Waivers Clear Way for Approval of Rent Overcharge Class Action Lawsuits
New York Law Journal
April 26, 2013
Rent overcharge actions can be certified as class actions as long as tenants waive their right to collect treble damages and individual tenants are allowed to opt out, the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled in three decisions handed down yesterday.
One of those decisions, Downing v. First Lenox Terrace, 100725/10, overturned an October 2011 decision by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos, who held that rent overcharge actions cannot be adjudicated as class actions. That case was argued before the First Department a year ago, on April 26, 2012. The opinion was signed by Justice Richard Andrias, joined by Justices Peter Tom , Dianne Renwick and Sheila Abdus-Salaam . Justice Leland DeGrasse dissented in part.
The other two cases, Gudz v. Jemrock Realty, 603555/09, and Borden v. 400 East 55th Street Associates, 650361/09, were argued more recently, on Jan. 16 and Jan. 24 of this year, respectively. Both decisions, which were unsigned, upheld trial court decisions certifying classes of tenants seeking rent overcharges.
The panel in Gudz was split 3-2, with Justices Tom, John Sweeny and Judith Gische in the majority and Justices Karla Moskowitz and Sallie Manzanet-Daniels dissenting. The panel in Borden, which consisted of Justices Andrias, Renwick, Helen Freedman and Paul Feinman, was unanimous.