Christopher Hous. Ct. Co. v Murrell
Decided on May 26, 2006
APPELLATE TERM OF THE SUPREME COURT, FIRST DEPARTMENT
PRESENT: McKEON, P.J., McCOOE, GANGEL-JACOB, JJ
Christopher Housing Court Co., Petitioner-Landlord-Respondent,
Maxine Murrell, Respondent-Tenant-Appellant.
Tenant appeals from a final judgment of the Civil Court, Bronx County (Howard Malatzky, J.), entered October 21, 2003, which awarded possession to landlord in a holdover summary proceeding.
Final judgment (Howard Malatzky, J.), entered October 21, 2003, affirmed, without costs.
Upon our review of the record developed at the compliance hearing, we find that the evidence supports the court's determination that tenant substantially violated the terms of the parties' so-ordered stipulation by threatening the health and safety of landlord's personnel. The record reveals that tenant taunted, cursed at and used abusive language against the building site manager and building supervisor. Additionally, tenant, while holding up signs in front of the management office, engaged in verbal outbursts against the building site manager, which on one occasion resulted in the summoning of police. Tenant's abusive behavior toward building personnel, upon which the underlying holdover proceeding was premised, continued unabated during the first three months of the one-year probationary period agreed upon by the parties. In these circumstances, landlord was properly awarded a possessory judgment.
Phyllis Gangel-Jacob, J., dissenting.
I respectfully dissent. Based on the record developed at the compliance hearing, I find that landlord failed to establish that tenant substantially violated the terms of the parties' so-ordered stipulation by engaging in prohibited activities. Pursuant to the terms of the stipulation, tenant agreed to refrain from the type of "activities" alleged in the underlying termination notice, including "destroy[ing] the property of the landlord" and "threaten[ing] the health and safety of the landlord's personnel." While the hearing evidence permits a finding that tenant continued to [*2]vent her anger at the building site manager, her post-stipulation conduct, which essentially amounted to protests directed at building management, was not shown to have substantially threatened or jeopardized anyone's safety or otherwise disrupt the building's management or operations. Although the building site manager testified that she "felt threatened" by tenant's anger outbursts, there was no testimony that tenant directly threatened anyone's health and safety. Under these circumstances and since the one-year probationary period has now expired, a forfeiture of this long-term tenancy is unwarranted.
Moreover, the pro se tenant's largely incoherent and rambling testimony demonstrates that she failed to understand the nature and potential consequences of the hearing, or her right to be represented by counsel and to produce witnesses on her own behalf. Under these circumstances, an adjournment of the compliance hearing for the appointment of a guardian ad litem or a referral to Protective Services for Adults was warranted to safeguard tenant's rights.
This constitutes the decision and order of the court.
Decision Date: May 26, 2006