New York Court of Appeals has not explicitly defined ʺdeal[ing] in goods of that kind,ʺ persuasive authority from New York courts and elsewhere leads the court to conclude that the phrase means the regular sale of the kind of goods at issue in the case; applying that definition, the court concluded that the Zaretskys have not raised a triable issue of fact as to Khanʹs capacity to transfer title under section 2‐403(2) because there is no record evidence that he regularly sold diamonds or other high‐end jewelry; and the Zaretskysʹ remaining arguments - regarding the timeliness of this appeal, whether the consignment is a ʺtransaction of purchaseʺ under section 2‐403(1) of the NYUCC, and the defense of laches - are without merit. Therefore, the court directed the district court to enter summary judgment for WGDC on remand. View "Zaretsky v. William Goldberg Diamond Corp." on Justia Law

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The FHFA filed a summons with notice in state court asserting breach of contractual obligations to repurchase mortgage loans that violated representations and warranties and then Quicken removed the action to federal court. Plaintiff, as trustee of the subject residential mortgage‐backed securities trust, took control of the litigation and filed the complaint. Quicken moved to dismiss the suit. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that (1) the statute of limitations ran from the date the representations and warranties were made; (2) the extender provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act,12 U.S.C. 4617(b)(12), did not apply to the Trustee’s claim; and (3) the Trustee’s claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing was duplicative. View "Deutsche Bank Nat'l v. Quicken Loans" on Justia Law

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TAG filed suit against the City, arguing that the City's zoning policies perpetuated racial segregation and had a disparate impact, thus violating the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3604. In 2010, a jury returned a verdict in favor of TAG on the disparate impact claim, but the district court granted the City's motion for a new trial. In 2012, a second jury returned a verdict in favor of the City on both TAG's perpetuation of segregation and disparate impact claims. The court held that TAG’s lost upfront economic expenditures on a detailed development proposal for a specific piece of property, coupled with the denial of a necessary special use permit, constitute injuries-in-fact that are fairly traceable to the City’s actions, thus affording TAG standing to maintain this action. The court also held that the City waived its argument regarding the inconsistency of the jury verdict; the district court should not have reached the merits of that argument, and it therefore erred when it ordered a new trial on that ground. Further, having concluded that the district court erred in ordering a new trial, and that the City has waived its remaining claims of error relating to the 2010 trial, the court reinstated the 2010 judgment in favor of TAG on its disparate impact claim; remanded with instructions that the district court grant a new trial limited only to the issue of damages unless TAG agrees to a remittitur reducing its award to $100,000; and denied reassignment on remand. View "The Anderson Group v. City of Saratoga Springs" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Imico alleging that it failed to comply with disclosure provisions of the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, 15 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., in connection with plaintiffs' attempt to purchase a condominium apartment. The court concluded that: (1) Imico complied with section 1703(a)(1)(B) by providing the property report to plaintiffs’ designated attorney; (2) Imico’s description of the lot was sufficient to meet the requirements of section 1703(d)(1); and (3) Imico is entitled to any interest that accrued on plaintiffs’ fifteen‐percent down payment while the deposit was in escrow.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court insofar as it held that Imico did not violate section 1703(d)(1), but reversed the judgment insofar as it held that plaintiffs were entitled to rescind their contract due to Imico’s alleged failure to comply with section 1703(a)(1)(B). View "Rai v. WB Imico Lexington Fee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against a group of airlines and security contractors seeking to recover losses after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Plaintiffs alleged that, because defendants were negligent in overseeing airport security systems, the terrorists were able to hijack American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 and to fly those planes into the Twin Towers. The district court entered judgment for defendants. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs are entitled to compensation only for the amount of value that their leasehold interests lost due to the terrorist attacks, that they cannot recover their claimed consequential damages, and that, pursuant to CPLR 4545, their insurance recoveries correspond to, and offset, their potential tort award. The court also agreed that United had no duty to supervise the security checkpoints or detect the hijackers who boarded American Airlines Flight 11. However, the court concluded that the district court erred by using an incorrect methodology when calculating the value by which plaintiffs’ leasehold interests declined, and the district court wrongly decided that prejudgment interest accrues at the federal funds rate on the diminution in value of plaintiffs’ leasehold estates. The district court should have calculated prejudgment interest using New York’s statutory prejudgment interest rate, and assessed that interest based on the final damages award. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "World Trade Center Properties LLC v. American Airlines" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, parents of minor child A.R., filed suit against a real estate agency and its agent for disability discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made housing unavailable on the basis of disability; provided different terms, conditions, and privileges of rental housing on the basis of disability; expressed a preference on the basis of disability; and misrepresented the availability of rental housing on the basis of disability. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court held, however, that the district court erred because there was sufficient evidence presented that A.R. qualifies as disabled under the FHA; the FHA’s prohibition against statements that “indicate[ ] any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on . . . handicap,” pursuant to section 3604(c), may be violated even if the subject of those statements does not qualify as disabled under the FHA; and the “ordinary listener” standard is not applicable to claims under section 3604(d) for misrepresenting the availability of housing. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Rodriguez v. Village Green Realty, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant and his counsel, D&B, (collectively, "petitioners") appealed the district court's grant of the government's motion to dismiss their petition asserting an interest found in property found subject to forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(2) after defendant's co-defendant was convicted. The district court determined that both parties had standing but that petitioners failed to state any claims for relief. The court concluded that because the government’s forfeiture claim qualifies it as a creditor under New York law, the government has standing to challenge D&B's assignment as a fraudulent conveyance; because the record fails to establish whether the transferor of the contested funds was insolvent at the time of the transfer so as to render D&B’s assignment a fraudulent conveyance, the petitioners have, at this stage in the proceedings, alleged a plausible interest in the property sufficient to create standing to seek an ancillary hearing; because the contested funds are subject to forfeiture as “proceeds” of the co-defendant's criminal activity and therefore only came into existence following the commission of his criminal act, petitioners cannot claim that D&B had a superior interest in those funds at the time of the offense as required by 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(6)(A); and because the criminal forfeiture statute limits a third party’s right to challenge a post‐indictment forfeiture order to the two grounds identified in 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(6), petitioners may not challenge the inclusion of the contested funds in the forfeiture order under § 982(a)(2). The court concluded, however, that because D&B accepted the assignment of the contested funds shortly after a Monsanto hearing in which the district court determined that the government failed to establish probable cause to restrain the contested property, and because the petition alleges no additional facts suggesting that D&B had reason to know that the property was forfeitable as a matter of law, petitioners have plausibly alleged that D&B was a bona fide purchaser reasonably without cause to believe that the property was subject to forfeiture. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "United States v. Watts" on Justia Law

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Amtrak appealed from the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing its federal Supremacy Clause claims filed against the Commissioner, claiming that the Supremacy Clause deprived the NYSDOT of authority to condemn Amtrak's property by eminent domain. The district court held that Amtrak's claims were barred under the Eleventh Amendment and, in the alternative, the claims were time-barred. The court concluded that, because one of the parcels of land is not subject to sovereign immunity, the statute of limitations issue must be resolved. Amtrak argued that it suffered two separate injuries: first, when it learned that NYSDOT planned to take its land, and second, when the Commissioner actually executed the takings. Under the circumstances of this case, the court concluded that Amtrak brought its federal claims more than six years afters its claims accrued. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court based on its alternative conclusion that the claims were time-barred. View "National R.R. Passenger Corp. v. McDonald" on Justia Law