Fine for illegal awning upheld

1220 Liberty Avenue, Brooklyn. Image Credit: Google Maps.

Bodega owner fined $6,000 for unpermitted awning. In 2012, Krishna Tiwari installed a 4-foot by 20-foot illuminated awning on the store front of his bodega, Krishna Bazaar, located at 1220 Liberty Avenue in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Tiwari never received the required Department of Buildings permit to install this sign. In July 2018, Buildings issued a Notice of Violation to Tiwari for his unpermitted sign and imposed a fine of $6.000 which Tiwari paid. In response, Tiwari hired both a licensed sign hanger and a licensed electrician to remove his store’s awning and to obtain the required permits to place an awning sign.

On March 18, 2019, Tiwari initiated an article 78 proceeding against the City, seeking to annul the $6000 civil penalty as arbitrary and capricious and as an excessive fine. Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead ruled in favor of Buildings and upheld the fine. Tiwari appealed.

The Appellate Division, First Department, rejected Tiwari’s appeal and upheld the $6000 fine. The appellate court ruled that the $6,000 fine was remedial as opposed to punitive, and that in any event it was not “grossly disproportional to the gravity of [the] offense.”

Tiwari v. City of New York, 140 N.Y.S.3d 201 (1st Dep’t 2021).

By: Michael Falbo (Michael is a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2021.)

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