Justice Shlomo Hagler

Tenant law firm moved for an order removing a non-payment proceeding in civil court by landlord against the firm, and joining it with this action for trial, as well as staying the non-payment proceeding pending a decision on this motion. Landlord moved for imposition of sanctions and attorney fees. The firm challenged the validity of a late fees provision and calculation of electricity charges in the non-payment proceeding. The court granted landlord’s motion and dismissed the firm’s defenses and counterclaims. The firm argued the late fees provision was unlawful and an inappropriate penalty. The court ruled the provision was negotiated by sophisticated parties and their counsel, finding the firm failed to submit evidence the provision was unreasonable or against public policy, entitling landlord to summary judgment declaring the provision enforceable. Also, as the parties do not have a fiduciary relationship, landlord owed no duty to the firm, and it was not entitled to an accounting. Yet the court stated as there was a colorable legal basis for the motions, landlord’s motion for imposition of sanctions was unwarranted and denied. Thus, the firm’s motion to join the civil court action or stay proceedings was denied as moot.