Case Studies


Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Makes New Law, Evicting Long Term Nuisance Tenant

In Cabrini Terrace Joint Venture v. O’Brien, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. evicted a forty-year tenant who had been creating a nuisance for his neighbors through his disgusting housekeeping practices.

Located in upper Manhattan, Charles O’Brien’s apartment was atrocious, the site of piles of clothing and other debris, and host to hundreds of vermin- some of whom escaped to invade neighbors’ apartments as well. The smell erupting from the apartment was immediately apparent and nauseating as one stepped off the elevator.

But, Mr. O’Brien, himself an attorney who advises tenants in the Housing Court, certainly knew his way around that court and produced piles of papers in both the Housing Court itself and in the Appellate Term.

Further working to O’Brien’s advantage was the court systems well documented preference for keeping long term tenants in their homes. In order to safeguard landlord’s interests, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. had to make a showing so convincing that not only would the court or­der an eviction, but the court would not give the tenant a chance to clean up to stave off that eviction, forcing the landlord to start the proce­dure all over again in a few months.

It was therefore necessary, not only to demon­strate that the tenant himself and his witnesses were unworthy of belief, but that the landlord’s witnesses were, in fact telling the truth- a suf­ficiently compelling truth to convince the court that the problem was not the apartment itself, but the tenant.

With Adam Leitman Bailey as lead trial counsel, and Carolyn Rualo second seated the trial with Dov Treiman and William Gellar drafting memoranda, the team managed to do both on the trial level and the subsequent appeal.

On March 11, 2010, the Appellate Division, First Department handed down its unanimous affirmance of the Appellate Term in Cabrini Terrace Joint Venture v. O’Brien. At issue was an apartment described by all courts hearing the case as a place of roach and rodent infestation, clutter, offensive odors, and stacked newspapers and wiring in disarray. The Court used this decision to clarify the law on post-judgment cure in nuisance proceedings, finding, “A posttrial opportunity to cure was properly denied upon a finding, based on the testimony and the trial court’s own inspection, that the nuisance conditions had existed over a substantial period, had not abated although tenant had been given ample opportunity to do so, and were unlikely to be abated.” Making new law, the court broke new ground, ruling that where the evidence is overwhelming that there is a nuisance and the tenant denies it, post-judgment cure is inappropriate because the tenant cannot cure what the tenant cannot appreciate.

As a result, despite 30 years of allowing tenants to cure any defects after losing at trial, this case changed that precedent and ordered an immediate eviction.

The landlord was represented by the Manhattan law firm of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.


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