Helbock Nappa & Gallucci, LLP, announced a favorable ruling on behalf of one of its local architectural clients. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York issued the ruling in the Matter of Willis Avenue Development LLC v. Block 3400 Contraction Corp et al on September 14, 2016.
This case stems from the sale of real property located in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island, in what is now known as the NYC Hillside Preservation District. The property was being sold vacant but with approved plans to build 5 townhouses. At the time the parties went into contract for the sale of the property, however, the effective date of the rezoning of the neighborhood was fast approaching. The rezoning required the reduction of the size of the development to 4 houses.
The plaintiff developer attempted to start building the houses on the plot prior to the effective date of the zoning change. The developer was not able to install the complete foundation prior to the effective date, so the NYC Building Department issued violations on the property that prevented the issuance of the certificate of occupancy for the homes. It was determined that the foundations for the houses were not completed prior to the deadline for the zoning change. When the new owners could not sell the property, they sued the prior owners, as well as the prior owner’s architect and engineer, seeking damages. The lower court dismissed the case and now the appeals court agreed.
Helbock Nappa & Gallucci, LLP, associate counsel Michael DeSantis, Esq, representing the architect, argued that the allegations of professional malpractice of the construction professionals were unfounded and should be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. Both the lower court, and now the appellate court, adopted Mr. DeSantis’ argument. The Court also held that negligent misrepresentation cause of action against the defendants should be dismissed because the buyers of the lot were not a “known party” that could reasonably rely upon the architectural site plan. Finally, the Court also agreed with Mr. DeSantis’ argument that the fraud claims against the defendants should be dismissed because the plaintiff did not justifiable rely on any alleged misrepresentations.
Mr. DeSantis argued both the summary judgment motion before the lower court and rebutted the plaintiff’s appeal to the appellate division on behalf of the defendant architect. The matter will proceed to trial against one of the remaining defendants in January of 2017.