Finally, the panel ordered a trial on whether Lucas' lease provides for attorney fees for the prevailing party, though it declined to weigh in on whether Lucas would be entitled to those fees if it does.
Robert Sokolski of Sokolski & Zekaria, who represents Lucas, said he was pleased with the decision.
"I'm delighted that they're not going to blindly accept the market rate from four years ago and reward the landlord for wrongdoing," Sokolski said. The decision, he added, "restores our faith in justice."
Sokolski said that, even if it turns out that the landlord was acting in good faith and does not have to pay treble damages or attorney fees, it was important for that issue to be heard in court, not decided on papers alone.
Oral arguments were heard on May 29.
Joel Zinberg, a solo practitioner who represents the landlord, could not be reached for comment.
Paul Gruber, a partner at Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler Nahins & Goidel, appeared as amicus curiae for Community Housing Improvement Program of New York Inc., a trade association representing more than 2,500 apartment-building owners throughout New York City.
Yesterday's decision is the latest in a series of First Department rulings answering questions left open by Roberts in tenants' favor.
In August 2011, it ruled in Gersten v. 56 7th Ave., 88 AD 3d 189, that Roberts is retroactive, just a few months after the Appellate Term reached that conclusion in Lucas' case.
This past June, it ruled in 73 Warren Street v. DHCR, 116585/09, that an apartment in a J-51 building cannot be deregulated even after the building's J-51 benefits ended as long as the same tenant stayed in the apartment, regardless of the tenant's income or rent.