R&E Defeats Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Behalf of Commercial Owner in Manhattan

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, Case ongoing – Last update February 24, 2021
Featuring Jason R. Davidson and Brendan J. Derr

Rosenberg & Estis, representing defendant 1055 Madison Avenue Owners LLC (“1055 Madison”), a commercial unit owner, defeated a motion for partial summary judgment by plaintiff The Board of Managers of the 80th at Madison Condominium (the “Board”), the condominium board of the building 45 East 80th Street.

This action concerns a dispute between the parties over the legal fees billed by the Board’s counsel while the parties negotiated an alteration agreement (“Alteration Agreement”). At or about the end of 2017, Defendant sought to, among other things, perform renovations to the interior and exterior of the commercial unit in preparation for leasing to commercial tenants. Although under no obligation to do so, 1055 Madison, in good faith, advised the Board of its plans for such renovations, including 1055 Madison’s commercial tenant’s plans to install signage to the exterior façade of the commercial unit. Prior to even negotiating an Alteration Agreement, the Board incurred substantial legal fees which the Board insisted 1055 Madison pay pursuant to the condominium documents. While negotiating the Alteration Agreement, the Board reviewed and approved the proposed signage to be installed by 1055 Madison’s commercial tenant. Ultimately, final negotiations of the Alteration Agreement fell through when 1055 Madison refused to pay the Board’s unconscionable legal fees. Thereafter, the Board commenced this action to, inter alia, compel Defendant to remove the signage installed by its commercial tenant on the exterior wall of the commercial unit.

The Court (Richard G. Latin, J.) denied the Board’s motion for partial summary judgment seeking to compel removal of the signage, holding that 1055 Madison established that there are issues of fact relating to the Board’s approval sign and whether they acted unreasonably by not consenting to the sign and, instead, tying approval to the overall settlement relating to the alterations in the commercial unit. The case is ongoing.