Tenant Wins Legal Fees Against Landlord in Panel Ruling
"The result reached by the majority enables tenant to recover attorneys' fees by virtue of a determination in his favor," DeGrasse wrote. "At the same time, there can be no doubt that the language of the lease would not have provided for a similar recovery by landlord if it had prevailed."
"Today's ruling makes for the mutuality of a 'heads, I win; tails, you still don't win' coin toss," he added.
DeGrasse said that Bunny Realty should simply have been overturned.
Bierman, Taylor's attorney, said that the decision reestablished the clear precedent of Bunny Realty after recent decisions appeared to drift away from it.
"I think the decision effectuates the legislative intent of Real Property Law §234," he said.
Similar lease language "comes up fairly often," Bierman added, and the ruling will discourage retaliatory litigation by landlords in the future.
The landlord is represented by Nativ Winiarsky and Patrick Munson, partners at Kucker & Bruh. Munson said he was disappointed by the ruling but that his client had not decided on an appeal.