1504 Associates v. Wescott
Tenant Wescott appealed from a Civil Court decision which awarded landlord 1504 Associates possession in a holdover summary proceeding. 1504 cross-appealed from the underlying decision which determined that Wescott's alleged status as an illegal alien did not preclude her from asserting a succession claim in defense of the holdover petition. The court previously permitted Wescott to testify as to her conversations and interactions with the tenant of record, her deceased husband, before and during an excused "temporary relocation" from the premises. Yet, the panel found despite permitting such testimony, the court "unexplainedly departed from that evidentiary ruling in its posttrial written decision" and refused to consider the testimony claiming it violated the Dead Man's Statute. Thus, the court rejected Wescott's succession defense. The panel reversed such decision based on the evidentiary and procedural missteps disclosed in the record, and ordered a new trial. Also, it stated considerations of citizenship and immigration status were not among the criteria for family member succession enumerated in the governing rent control regulations. Hence, adoption of the preclusion rule advocated by 1504 would run afoul of the New York City Human Rights law.