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Grand Concourse Estates Llc v. Lithgow - 2018 NYLJ LEXIS 1763

Rule:

A stipulation may be vacated based upon ignorance, fraud, mistake, misrepresentation, nonrepresentation, unconscionability or duress. 

Facts:

Respondent sought rent reduction contending that the conditions in his home were horrendous including but not limited to failure to provide gas service extensive periods of time. The court ordered a rent reduction order to the level in effect prior to the most recent guidelines increase for the tenant's lease. The matter was settled by stipulation on January 30, 2017. Respondent signed the stipulation of January 30, 2017 and subsequent stipulations without the benefit of counsel. The landlord then filed a case for nonpayment of rent for a rent stabilized apartment and respondent moved to dismiss the case for failure to serve the predicate notices and Notice of Petition and Petition or, in the alternative, to vacate all stipulations between the parties. She claimed that she was only made aware of the proceeding by receiving a post card from the court. The petitioner provided an affidavit of service of the Notice of Petition and Petition alleging service by conspicuous place and mail service. 

Issue:

Should respondent's motion be granted?

Answer:

Yes, as to the motion to vacate the stipulations and admit the late answer.

Conclusion:

Respondent's motion to vacate the stipulations and their associated judgments was granted; the motion to dismiss due to failure to serve the predicate notices, Notice of Petition and Petition was denied. The court held that while stipulations are to be binding, this rule is not absolute. A stipulation may be vacated based upon ignorance, fraud, mistake, misrepresentation, nonrepresentation, unconscionability or duress. In the case at bar, the fact that the tenant was unrepresented and did not address the issues of the rent reduction order, the lack of any repairs and potential abatement compel vacating the stipulation.

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