Termination of New York Commercial Leases based on Violation of New York Law

New York landlords, often, have it tough in New York.  A recent NY court holding leads credence to the understanding that even a single violation of a New York law related to the illegal use of a New York leased property can lead to the the ability of the NY landlord to immediately void the NY lease. New York Real Property Law Eviction for Illegal Use of Property New York Real Property Law Sec. 231(1) allows for a NY landlord to immediately evict a NY tenant for using the leased property, in New York, for the illegal trade, manufacture, or other illegal use.  We suggest, also, having a clause in your New York commercial lease agreement noting that you have the right to evict in order to provide additional credence to this landlord option and, also, to give specific notice to the tenant of this right of the landlord. Application of

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Suing New York Banks in Equity: New York Equitable Accounting Remedy

Recently, we discussed a case where we were able to hold JPMorgan Chase to their word with regards to a stipulation made in a New York court.  We represented a defunct New York corporation suing for the return of a substantial amount of funds that the bank allowed a co-owner to withdraw without the two-signature authorization required by the New York corporate resolution.   Our theory of recovery was sound.  The relationship between the bank and its depositor being that of debtor and creditor, the bank cannot charge the account of the depositor with moneys paid out without authority. Although research has failed to disclose any New York cases directly on point, it is obvious that a check signed by one of two depositors, where both signatures are required, is not authority for such payment. Our client had contracted their rights away when they established the account with JPMorgan Chase.  You see,

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Possible Legal Concerns Created By Pokémon GO & Other Augmented Reality Games

With the creation of “augmented reality games” like the wildly popular Pokémon GO, attorneys will be considering the possible legal issues that may arise. Augmented reality games involve live direct or indirect views of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In the case of Pokémon GO, fictional creatures are projected onto a mobile device’s camera through the game’s app. With all new technology comes new questions for lawyers to consider. The possibilities are endless, but the American Bar Association has tried to outline what other attorneys are thinking. For players, there is the danger of wandering through the world while distracted by their mobile device. These augmented reality games may lead to conflict and complications between players and non-players enjoying public and private spaces, which may lead to violent confrontations. For government, law already exists

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Federal Government Considering New Debt Collection Rules

For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing new rules that govern debt collection in an effort to clamp down on alleged abusive collectors. Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the Urban Institute, one in three American adults have a report of debt in collections. That equals to over 77 millions Americans. The average debt owed is over $5,000 and typically involves a credit card balance, medical or utility bill more than 180 days past due. The CFPB has fielded over 250,000 complaints since 2011. According to the CFPB, the safeguards suggested are those that debt collection companies frequently ignore, raising the specter of the prototypical company aggressively chasing customers. The rules should also bring some consistency to what is now a hodge-podge of local, state and federal rules and regulations. Under the proposed rules: Collectors must confirm consumers’ names,

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NYC Landlords Sue To Overturn Second Year Of Imposed Rent Stabilization Freeze

New York City landlords want the courts to intervene on the rent freeze on rent stabilized units that takes effect for second straight year.  According to the Courthouse News Service, four landlords, Benson Realty LLC, Danielle Realty LLC, Milagros Huertas and Marilyn Percy, and the Rent Stabilization Association, a trade group that represents 25,00 landlords across New York City, filed a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking to overturn an order adopted by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board that freezes rent increases at 0 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases. This is the second year in a row that the freeze has been ordered. The petition claims that the Order in question is “arbitrary and capricious,” as well as “constitutionally dubious” and asks the Court to annul the Order in question, declaring it unconstitutional under the 5th and 14th Amendments, alleging violations of the

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No, You Cannot Take a “Ballot Selfie” in New York

With the Presidential election looming in a few weeks, here is a reminder that taking a “ballot selfie” to show your social media circles how you voted in New York is actually illegal. Recent published reports note that federal courts recently struck down bans on ballot selfies in New Hampshire and Indiana led us to research what exactly the law is in New York. Election Law 17-130 states, in part: Any person who … makes or keeps any memorandum of anything occurring within the booth, or directly or indirectly, reveals to another the name of any candidate voted for by such voter; or shows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents … is guilty of a misdemeanor.  While the law does not specifically mention photographs, New York is one of 18 states that prohibits “ballot selfies” which is a photo of a

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Cuomo Signs Law That May Cripple Airbnb in NYC

After a summer of discontent, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the toughest restrictions on short-term apartment rentals in the country that may cripple the operations of Airbnb in the state. As discussed in many previous blog posts here, Airbnb is an online marketplace where prospective guests look for a bed to stay in from hosts listing spare rooms and properties for short term rentals. Under the new rules, which we discussed in an earlier posting here, the liability for advertising short-term rentals would shift from building owners to the renters in “Class A” multiple dwellings (buildings designed for three or more families) and those who place the advertisements on sites like Airbnb. Penalties range from $1,000 for a first offense to $7,500 for third and subsequent violations. The stated intent behind the proposed bill is to protect New York’s hotel industry and owners of multiple dwelling properties by preventing illegal

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Federal Court Dismisses Claim That Disney Violated H1-B Visa Law

A federal judge dismissed lawsuits brought by two former Walt Disney Parks and Resorts workers claiming that it conspired with outsourcing companies to violate visa laws. According to published reports, the lawsuit claimed that two American IT workers were laid off and forced to train foreign replacements with H1-B temporary visas after Disney and two contractors, Cognizant Technology Solutions and HCL America, allegedly colluded to make false statements when they applied for the temporary visas. However, a federal judge rejected this assertion, finding that none of the statements put at issue in the complaint were adequate to sustain the former workers’ cause of action. As discussed in a previous blog outlining the different temporary visas that the United States makes available to non-immigrant workers, a H1-B visa allows domestic companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, other

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Suit Claiming NY’s Daily Fantasy Sports Law Is Gambling, Not Skill

An anti-gambling reform group filed a lawsuit last week claiming that New York’s “Daily Fantasy Sports” law violates the NY State constitution by characterizing daily fantasy sports contests as games of skill, rather than games of chance. The suit was filed in New York Supreme Court in Albany County by an organization called Stop Predatory Gambling on behalf of four New York resident plaintiffs who claim to have been negatively impacted by gambling. According to published reports, the suit “seek(s) to protect the public from predatory gambling consistent with the constitution.” Article 1, Section 9 of the state constitution, states, in part that “[n]o law shall be passed… except as hereinafter provided, no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, bookmaking, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state… except pari-mutuel betting on horse races…  and except casino gambling at no more than seven facilities

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Supreme Court Extends RICO Law To Cover Acts By Domestic Organizations Overseas

The Supreme Court determined in RJR Nabisco v. European Community that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — a statute created to fight organized crime across the country, can be applied to prosecute criminal acts outside of the United States and, in some cases, even create a private right of action. Enacted in 1970, RICO is the federal racketeering statute that makes controlling certain “enterprises,” such as a corporation or other less formal association of persons or other entities a crime when one can prove a specific pattern of criminal behavior. RICO has been the centerpiece of the government’s efforts to combat organized crime, labor unions and other conspiratorial entities. It is also used to prosecute all manner of entities, including corporations, engaged in various forms of criminal conduct. RICO also includes a private right of action where parties injured in person or property by actions resulting in violations can

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New York City Considering Subsidizing Legal Counsel For Low-Income Persons In Housing Court

The line for the Housing Court Clerk in Brooklyn Courtesy:  New York Law Journal The New York City Council is considering legislation that would make New York City the first jurisdiction in the nation that would confer the right to counsel in housing court for low-income persons. The bill would guarantee civil legal counsel for low-income tenants in an eviction or foreclosure proceeding, so long as they meet the eligibility cut-off on gross income set at 200% of the federal poverty line (or about $48,600 for a family of four). A lawyer would be appointed by a “civil justice coordinator” from a list of pre-approved legal organizations. The City of New York would then foot the bill for the legal work. New York City is considering the measure in response to a report published in June by the newly created Office of Civil Justice that found that more than 70

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Pokémon Go Lawsuit Claims Game Creators Entice Users To Trespass

Creators of the popular Pokémon Go augmented reality game are litigants in a lawsuit claim that the game entices users to trespass on other’s properties. Nintendo, the Pokemon Company and Niantic Labs are named in a lawsuit filed in New Jersey on behalf of Jeffrey Marder, a homeowner who claims to have had a number of unwanted encounters with Pokémon Go Players on his property. As dicussed in a previous blog posting, augmented reality games involve live direct or indirect views of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. When playing the game players use their smartphone’s camera feature  to “see” Pokémon’s fictional creatures. In the case of Pokémon Go, fictional creatures are projected onto a mobile device’s camera through the game’s app and overlays project Pokémon over the physical world, as well as other items called “Pokéstops” and “Pokémon gyms” that

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New York Extends Time For WTC Disability Claims By 9/11 First Responders

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that extended the submission deadline for disability claims by first responders who worked at the World Trade Center (WTC) and related rescue operations after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The submission deadline under the WTC Disability Law has been extended to September 11, 2018 for first responders affected by the terror attacks. This applies to claims for lost wages and medical benefits for illnesses (including workers’ compensation, disability claims and accidental death benefits) resulting from participating in activities at or near the WTC recovery site in lower Manhattan. Medical claims covered include respiratory, psychological and skin diseases, as well as other serious illnesses like cancer, pulmonary disease, asbestos-related ailments and heavy metal poisoning. The WTC Disability Law establishes a presumption that certain disabilities for certain New York City employees were caused by rescue, recovery or clean-up operations at the World

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States Sue The U.S. Department of Labor To Stop New Overtime Rules

Twenty-one states have joined together in suing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in the hopes of halting the imminent implementation of its new overtime rule, which they claim is unconstitutional and fiscally unsustainable. Starting December 1, the DOL’s new overtime rule mandates time-and-a-half overtime be paid by public and private-sector employers to hourly employees earning less than $47,476 annually. This is a significant jump from the previous salary threshold of $23,660 per year set by Congress in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The DOL’s new overtime rule also includes employees earning less than the new threshold that perform executive, administrative, or professional duties (commonly referred to as “white-collar” employees) who were previously exempt. The aggrieved states argue that the increased threshold is unconstitutional because the original threshold and exemptions were set by Congress and, once the DOL did away with the “white-collar” exemption, the DOL’s action illegally overruled congressional

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Fox Sues Netflix For Poaching Key Employees: Tortious Interference Law

Media giant Fox filed a lawsuit against Netflix claiming it has been damaged by Netflix’s aggressive and improper campaign to unlawfully target, recruit, and poach valuable Fox executives by inducing them to break their employment contracts. The claim that Fox will attempt to articulate is called tortious interference. The elements of a NY tortious interference claim which Fox would have to prove are: The existence of a valid contract between Fox and a third person; Netflix’s knowledge of the contract; Netflix’s intent to interfere with the contract between Fox and a third person; Actual interference by Netflix, which must be “improper” in nature; and Fox suffered damage as a result of Netflix’s “improper” interference. The exact employee contract specifications that would serve as the basis of Fox’s lawsuit is not clear from reading the court filings. Claims for tortious interference can be difficult to prove because proving mere interference with a

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Apple Sued In Class Action For Breach of Contract Over iPhone 7 Pre-Orders

Apple iPhone users who signed up for a program to pay extra with the promise of receiving the latest device each year have filed a class action for a breach of contract claiming that they’ve been told to wait longer for their new gadgets than they should. In a proposed federal class action filed this week filed filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Emil Frank, a Brooklyn resident who participated in Apple’s “iPhone Upgrade Program,” attorneys claim that Apple breached its contract when Frank and others were unable to pre-order the new iPhone 7 prior to its release in stores. The suit claims that participants who had paid into the program were given a lower priority than ordinary buyers when ordering from Apple, resulting in participants having to make additional payments on older phones while they waited in limbo. Additionally, claimants allege that

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What NY Businesses Should Learn From the United States v. Texas Immigration Decision

The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Texas this past June upheld a challenge to a pair of executive orders on immigration. While the political rancor continues on the issue of immigration, especially on the grand stage of election politics, businesses should remain vigilant in the evolution of immigration law on this front. First, businesses are still obligated to use Form I-9 to verify the legal status of new employees even though the form expired.  Noncompliance may lead to monetary penalties up to $16,000 per violation. Second, businesses relying on foreign skilled workers eligible for an H1-B visa should start planning for the next fiscal year – now.  As a result of this Supreme Court decision, the cap on skilled foreign employees remains at 65,000. The USCIS has began accepting H1-B petitions for the 2017 fiscal year, with more than 236,000 petitions filed. Clearly, businesses cannot turn a blind eye

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Airbnb To NY: We’ll Sue If You Pass New Home-Sharing Law

Home-sharing company Airbnb has threatened to sue New York if Gov. Cuomo signs off on a new home-sharing law that would establish heavy fines for tenants that host short-term rentals without being present. According to Fortune, Airbnb general counsel Rob Chestnut sent a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo putting the State on notice that if he signs a recently proposed home-sharing law that clamps down on many short-term rentals, it will sue the state. As discussed in an earlier posting on The New York Law Blog, the New York Assembly and Senate passed a bill earlier this summer that would penalize tenants with heavy fines for advertising short-term rentals for less than 30 days in duration while they are not home. In another posting on The New York Law Blog, we discussed a recent case where the court determined that New York tenants in rent-controlled premises are already prohibited

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Small Businesses Can Start Using Drones According to FAA

New federal regulations take effect that will allow commercial uses of drones in the United States. The rules created by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cover unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds flown for “routine non-hobbyist use.”  The rules govern simple uses of drones for tasks like surveying property, real estate site inspections and photography. The rules do not (yet) allow the use of drones for deliveries and shipping, which require autonomous technology. Among the new FAA rules are the following: All drones have to remain in Visual Line-Of-Sight (VLOS) of the pilot. The remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls must remain within VLOS of the visual observer. No first-person-view cameras; Operation is only allowed during daylight hours. Twilight flying is permitted if the drone has anti-collision lights; Maximum ground speed of 100 mph; Maximum altitude of 400 feet; and Pilots must be over

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New York City Forcing Certain Employers To Sign “Labor Peace” Agreements

New York City is trying to force certain employers to sign “labor peace” agreements with unions. Last month, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an executive order requiring property developers receiving at least $1 million in “financial assistance” to require any large retail and food service tenants on the premises to accept “labor peace” agreements. These so-called “labor peace” agreements would prohibit companies on these premises from opposing the union organization of employees. These kinds of agreements already exist in the state’s Public Authorities Law, which requires hotels, convention center operators and certain contractors to negotiate a “labor peace” agreement with corresponding labor organizations. The New York law applies specifically to all “retail or food establishments” on the premises of any New York “city development project” that is expected to be larger than 100,000 sq. ft, that (a) sells goods, food, or drinks, (b) that employs, or will employ 10 or more

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