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Warren A. Estis and Michael E. Feinstein

As practitioners in this area of the law are surely aware, there have in recent years been a spate of putative class action lawsuits commenced by residential tenants against their landlords, typically on behalf of both themselves and a proposed class of current and former tenants, claiming that their apartments were improperly deregulated and seeking rent overcharge damages. There are, however, certain standards that must be met in order for a court to “certify” a class under CPLR Article 9. In a recent decision of Justice Erika M. Edwards of Supreme Court, New York County in Maddicks v. Big City Prop., 2017 N.Y. Slip Op. 32385(U) (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County Nov. 16, 2017), the court, in dismissing the tenants’ putative class action, explained the standards which must be complied with and found that in the case before it, the tenants had not satisfied them.

‘Maddicks’

The facts as explained by the court in Maddicks were as follows. The plaintiffs were the tenants of apartments in 20 different buildings, each owned by different limited liability companies which were named as defendants. The class action complaint alleged that the buildings were part of a portfolio—the “Big City Portfolio”—managed by the same company. The complaint requested both declaratory and injunctive relief claiming that the subject apartments were improperly deregulated, and also sought damages for alleged rent overcharges. The proposed class included the current and former tenants of the 20 buildings owned by the various defendants.

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