New York City Water Board Bill Credit Lawsuit

Represented the Rent Stabilization Association and individual building owners in high profile litigation challenging a proposal by New York City Water Board, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to subject landlords of large residential properties to a water bill rate hike in order to fund a one-time credit for the owners of smaller, one-to-three-family homes.  In both the trial court, and before the Appellate Division, First Department, Herrick secured rulings blocking the levying of an estimated $76 million in rate hike charges which, we argued, would set a dangerous precedent of instituting arbitrary bill credits and rate hikes, made regardless of economic need and without any rational water-related purpose.   Notwithstanding that we convinced two separate courts and a majority of the total judges that heard the case (6 out of 11, including the Chief Judge of the State’s highest court) of the merits of our position, a divided New York Court of Appeals overturned the lower court decisions and declared that the appellants may implement the bill credits and rate increase.  Shortly after the decision was delivered, however, the appellants issued a public notice proposing to implement the bill credits, while repealing the planned rate increase. Accordingly, this case demonstrates that although it’s difficult to challenge the rationality of determinations by public agencies, even an ultimately unsuccessful legal challenge can cause public agencies to reexamine their conduct.

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