Appellate Division Reverses Civil Penalty against Landlord over ADA Accommodations
Herrick achieved a significant appellate victory on behalf of a national real estate development and management firm, securing a ruling from the Appellate Division, Second Department that reversed a New York City Commission on Human Rights order requiring the client to pay a $185,000 fine for denying a tenant's request to construct a handicapped-accessible entrance to her Queens apartment. In its ruling, the court wrote that the record lacked "substantial evidence" to contradict our client’s claim that installing an accessible entrance was not structurally feasible. The decision was the culmination of a nearly 6-year-long dispute in which we initially prevailed on the client’s behalf before an administrative law judge who held that the proposed accommodation sought by the tenant was not reasonable. The Commission, however, summarily rejected the ruling, and awarded $200,000 in damages and penalties. A Queens Supreme Court affirmed the agency’s decision but reduced the award of damages. On appeal, and after oral argument, the Second Department reversed the trial court’s decision, holding that the Commission’s determination of unlawful discrimination and award of damages should have been annulled in its entirety.