Case Notes in

2024

First published: Dec 2024
A Win for the Climate

TAKEAWAY Nearly 18 months passed between the filing of the Glen Oaks complaint and the court’s dismissal of it. One of the more interesting things about the Glen Oaks lawsuit is how much the ground had shifted under the plaintiffs’ feet during that period. For example, New York State released its final Scoping Plan under the CLCPA in December 2022, which, among other things, included an entire chapter highlighting the importance of coordinated action with local jurisdictions. “Partnership with local governments,” explained the Scoping Plan, “is a keystone of the State’s clean energy, adaptation and resilience, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mitigation strategies” – a direct (if implicit) rebuke to plaintiffs’ assertion that the CLCPA pre-empted the CMA. As noted above, the Glen Oaks court was convinced that the two laws were not only consistent but should be read together. In addition, the Department of Buildings issued two sets of rules during the interim period that filled in many of the “vague” provisions of the law. For example, under the first set of rules issued in 2022, the DOB incorporated 61 different use-and-occupancy subgroups with different emissions factors for each, hopefully leading to more equitable and realistic emissions targets for covered buildings. With the newly issued “good faith efforts” rules, the DOB spelled out a detailed process by which building owners could seek to reduce or eliminate the annual fines issued for noncompliance during the 2024–2029 period. These rules underscore New York City’s position, contra the Glen Oaks plaintiffs, that building owners should have multiple viable compliance pathways short of just accepting massive annual fines. This decision is by no means the last word on legal challenges to Local Law 97. Not only is it expected that the Glen Oaks plaintiffs will appeal, but there will likely be new legal challenges once the DOB starts issuing fines to non-complying buildings in 2025. Nevertheless, this decision is a landmark in legitimating robust climate policy at the local level.

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First published: Jan 2024
Is It A Repair or Improvement?

TAKEAWAY: Courts like to defer to the business judgment of boards. As long as a condominium board acts in good faith, within the scope of its authority under the bylaws, and to further a legitimate interest of the condominium, a court is not likely to meddle in board business.

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First published: Jan 2024
Storm in Progress

Takeaway This case illustrates the “storm-in-progress” doctrine where a property owner is “not required to provide a constant, ongoing remedy for an alleged slippery condition caused by moisture tracked indoors during a storm,” but it must take “reasonable measures to remedy a hazardous condition.” As we head into winter and possible snow accumulation (even in the face of climate change) boards must make sure that building staff takes all reasonable affirmative steps to maintain the building, including assigning staff to cover the public areas with mats, continually mop up any moisture on the floor, put wet-floor notices in affected areas, assign someone to continually monitor the affected areas, and keep written assignment and progress notes in the logbooks. I would add: Assign staff to offer to assist disabled and elderly persons to traverse areas of possible danger.

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