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Hoffmann Investors Corp. v. Ruderman

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
Apr 22, 2015
127 A.D.3d 1086 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015)

Opinion

2015-04-22

In the Matter of HOFFMANN INVESTORS CORP., et al., petitioners, v. Jerold RUDERMAN, etc., et al., respondents.

Novick & Kaner, P.C., New Rochelle, N.Y. (Morton E. Kaner of counsel), for petitioners. Robert F. Meehan, County Attorney, White Plains, N.Y. (James Castro–Blanco and Justin R. Adin of counsel), for respondents Jerold Ruderman, Donna Marie Baloy, Millie H. Becker, Thomas Koshy, Kimberly Morella, Charles Palombini, George Rios, William Schmidt, and Harry Singh.



Novick & Kaner, P.C., New Rochelle, N.Y. (Morton E. Kaner of counsel), for petitioners. Robert F. Meehan, County Attorney, White Plains, N.Y. (James Castro–Blanco and Justin R. Adin of counsel), for respondents Jerold Ruderman, Donna Marie Baloy, Millie H. Becker, Thomas Koshy, Kimberly Morella, Charles Palombini, George Rios, William Schmidt, and Harry Singh.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, New York, N.Y. (Ankush Khardori of counsel), for respondent Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc.

WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, LEONARD B. AUSTIN, and ROBERT J. MILLER, JJ.

Proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 to review a determination of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission dated June 11, 2012, which confirmed a determination of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission Fair Housing Board dated January 17, 2012, made after a hearing, finding that the petitioners engaged in racial discrimination in violation of the Westchester County Fair Housing Law, imposing a monetary penalty, and directing the petitioners to take certain action with respect to their property rentals. The Supreme Court, Westchester County (Warhit, J.), by order dated May 3, 2013, directed the dismissal of so much of the petition as alleged that the County of Westchester acted beyond the scope of its jurisdiction in enacting the Westchester County Human Rights Law, and transferred the matter to this Court to review whether the determination is supported by substantial evidence.

ORDERED that so much of the order dated May 3, 2013, as directed the dismissal of so much of the petition as alleged that the County of Westchester acted beyond the scope of its jurisdiction in enacting the Westchester County Human Rights Law is vacated, on the law; and it is further,

ADJUDGED that the determination dated June 11, 2012, is confirmed, the petition is denied, and the proceeding is dismissed on the merits; and it is further,

ORDERED that one bill of costs is awarded to the respondents appearing separately and filing separate briefs.

The petitioners commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding to review a determination of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission (hereinafter WCHRC), which confirmed a determination of the WCHRC Fair Housing Board, made after a hearing, finding that the petitioners engaged in racial discrimination in violation of the Westchester County Fair Housing Law, imposing a monetary penalty, and directing the petitioners to take certain action with respect to their property rentals.

Having determined that the petition raises a substantial evidence question and could not be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, and since the petitioners' remaining points could not have terminated the entire proceeding within the meaning of CPLR 7804(g), the Supreme Court should have transferred the proceeding to this Court without deciding the merits of the petitioners' remaining points ( see Matter of Huth v. Barr, 56 A.D.3d 556, 557, 867 N.Y.S.2d 510; Matter of Dallas v. Doar, 45 A.D.3d 592, 593, 846 N.Y.S.2d 216; Matter of Royster v. Goord, 26 A.D.3d 503, 505, 810 N.Y.S.2d 212). In this regard, the Supreme Court erred in directing the dismissal of so much of the petition as alleged that the County of Westchester acted beyond the scope of its jurisdiction in enacting the Westchester County Human Rights Law, and that part of the order dated May 3, 2013, must be vacated. Nonetheless, since the record is now before us, we may review those issues de novo ( see Matter of Huth v. Barr, 56 A.D.3d at 557, 867 N.Y.S.2d 510; Matter of Dallas v. Doar, 45 A.D.3d at 593, 846 N.Y.S.2d 216; Matter of Royster v. Goord, 26 A.D.3d at 505, 810 N.Y.S.2d 212).

In their petition, the petitioners challenge the WCHRC's determination on the grounds that it was not supported by substantial evidence, and, separately, that the WCHRC did not have the authority to impose fines, damages, or penalties mandating specific performance against them since those sections of the Westchester County Human Rights Law that created the WCHRC and granted it the power to do so violate State law. As to the first challenge, contrary to the petitioners' contention, the WCHRC's determination was supported by substantial evidence ( see Westchester Fair Housing Law § 700.21 [A]; see generally 300 Gramatan Ave. Assoc. v. State Div. of Human Rights, 45 N.Y.2d 176, 180, 408 N.Y.S.2d 54, 379 N.E.2d 1183; Matter of Sussex Condominium III v. County of Rockland Fair Hous. Bd., 84 A.D.3d 965, 966, 923 N.Y.S.2d 166). As to the second challenge, the petitioners are, in effect, seeking a declaration that certain sections of the Westchester County Human Rights Law violate State law. However, the petitioners are not entitled to such relief. “A declaratory judgment action is the proper vehicle for challenging the validity of a legislative enactment” ( Hudson Val. Oil Heat Council, Inc. v. Town of Warwick, 7 A.D.3d 572, 574, 777 N.Y.S.2d 157). Pursuant to CPLR 103(c), this Court has the power to convert a proceeding into an action. However, that power is conditioned upon this Court having jurisdiction over all of the necessary parties ( see Matter of E2CD, LLC v. Appeals Unit of NYC Envtl. Control Bd., 116 A.D.3d 773, 774, 982 N.Y.S.2d 914; Matter of Stoffer v. Department of Pub. Safety of the Town of Huntington, 77 A.D.3d 305, 907 N.Y.S.2d 38; Matter of Garden City Ctr. Assoc. v. Incorporated Vil. of Garden City, 193 A.D.2d 740, 598 N.Y.S.2d 62). “In a declaratory judgment action challenging a local law or ordinance, the legislative body that enacted the challenged local law or ordinance is a necessary party” ( Matter of E2CD, LLC v. Appeals Unit of NYC Envtl. Control Bd., 116 A.D.3d at 774, 982 N.Y.S.2d 914). Since the Westchester County Board of Legislators was not named as a party or joined in this proceeding,this Court cannot exercise its authority pursuant to CPLR 103(c) ( see Matter of Overhill Bldg. Co. v. Delany, 28 N.Y.2d 449, 458, 322 N.Y.S.2d 696, 271 N.E.2d 537; Matter of E2CD, LLC v. Appeals Unit of NYC Envtl. Control Bd., 116 A.D.3d at 774, 982 N.Y.S.2d 914; Matter of Stoffer v. Department of Pub. Safety of the Town of Huntington, 77 A.D.3d 305, 907 N.Y.S.2d 38; Matter of Garden City Ctr. Assoc. v. Incorporated Vil. of Garden City, 193 A.D.2d at 740, 598 N.Y.S.2d 62).


Summaries of

Hoffmann Investors Corp. v. Ruderman

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
Apr 22, 2015
127 A.D.3d 1086 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015)
Case details for

Hoffmann Investors Corp. v. Ruderman

Case Details

Full title:In the Matter of HOFFMANN INVESTORS CORP., et al., petitioners, v. Jerold…

Court:Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Date published: Apr 22, 2015

Citations

127 A.D.3d 1086 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015)
127 A.D.3d 1086
2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 3361

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