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Mortgage Foreclosure Action – Unconditional Guarantee and Waiver of Defenses Bar Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims – Lender Not Obligated to Consent to Sale of Unfurnished Condo Units and to Provide Other Consents and Assurances – Lender’s Actions Were Commercially Reasonable – Champerty This case involved a mortgage foreclosure action relating to a condo development project commenced by defendants “A” and “B.” “A” and “B” had formed an LLC (“C”) which purchased the subject building. “B” held an 88 percent interest in “C” and “A” had owned a 12 percent interest. Thereafter, “A” tendered all but 1 percent of her interest to “B” in exchange for her right to occupy a penthouse unit and in the event of a condominium conversion, the right to obtain ownership of the unit. “B” thereafter borrowed $14.3 million from “D” in connection with an unrelated investment. After “B” defaulted on its obligations to “D,” “B” pledged his majority interest in “C” as additional collateral for the loan. “C” thereafter borrowed $8.85 million from “E” and gave “E” a first priority mortgage on the subject property. “A” and “B” both guaranteed repayment of the loan. The loan guaranties were “absolute and unconditional,” i.e., “A” and “B” “absolutely, unconditionally and irrevocably” waived their rights to assert “any defense, set-off, counterclaim or cross claim of any nature whatsoever with respect [to the guaranty], except the defense of actual payment.” “B” thereafter defaulted on his loan from “D.” “C” had been actively negotiating with “E” to refinance the mortgage loan. “D” temporarily asserted his right to exercise control of “C” through his pledge agreement with “B”for a period of about 10 days. According to “A,” “D’s” exercise of control terminated the possibility of refinancing the mortgage with “E.” “D” then sued “B” to enforce the subject loan and pledge agreements. “D” then formed an LLC (“F”) and caused “F” to purchase “C’s” mortgage from “E” for a premium of 3 percent over its face value. “D” alleged that he had directed “F” to purchase the mortgage because “E” had threatened to sell it to a third party who would immediately seek foreclosure, thereby hampering his ability to recover on his investment. “A” countered that “E” sold the loan to “D” because “E” was concerned over conflicting ownership claims arising from “D’s” temporary assertion of control of “C.” “C” thereafter defaulted on its mortgage. “F” then commenced the instant foreclosure action against “C,” “A” and “B.” The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of “D,” resulting, inter alia, in a judgment against “B” and his entities. While “C” was still under the control of “A” and “B,” it had tried to refinance its mortgage loan and sell some condominium units in order to complete the project. According to “A,” “D” and “F” “actively obstructed ['C's'] efforts by refusing to give the consent or assurances necessary to secure refinancing and by refusing to consent to sales of the unfinished condominium units.” “A” argued that “D’s” goal was to “make repayment of the mortgage impossible, triggering a foreclosure action and elimination of her rights in the penthouse.” However, “D” asserted that his refusal to provide various assurances and consents represented a “commercially reasonable conduct” and that he was not obligated to consent to “allegedly below market sales of . . . units proposed by ['A' and 'B'].” “F” thereafter moved for a nontraditional foreclosure sale of “B’s” residence which had also been pledged as collateral. “B” moved to enjoin the sale, arguing that the actions of “D” and “F” made it impossible for him to secure refinancing, i.e., “D” and “F” had prevented “B” from converting the building into a condominium and selling the units. The trial court denied “B’s” motion and the Appellate Division had affirmed. The Appellate Division had found that under the “broad and unconditional terms of the guaranty signed by ['B'], he waived all defenses except actual payment, and thus, had failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success in the merits.” Meanwhile “A” and “B” filed an answer in the subject foreclosure action, asserting numerous affirmative defenses and counterclaims, including bad faith, unclean hands, champerty, the equitable doctrine of mortgage merger, waiver, estoppel, failure to mitigate damages, lack of legitimate business reasons, failure to allege assignment of the mortgage note and prevention of defendants from satisfying the mortgage, justifying cancellation of the guaranty. “F” moved for summary judgment on its foreclosure complaint and an order striking defendants’ defenses and counterclaims. The trial court had denied “F’s” motion for summary judgment, but granted its motion to strike to the extent of striking certain affirmative defenses and a counterclaim. On appeal, the Appellate Division (court) held that “F” was entitled to summary judgment and the trial court had erred in failing to find that all of the defenses asserted by “A” were barred by her guaranty and that “A’s” defenses also failed on the merits. The court believed that “A” faced an insurmountable obstacle: “the guaranty she signed . . . waived all defenses and counterclaims except ‘actual payment’ which she has never alleged.” Thus, the court found that all of “A’s” defenses and counterclaims, other than champerty, were barred under the terms of the guaranty. “A” had argued that “D’s” “refusal to consent to refinancings and sales of condominium units was a deliberate act designed to bring about ['C's'] default and resulting foreclosure.” However, the default had occurred two months after “D” had purchased the mortgage from “E” and “C” had been experiencing financial problems well before that point. Thus, the record did not support the finding that “D” had wrongfully caused “C’s” default. The court said that “D” had not engaged in wrongful conduct. The debt had already been in default and “D,” by threatening to take control of “C” and then purchasing the mortgage loan “was acting within his rights to either take control of the project pursuant to the pledge agreement or foreclose on the property to protect his collateral.” Further, there was no evidence that “D” had orally promised to approve any refinancing or condominium sales and “A” cited no provision under the pledge agreement or loan agreements that otherwise required “D” to do so. Thus, the court found that “A” had failed to show that “D’s” “conduct was anything other than legitimate business decisions to protect his substantial investment.” “D” had contended that he did not oppose refinancing, but deemed it imprudent to waive any rights, authority or claims he might have. Additionally, “D” had conditioned his consent to a refinancing upon the provision of additional information regarding the use of funds obtained in the refinancing and such information had never been provided. Based on the written agreements, the court found that “D” “was entitled to pursue foreclosure rather than refinancing.” “D” had also argued that the prices offered were below market value and even if they were not, neither “D” nor “F” were obligated to approve condominium sales at any specific price. Thus, although “D” chose to pursue foreclosure instead of attempting to salvage the “C” project, the court found that “D” was entitled to do just that. The court stated that the frustration of performance defense could not survive the “unconditional language of the guaranty.” With respect to champerty, “A” had alleged that given “D’s” awareness of “C’s” precarious condition at the time “F” purchased the “C” mortgage, “D” could not have expected repayment of the debt and therefore, must have purchased it solely to initiate a foreclosure proceeding. The court explained:
The champerty defense, which is construed narrowly by the courts . . . is available only where the purchaser or assignee obtains the claim “with the intent and for the purpose of bringing an action or proceeding thereon” . . . . The Court of Appeals has stated that this statutory language “indicates that a mere intent to bring a suit on a claim purchased does not constitute the offense; the purchase must be made for the very purpose of bringing such suit, and this implies an exclusion of any other purpose . . . .”
The court found that “D” had a legitimate business purpose for purchasing the “C” mortgage loan, i.e., “B” had already defaulted on a $14.3 million loan given by “D” and was in danger of defaulting on the “C” mortgage. Moreover, “D” claimed that “E” had threatened to sell the mortgage to a third party who might immediately pursue foreclosure, thereby threatening “D’s” ability to recover any collateral. By purchasing the mortgage, albeit at a premium price, “D” “put himself in position to determine whether foreclosure on the mortgage was the best means of recovering on his investment.” The court then explained:
New York courts have consistently held that the possibility that a purchaser of debt obligations will be required to resort to litigation to recover on the debt does not violate �489 . . . .As the Court of Appeals stated in McDivitt(88 NY at 65), such purchases are “not made illegal by the existence of the intent on [the purchaser's part at the time of the purchase, which must always exist in the case of such purchases to bring suit upon them if necessary on their collection. To constitute the offense the primary purpose of the purchase must be to enable [the purchaser] to bring suit, and the intent to bring suit must not be merely incidental and contingent.”
The court said that “D’s” purchase of the mortgage was “simply an incidental part of a substantial commercial transaction . . . and therefore not champertous.” The court emphasized that given “D’s” “obvious financial incentive in gaining control over ['C's'] refinancing options and in protecting his investment, it cannot be concluded that ['D's'] primary or exclusive motive in purchasing the mortgage was to bring suit thereon . . . .” The court found that “A’s” remaining defenses were barred by the unconditional guaranty and the loan documents and guaranties clearly established that any rights “A” had to the penthouse were subordinate to and would be extinguished by a judgment of foreclosure. Accordingly, the court concluded that plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and to strike defendant’s affirmative defenses and counterclaims should be granted. Comment: Carl F. Schwartz, chair of Herrick, Feinstein’s real estate practice, and Neil Shapiro, a partner in Herrick’s real estate department, explained that “well-drafted lender’s documents will vest the lender with broad discretion as to how to deal with loan collateral. Generally, a real estate lender should not incur liability for refusing to follow business recommendations of a real estate developer who has already defaulted on a loan. If a loan officer believes that a loan may be in trouble, he or she should even before the default actually occurs, review the lender’s procedural and substantive rights and obligations with experienced lending counsel. This is especially so since every letter, memo, discussion or decision may have significant legal consequence.” Red Tulip LLC v. Neiva , New York Law Journal, Aug. 9, 2007, p. 26, col. 1, App. Div., 1st Dept., before Andrias, J.P.; Saxe, Sullivan, Gonzalez, McGuire, JJ. Decision by Gonzalez, J. All concur. Land Use – Four Villages Have Capacity and Standing to Pursue Litigation to Stop Development of Apartment Buildings on Adjacent or Nearby Property – Town Law �264(4) – Village Law �1-102(5) – Municipal Home Rule Law – General Municipal Law – NYS Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) – Spot Zoning The appellants are four villages (villages) located within the town of Ramapo (town) and two residents of the town. They challenged the town’s enactment of a local law permitting “adult living facilities in certain residential zones adjacent to the [villages].” The town cross-moved to dismiss a combined amended petition/complaint (amended petition) in this “hybrid” Art. 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action, on the grounds, inter alia, that the villages lacked legal capacity to sue and standing. The Appellate Division (court) found that it was
within the authority granted by the Legislature to the . . . villages to sue on the claims that are made here, that Town Law �264(4) does not deprive the . . . villages of either capacity or standing to assert those claims, and that the appellants have standing to assert some, but not all, of the claims that they raise.
In 2004, the Town’s Board (board) proposed to enact a local law amending the town’s zoning code to permit the construction and operation of “adult student living facilities” in certain residential zones (Local Law). The proposed law defined an “adult student living facility” as “[h]ousing designated to be used only for adult married students, faculty, spouses and minor children while the adult student is pursuing full time post secondary education at an educational institution.” The term “adult student” was further defined to encompass “[f]ull-time married students attending a postsecondary level educational institution whether for general or religious instruction.” The Local Law purportedly addressed a finding in the town’s recently adopted “comprehensive plan that such facilities were necessary to accommodate the growing number of married students attending Orthodox Jewish religious educational institutions in the town.” Given the lot size requirements in the Local Law, it appeared that the subject use would initially involve four sites in the town. Each such site is located adjacent to or near the border of one or more of the villages and all of such sites are located within two miles of each other. Acting as lead agency pursuant to the N.Y.S. Environmental Qualify Review Act (SEQRA), the board classified the adoption of the Local Law as a Type I action under SEQRA, “presumptively requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS].” Nevertheless, the board issued a negative declaration (neg dec), finding that the Local Law “would not have a significant adverse impact on the environment” and did not require an EIS. Notwithstanding several negative comments from the County Department of Planning, the board enacted a modified version of the Local Law. Thereafter, the appellants commenced the subject litigation against the town, the board, the town planning board, the town Board of Appeals, as well as a developer and a Yeshiva that intended to own and operate adult student housing facilities (collectively the “defendants”). Following adoption of the Local Law, but prior to the commencement of the subject proceeding, the town adopted a comprehensive revision of its zoning law. The revision included the provisions permitting adult student housing facilities, with minor changes and will also be referred to herein as the Local Law. After conducting an environmental review that did not include additional study of the potential impacts resulting from the adoption of the Local Law, the board enacted the revised comprehensive zoning law. During the same period, the Yeshiva applied to the planning board for site plan approval to permit construction of adult student housing on one of the four subject sites. The planning board issued a neg dec as to the site plan, and therefore, an EIS was not required. The appellants then amended their petition to challenge the board’s adoption of the comprehensive zoning law and the planning board’s issuance of the neg dec. Appellants alleged, inter alia, that the town failed to comply with SEQRA, the Local Law is “inconsistent with the Town’s comprehensive plan and . . . constitutes impermissible spot zoning.” Additionally, appellants alleged claims under the Municipal Home Rule Law (MHRL) and General Municipal Law (GML). Appellants further alleged constitutional violations, i.e., discrimination on the basis of familial status based upon the exclusion of unmarried adult student housing from the new zoning district, in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and N.Y. Constitution Art. I, ��6, 11, and violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the extent that the Local Law is intended to benefit a particular religious community. The appellants also alleged that Local Law was not “rationally related to the health, safety, and welfare of the community” and that the planning board had failed to take the “hard look” required by SEQRA with respect to the Yeshiva’s site plan application. The town, the board, and the planning board, and the Board of Appeals had cross-moved to dismiss the amended petition, asserting that the villages lacked legal capacity to sue and that appellants collectively lacked standing. The developer and the Yeshiva cross-moved for the same relief. The trial court agreed with the defendants, granted the aforementioned cross-motions and dismissed the amended petition. On appeal, the Appellate Division explained:
“Capacity to sue is a threshold matter allied with, but conceptually distinct from, the question of standing. As a general matter, capacity ‘concerns a litigant’s power to appear and bring its grievance before the court’” . . . .Capacity to sue can be derived from an express statutory grant, as in the case of a business corporation or unincorporated association . . . ., or can be inferred, even in the absence of statutory authority, where the power to sue and be sued is a necessary incident of the party’s responsibilities . . . .Where there is no statutory authority to sue, and such authority is not necessarily implied from the entity’s other powers, however, there is no capacity, and a petition or complaint must be dismissed . . . . “Being artificial creatures of statute, [governmental] entities have neither an inherent nor a common-law right to sue. Rather, their right to sue, if it exists at all, must be derived from the relevant enabling legislation or some other concrete statutory predicate” . . . .Here, the necessary statutory predicate is provided by Village Law �1-102(5), which authorizes villages “to sue and be sued, to complain and defend and to institute, prosecute, maintain, defend and intervene in, any action or proceeding in any court.” This provision constitutes an express grant of legislative authority empowering villages to sue . . . .Thus, it is not necessary to consider whether the Villages’ capacity to sue may be inferred as a necessary incident of their municipal responsibilities.
The court rejected the defendants’ argument that “more specific” authority is required to establish the villages’ capacity to sue. Although a village is a “creature of the State and, as such, cannot sue its creator . . . , the Villages are not attempting to do so here. The rule does not bar an action by one creature of the State against another.” Moreover, the villages’ ability to sue is not limited in the same manner as that of a governmental agency since there is “enabling legislation directly empowering them to sue.” The defendants had construed Town Law �264(4) as “depriving a village of the capacity to challenge any change in a town’s zoning regulations, regardless of the manner in which the change is accomplished or the nature of the challenge.” The court concluded that although Town Law �264(4) “may be of concern in addressing . . . standing, it does not limit the capacity to sue that they enjoy by reason of Village Law �1-102(5). The court further explained that “[t]he legislative history of Town Law �264(4) evidences a clear legislative intent that zoning changes made under the Town Law be insulated from legal challenges by neighboring municipalities.” However, after reviewing the legislative history, the court said that:
there can be no real dispute that the Legislature’s intent in adopting Town Law �264(4) was to allow the adjoining municipality to have some input into its neighbor’s planning process, but to deprive it of the ability to impede, through litigation, the decisions of the enacting municipality. Consistent with this, the only authoritative construction of the statute holds that the corresponding provision of the Village Law . . . prohibits a town from commencing a declaratory judgment action to challenge, as unconstitutional, a village zoning ordinance and amendment . . . .
The court emphasized that the subject zoning change was not a product of the town’s authority under Town Law �264. Rather, the Local Law was “adopted . . . pursuant to the authority provided by the [MHRL]” and:
to hold that the Villages’ claims with respect to [the Local Law] are barred by Town Law �264(4) would thus require not merely that we enforce the statutory bar and adhere to its interpretation as established by the Court of Appeals, . . . but that we extend the effect of the statute to preclude all claims by one municipality with respect to the zoning requirements of its neighbors, without regard to the source of the authority by which that action is taken. Moreover, even if we were to conclude that the restriction imposed by Town Law �264(4) applies to judicial review of a local law adopted pursuant to the [MHRL], we would further have to hold in order to reach the result urged by the defendants, that the statute bars review of statutory claims, including claims under SEQRA, that did not exist at the time when Town Law �264(4) was adopted. We conclude that such an extension of its effect is not warranted. Moreover, the Court of Appeals has held that Town Law �264(4) does not contain an “absolute” restriction and must “yield when a contrary legislative intent is apparent.” After the Legislature adopted the language of Town Law �264(4) upon which the defendants relied, the voters approved N.Y. Constitution Art. IX, granting significant additional authority to local governments. The MHRL and the Statute of Local Governments were adopted by the Legislature to implement these new provisions. The [MHRL] provides, among other things, that a town is empowered to adopt local laws relating to its property, affairs, and government, as long as those laws are not inconsistent with the terms of the state constitution or any general law . . . .This grant includes the authority to adopt zoning changes by local law, without regard to the procedures required by the Town Law . . . .
The court said:
Considering the fact that the [MHRL] was adopted at a time when the dispute that led to the language of Town Law �264(4) here at issue was within memory, the absence of any corresponding provision restricting the standing of adjoining municipalities to challenge zoning changes adopted in that manner is a telling indicator of the Legislature’s intent that there be no such limitation.
The court believed that the argument for “refusing to extend the effect of Town Law �264(4) to claims raised under SEQRA is . . . compelling.” The court noted, inter alia, that:
SEQRA, in fact, permits just such a challenge. By defining the term “agency” to include the governing body of any political subdivision of the state . . . and the term “action” to include any project or activity “directly undertaken by any agency” . . . or “involving the issuance to a person of a . . . permit” . . . , SEQRA clearly applies to local zoning determinations . . . . SEQRA does not expressly define, however, the role of neighboring municipalities in the SEQRA review process. In addressing the broader issue of public participation in that process, the statute provides only that the draft environmental impact statement shall be “made available to the public prior to acting on the proposal which is the subject of the environmental impact statement,” leaving the particulars of notice, standing, and related issues to the regulations to be promulgated by the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation . . . .
The court found that SEQRA “contemplates that an adjoining municipality that has a concern about an action would have the same right to judicial review as any other interested party” and that the bar to judicial review of zoning changes by adjoining municipalities embodied in Town Law �264(4) does not apply to challenges under SEQRA. Thus, “the right of a municipality to challenge the acts of its neighbors must be determined on the basis of the same rules of standing that apply to litigants generally . . . .” The court then explained:
The issue presented by the doctrine of standing is whether the litigants “should be allowed access to the courts to adjudicate the merits of [the] dispute” . . . .”Generally, standing to challenge an administrative action turns on a showing that the action will have a harmful effect on the challenger and that the interest to be asserted is within the zone of interest to be protected by the statute” . . . .
The court then concluded that the villages had standing to assert claims under SEQRA and GML �239-m with respect to adoption of the Local Law and one of the villages had standing to raise the SEQRA claim with respect to the Yeshiva’s site plan application. The court found that the individual appellants had standing to assert the same claims as the villages’, as well as the claims that the Local Law was not properly enacted under the MHRL, is not consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan and is not rationally related to the health, safety and welfare of the community. However, the court held that the individuals lacked standing to challenge the Yeshiva’s site plan application and none of the appellants had standing to raise the constitutional claims. The court also found that the individual appellants had standing to alleged claims under MHRL �20, which embodied numerous procedural requirements. The court believed that the individuals were intended to be protected by such provisions and were allegedly harmed by the town’s alleged failure to comply. Additionally, the individuals had an interest in assuring that the town did not exceed its zoning authority by adopting a zoning law that was not consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan. However, the court found that the villages had no interest in the board’s compliance with either its comprehensive plan or the procedural requirements of MHRL �20. The villages had their own zoning authority with respect to property located within their geographical jurisdiction and they “are beyond the bounds of the mutuality of restriction and benefits that underlies the comprehensive plan requirement,” i.e., they at most, had a “limited stake in the integrity of the governmental decision-making process in the Town” and had only a marginal interest, if at all, in the “purposes intended to be promoted by the procedural requirements” of MHRL�20. The court then found that all appellants had standing to assert claims under GML �239-m. The statute was intended to “bring pertinent inter-community and countywide planning, zoning, site plan and subdivision considerations to the attention of neighboring municipalities and agencies having jurisdiction . . . and by so doing to facilitate regional review of land use proposals that may be of regional concern . . . .” The court then dismissed the appellants’ constitutional claims since none of the appellants had standing to raise them. Regardless of whether a municipality is or is not a person for the purpose of asserting a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the villages “must still have a personal stake in the outcome of the litigation in order to have standing to raise an equal protection or due process claim . . . .” The court found that the villages lacked such stake in the constitutional claims and also found that the individual appellants, as a married couple, “have no personal interest in the Town’s alleged discrimination against the unmarried.” Although the individuals may have a “abstract interest in whether the Town is impermissibly discriminating in favor of a particular religion, they have failed to allege any injury as a result of the alleged unconstitutional conduct, as they are required to do . . . .” The court then found that the individual appellants had standing to pursue claims under SEQRA. They lived immediately across the street from one of the subject sites and “[s]uch proximity alone permits an inference that [the individual appellants] possess the requisite interest in the dispute . . . .” However, the individual appellants did not have standing with respect to the challenge to the Yeshiva’s site application since they do not reside in close proximity to such site. Although a municipality may not suffer from traffic, or noise or poor air quality as an individual does, municipalities are permitted to assert their own claims under SEQRA. The court explained that:
A municipality’s “demonstrated interest in the potential environmental impacts of the project” can be established in several ways. “A municipality that has been identified as an involved agency, i.e., an agency with some approval authority with respect to the project . . . , for example, has standing on that basis alone . . . . Direct authority over the matter, however, is not required. Municipalities, like individual litigants, have interests to protect, including property interests.”
The court noted that the “unique nature of a municipality’s environmental interests, . . . requires that the inquiry into its environmental standing not be a mechanical one, particularly in light of the established preference that the issues presented by land use disputes be decided on the merits . . . .” In applying such principles, the court found that the villages had established a “demonstrated interest in the potential environmental impacts” of the Local Law so as to give them SEQRA standing. The appellants had alleged that the Local Law would have a “substantial detrimental effect on the roads and their community, their shared water supply and sewer systems and the character of their neighborhoods.” The court emphasized that a “municipality is more than the collection of pavement, pipes, and other improvements that make up its infrastructure. Rather, a village is a local governmental unit with broad powers, conferred not just be legislative grant, but as a matter of constitutional entitlement . . . .” The court emphasized that through their powers, municipal officials “define the character of the community for the benefit of its residents . . . .” and “[c]ommunity character is specifically protected by SEQRA.” The court said that the villages’ authority to determine and maintain the “community that its residents desire,” “in the face of the potential threat posed by the Town’s action with respect to the property along the Villages’ borders,” vests the villages with standing. The court reasoned that “[s]ubstantial development in an adjoining municipality can have a significant detrimental impact on the character of a community . . . .” The court noted that the villages asserted a claim that did not belong to the residents individually, but “to protect their unique governmental authority to define their community character” and therefore, the villages had standing to assert claims under SEQRA. However, only one village alleged an interest with respect to the Yeshiva site plan application and only such village had standing to assert such claim. The court then determined that harms alleged by the appellants were neither “speculative” nor “premature.” The court believed that the appellants became aggrieved when the Local Law was enacted and the board “committed itself to a definite course of future action, notwithstanding the fact that no site plan for the development of any particular site had by then been, or has yet to be, approved . . . .” Comment: This case is of significant interest since it provides an appellate review of important legal principles relating to the rights of individuals and governmental entities to challenge land use action by adjoining or nearby governmental entities. Matter of Village of Chestnut Ridge v. Town of Ramapo , New York Law Journal, Aug. 17, 2007, p. 38, col. 3, App. Div., 2nd Dept, by Spolzino, J.P.; Ritter, Covello and Balkin, JJ. Decision by Spolzino, J.P. All concur. Scott E. Mollen is a partner at Herrick, Feinstein and an adjunct professor at St. John’s University School of Law.

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