Injunction against DOB reversed

Staten Island civil court judge issued injunction against Buildings over C of O’s. In 2005, Judge Philip S. Straniere addressed a recurring issue in Staten Island where developers were failing to obtain final certificates of occupancy for new homeowners who, upon expiration of the temporary certificates, were unable to legalize their occupancy. Some of these homeowners, who had been cited by Buildings and ECB, sued the developers to compel them to obtain final certificates and sued Buildings to stop citing the property. In one decision, Judge Straniere ordered Buildings, not a party in the case, to appear before the court to address the recurring problem of developers who failed to obtain final certificates. Judge Straniere also ordered Buildings to compel developers to obtain final certificates and stop issuing violations against homeowners who had availed themselves of the courts. 2 CityLand 125 (Sept. 15, 2005).

Buildings appealed Judge Straniere’s decisions. The appellate term reversed, ruling that Judge Straniere lacked subject matter jurisdiction to order Buildings to appear in court when it was not a named party or to grant the proposed relief to the homeowners. The appellate term found that the civil court’s injunctive and restraining authority was limited to the enforcement of housing standards. The civil court act did not give the civil court jurisdiction to stop enforcement actions by a City agency.

Minchew v. Buildings, 2006 NY Slip Op 51436U, July 18, 2006 (2nd Dep’t); Washington v. Culotta, 2006 NY Slip Op 26295, July 18, 2006 (2nd Dep’t).

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