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Chelsea 19 Associates v. Warren James – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Chelsea 19 Associates v. Warren James, 67 AD3d 601, 889 N.Y.S.2d 564 (1st Dep't 2009), the parties' so-ordered stipulation settling a nonpayment proceeding provided that upon the tenant's failure to pay certain monies by a certain date, the landlord could restore the case to the calendar for entry of a judgement and issuance of a warrant of eviction.

The tenant failed to comply with the stipulation and the landlord moved for a judgment which was granted on default.

Three months later the tenant moved to vacate the judgment and warrant, offering to tender all moneys due under the stipulation as well as rent arrears that had subsequently accrued.

While the trial court granted the requested relief, finding that "under these circumstances, a forfeiture is not favored", the Appellate Term reversed, finding that the tenant had offered neither an excuse for the default in opposing landlord's motion to enforce the stipulation nor a meritorious defense to the stipulation.

In its affirmance, the Appellate Division found that the tenant "does not show a meritorious defense to the stipulation, his loss of possession is not a forfeiture but 'merely the contracted-for consequence' of his noncompliance with the stipulation, and Civil Court lacked the discretion not to enforce the stipulation."