Engineer barred for two years

Licensed engineer certified altered photos and submitted misleading application to Buildings. Buildings filed charges against engineer Leon St. Clair Nation after discovering he had certified the accuracy of altered photographs and submitted a false application to alter the second floor of a building which did not have a second floor. Buildings specifically charged St. Clair Nation with violating the City’s rules by knowingly or negligently submitting false or misleading documents.

After a hearing at OATH, the Buildings Commissioner ordered the revocation of St. Clair Nation’s self-certification privileges. The Commissioner also prohibited St. Clair Nation from filing any application or document with Buildings for two years. St. Clair Nation filed an article 78 petition, claiming that the Commissioner lacked the authority to impose the two-year suspension because the construction code provision relied on by Buildings had been enacted after he had engaged in the acts charged against him.

The First Department upheld Buildings’ decision to revoke St. Clair Nation’s self-certification privileges but also ruled that the two-year suspension could not stand because the construction code provision did not take effect until after St. Clair Nation had committed the acts. 6 CityLand 63 (May 15, 2009).

The Court of Appeals reversed the First Department, ruling that the Commissioner could rely on the construction code provision as a basis for the suspension. Although St. Clair Nation’s actions occurred prior to the effective date of the code provision, applying the provision in this instance would not be considered a retroactive application, because the code provision aimed to regulate future professional eligibility and not past conduct.

St. Clair Nation v. City of New York, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 03471 (N.Y. Apr. 29, 2010). (Attorneys: Gregory Chillino, for St. Clair Nation; Cheryl Payer, for NYC).

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