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40 West 67th Street Corp. v. Pullman

Court of Appeals of New York
790 N.E.2d 1174 (2003)


Facts

In 1998, Pullman (defendant) purchased 80 shares in a cooperative apartment building governed by the cooperative board (plaintiff), and moved into one of the apartments pursuant to a lease agreement. Shortly after moving in, Pullman began engaging in conduct that was disruptive to the building community, including a steady stream of baseless complaints regarding his upstairs neighbors, a retired elderly couple. Eventually this caused a physical encounter between Pullman and the elderly couple, and Pullman began distributing flyers around the building publicly making false and derogatory statements about the couple. Pullman also made unauthorized alterations to his apartment, and refused to respond to the Board’s requests to remedy the situation or to permit inspection. Pullman also initiated four lawsuits against his neighbors and tried to initiate three more. In accordance with the provisions of the lease agreement, the Board held a special meeting (which Pullman did not attend, although he had notice) and voted to eject him from the building on grounds that his conduct was “undesirable,” as set forth in the lease agreement. Pullman ignored the subsequent notice to vacate, and the Board filed a suit seeking among other things, possession, ejectment, and cancellation of Pullman’s stock in the cooperative. The trial court held that an eviction, even by a cooperative board, must comply with the statute which requires that the landlord prove objectionable conduct by competent evidence in court. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that Levandusky v. One Fifth Ave. Corp, 75 NY 2d 530 (1990) precluded judicial review of a cooperative’s decision to evict if it acted in good faith in furtherance of its legitimate corporate purposes. Pullman appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Rosenblatt, J.)

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