Appeals Court Revokes Lower Court's Order to Vacate Settlement Agreement
LVT Number: #31718
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant for nonprimary residence. Tenant didn't appear in court, but occupant appeared and claimed succession rights as a nontraditional family member. Landlord and occupant settled the case and signed a stipulation that was so-ordered by the court. Under their agreement, landlord let occupant remain for six months while she paid use and occupancy before moving out. Soon after that, occupant asked the court to vacate the settlement stipulation, claiming that she didn't understand that she was waiving her succession claim. The court ruled for occupant, and allowed her to vacate the stipulation because it was "unduly harsh."
Landlord appealed and won. Before tenant signed the court stipulation in question, she retained an attorney and signed several prior stipulations where she first agreed to produce succession documents and later got an extension to produce those documents for pretrial questioning. Attorneys for both sides entered into the settlement stipulation after multiple pre-trial conferences. A court interpreter also was present to aid tenant's attorney with discussion of the merits of the case in Spanish, tenant's primary language. Tenant later claimed that she didn't understand what she was signing after speaking with a tenant organizer in the building. But the appeals court noted that tenant didn't claim fraud, collusion, mistake, or accident and didn't challenge the sufficiency of the court's explanation of the settlement agreement or the accuracy of the settlement's interpretation. The occupant's bare-bones, self-serving assertions that she lacked understanding and that she therefore inadvisedly signed the stipulation weren't enough to invalidate her agreement.
Shalimar Leasing, LP v. Mediana: Index No. 2020-665 QC, 2021 NY Slip Op 21270 (App. T. 2 Dept.; 10/8/21; Aliotta, PJ, Weston, Elliot, JJ)