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H.P. Proceedings Collateral Estoppel

Posted by Ronin Amano on June 23, 2001 at 18:56:25:

In Reply to: The New York Times: Bringing H.P. Proceedings posted by New York Tenant on June 17, 2001 at 11:32:36:

: The June 17th online edition of the real estate section of New York Today/The New York Times has an article, Getting Aid From Courts for Tenants, about bring H.P. proceedings in housing court:

I attended that particular training event. It was great as far as it went. But at the end of the session Ms. Fiekowsky basically said, "if the LL's dont pay you can ask for criminal contempt but it's rarely granted...."

And that the City won't collect the Civil Penalties.

I asked her why, if the LL and tenant are both parties to the action, couldnt the tenant sue for breach of contract in Civil or small claims, and use the HP judgment as collateral estoppel (basically, CE means you win because you won before- issue preclusion). At first she said yes, and then she back pedalled and said, "The judges in Civil Court won't want to deal with this." and cut me off.

I can imagine that if a LL lawyer said, "yes, this is the law but the judges won't like it" that that lawyer would be looking for work. So basically her point was that after paying for the action and missing 15 days of work, tenants win money for the City that the City won't collect against delinquent landlords. I would like to prove the age-old principle of collateral estoppel applies in our Civil court parts as well. I am still very disappointed that a tenant lawyer taught a seminar with a room full of advocates and basically discouraged them from filing HP Actions.

So I am looking for:

1. Attorneys willing to volunteer to appeal test cases where small claims part judges and regular civil court judges refuse to hear the case (on the bizarre theory that only housing court has jurisdiction because the contract is a lease-- nevermind that Housing court jurisdiction is severely limited to narrow actions like HP and Summary evictions (abatements don't cut it as they are limited in time)). This leaves tenants with no forum to bring their claims. (We'll research and write the brief for you) I know it's only CE, first year of law school stuff, but the Civil Court judges are pretty abusive to pro se litigants and won't apply it. A few embarassing reversals will do wonders for refreshing their legal memories of Civil Procedure.

2. Tenants who have won HP actions in the last 5 years.

It is our idea that if the HP judgments result in an instant CE tenant judgment that the City will be embarassed for not collecting the fines, LL's will have incentive to make the repair (a judgment for money is a much better defense to non-payment than counting on Housing Judges to issue a rent rebate), tenants can win their money damages in a context in which they are the prosecuting party, and maybe, just maybe, the tenant bar will wake up, quit whining, and hit the delinquent LLs where it hurts them the most.... In the wallet!

If you are interested in helping out, please contact me through the Rent Wars website.


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