A Tangled Williamsburg Real Estate Deal and Judiciary Law 487
A condominium deal gone sour is the genesis of this Judiciary Law 487 case. This case initially traveled outside the boundaries of typical cases, and was initially heard by a beth din arbitration panel. Later, it returned to state court and was decided by more conventional means.
Laufer v Skillman Estates, LLC 2014 NY Slip Op 31357(U) May 23, 2014 Sup Ct, Kings County
Docket Number: 503414/2013 Judge: Ann T. Pfau allows dismissal of the JL 487 claims on res judicata proofs.
'Defendants Moshe Junger and Moses Rosner were members of defendant Skillman Estates LLC. Skillman owned real property in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and was the sponsor of a proposed condominium project on the 'property. Plaintiff Moshe C. Laufer (Laufer) alleges that, on August 17, 2004, he entered into an agreement with Skillman to purchase a 1/12 interest in Skillman's property (Verified Complaint), and simultaneously Skillman entered into a contract to sell plaintiffs an Interest in condominium units in the building (id, 14). Laufer complained that Skillman, Rosner and Junger breached the agreements, and commenced a Beth Din arbitration proceeding, which in time resulted in an award in Laufer's favor in the amount of $1,551,000 and specific performance, which award was confirmed by this court. "
"The fourth cause of action, which is the only claim directed against defendant Seyfarth Shaw, seeks treble damages under Judiciary Law 487 under the theory that the Forbearance
Agreement was intended to shield Skillman's assets from Laufer, and also was intended to
deceive the court.."
"Here, the claims alleged in the Verified Complaint against the ECG Defendants arise from the Forbearance Agreement, which was known to plaintiffs before ECG moved for judgment of foreclosure and sale. Plaintiffs were a party to the foreclosure action, and Laufer opposed and cross moved against ECG's motion for a judgment of foreclosure and sale. There are no facts alleged in the Verified Complaint to explain or justify why the claims against the ECG Defendants are raised now, rather than when the parties litigated the significance of the vendee's lien and the Forbearance Agreement in the Foreclosure Action. To the extent that plaintiffs did raise these issues, they were litigated to a final conclusion. Indeed, Laufer argued repeatedly, and without success that his vendee's lien took precedence."
"Even though the legal theory raised in this proceeding is not identical to that set forth in the mortgage proceeding, the claims against the ECG are barred under the doctrine of res judicata. Moreover, the claims against Seyfarth Shaw and the John Doe attorneys, presumably meant to include Seyfarth Shaw attorneys, are barred under the doctrine of collateral estoppel because they are entirely derivative of the attorneys' representation of ECG m the prior action, and of its role m presenting the Forbearance Agreement to the court."