Alan R. Levy Obtains Defense Verdict in NY County Bench Trial on Commercial Landlord/Tenant Dispute Arising from Alleged Interference due to Construction Project

April 2, 2024

Gallo Vitucci Klar LLP Partner, Alan R. Levy recently prevailed on a 2-week bench trial in the Civil Part at the Supreme Court of the State of New York – New York County before the Hon. Dakota D. Ramseur, J.S.C. The lawsuit alleged interference of a commercial lease due to construction incidents had been pending in the New York State Courts for twelve (12) years, resulting in several Summary Judgment Decisions and two (2) Appellate decisions before finally going to Trial, which resulted in a “no cause” verdict on behalf of our commercial landlord clients.

Plaintiff operated a veterinary clinic which was a tenant on the first floor of a commercial building owned by our landlord clients, and alleged from 2010 – 2012, their veterinary operations were interfered with due to ongoing construction projects on the three floors above them. In 2012 (shortly after signing a 10-year lease extension), the Plaintiffs filed suit against the landlords seeking more than $10 million in alleged lost profits along with claims for damaged property, rent abatement, etc. Over the next twelve 12 years, after two (2) separate Appellate decisions in 2014 and 2019, the bulk of Plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed, leaving Plaintiffs to pursue the claim of seeking a full rent abatement for the construction period at Trial, which (after pre-judgment interest) would have added up to approximately $750,000 if Plaintiff had prevailed.  The subject lease agreement included a unique provision stating the tenants were entitled to withhold rent if “more than thirty percent (30%) of the demised premises is damaged or affected thereby and the demised premises cannot be open for business to the general public.” During Trial, Mr. Levy persuaded the Court to preclude Plaintiff’s unreliable evidence as to what percentage of the property had been damaged. In addition, Mr. Levy successfully used Plaintiff’s own financials/accounting documents to show that the Plaintiff’s business had always remained open during the construction period.

As a result, following 2-weeks of trial testimony and motion practice before Judge Ramseur, the Court issued a decision holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to any recovery and dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint in its entirety.