Ruiz v. GDA Realty

Creditors and Debtors Rights

New York Law Journal


Judge Ruben Franco

Plumber Ruiz sued to recover for services he rendered. GDA Realty moved for summary judgment arguing Ruiz could not recover as he did not have a master plumber's license. GDA supported its position with Second Department, Appellate Division cases holding that failure to have a plumber's license precluded recovery for plumbing work performed. Yet, the court stated the First Department held otherwise, concluding that failure to have a license did not preclude recovery. In Matter of Migdal Plumbing & Heating the court opined that neither statutory law, nor case law compelled a conclusion that a plumber, merely by the fact he was unlicensed, was barred from recovering a fee for work performed under a commercial agreement. The court noted the Administrative Code imposed civil penalties and criminal sanctions as remedies against unlicensed plumbers, but did not prevent them from enforcing contractual rights. It noted the Code provision governing licensing of plumbers in New York City did not appear to be anything other than a revenue provision, thus allowing plumbers to recover for services rendered. The modern view disfavored automatic forfeitures as sanctions for unlicensed artisan work as they were disproportionate to the wrong, denying GDA's motion.

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