Hillside Place, LLC v Naseer
Decided on February 19, 2010
SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE TERM: 2nd, 11th and 13th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS
PRESENT: : RIOS, J.P., PESCE and STEINHARDT, JJ
2009-545 Q C.
Hillside Place, LLC, Appellant,
Mubasher Naseer, Respondent.
Appeal from a judgment of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County (Anna
Culley, J.), entered September 2, 2008. The judgment, after a nonjury trial, dismissed the action.
ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed without costs.
Plaintiff brought this small claims action seeking $5,000 for unpaid rent. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had moved out during the middle of a lease term, and owed money for the final two months that defendant had lived in the premises without paying rent, and for the following two months during which the apartment was not rented. After a nonjury trial, the Civil Court dismissed the action, finding that an agent of plaintiff had agreed to allow defendant to move out during the term of his lease and to release him from any further obligations under that lease, and that defendant's security deposit was properly applied to pay the rent for the final two months that defendant had lived in the premises.
The decision of a fact-finding court should not be disturbed upon appeal unless it is obvious that the court's conclusions could not be reached under any fair interpretation of the evidence (see e.g. Claridge Gardens v Menotti, 160 AD2d 544 ). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see e.g. Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 ). Furthermore, the determination of the trier of fact as to issues of credibility is given substantial deference as the court has the opportunity to observe and evaluate the testimony and demeanor of the witnesses, thereby affording the trial court a better perspective from which to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses (see e.g. Vizzari v State of New York, 184 AD2d 564 ; Kincade v Kincade, 178 AD2d 510, 511 ).
The Civil Court's findings and conclusions are supported by the record, including defendant's testimony and documentary evidence showing that a representative of plaintiff had agreed to release defendant from any further obligations under the lease. Plaintiff argues that the written release was merely an acknowledgment of receipt of a notice by defendant of defendant's intent to vacate the apartment. Plaintiff's argument lacks credibility, as there is writing on the document indicating that it was a release, and because plaintiff would not have had any need to acknowledge the notice had plaintiff not intended to allow defendant to break his lease.
Plaintiff's further arguments on appeal are either irrelevant to this disposition or are improperly raised for the first time on appeal.
Accordingly, we find that the judgment provided the parties with substantial justice [*2]according to the rules and principles of substantive law (CCA 1807; Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 ; Williams, 269 AD2d at 126), and the judgment is affirmed.
Rios, J.P., Pesce and Steinhardt, JJ., concur.
Decision Date: February 19, 2010