Housing Discrimination Claim Dismissal Affirmed; Anti-French Motivation Not Shown

In Farkas v. River House Realty Co., Inc., 2019 NY Slip Op 04322 (App. Div. 1st Dept. June 4, 2019), the First Department affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s lawsuit alleging, inter alia, violation of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws and tortious interference with contract.

The court summarized the allegations as follows:

Plaintiff owned a cooperative apartment (the Apartment) in the building owned by defendant River House. Plaintiff entered into a contract to sell the Apartment to the French Republic, for use as the official residence of its ambassador to the United Nations. Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated the anti-housing discrimination provisions of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws (State and City HRLs), or aided and abetted the violation of those statutes, by imposing uniquely onerous conditions on approval of the sale (see Executive Law § 296[5][a][2]; Administrative Code of City of NY § 8-107[5][a][1][b]).

Applying the law, the court held that plaintiff “failed to state a claim under any of these statutes …, as she has failed to plead any concrete factual allegations in support of her claim that defendants were motivated to frustrate the sale by anti-French bias[.]”

The court applied this reasoning to plaintiff’s claims under the Civil Rights Laws:

This defect is likewise fatal to plaintiff’s claims under Civil Rights Law (CRL) § 19-a. Plaintiff has further failed to plead that River House is a “publicly assisted housing accommodation” (CRL § 18-b[3][e]), a necessary element of a claim brought under CRL article 2-a (see CRL § 18-e; Sisters of Resurrection, N.Y. v Country Horizons, 257 AD2d 729, 731 [3d Dept 1999]; Bachman v State Div. of Human Rights, 104 AD2d 111, 111, 114 [1st Dept 1984]).

Finally, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s tortious interference claim:

Plaintiff has failed to plead that there was an actual breach of her contract with the French Republic, an indispensable element of a claim for tortious interference with contract (see NBT Bancorp v Fleet/Norstar Fin. Group, 87 NY2d 614, 620-621 [1996]; Alavian v Zane, 101 AD3d 475, 476 [1st Dept 2012], lv denied 21 NY3d 862 [2013]). Moreover, even according plaintiff the benefit of every favorable inference on this motion to dismiss on the pleadings, the record indicates that defendant Kabler, against whom plaintiff levels her tortious interference claim, had “justification” for opposing the sale (see White Plains Coat & Apron Co., Inc. v Cintas Corp., 8 NY3d 422, 426 [2007]).

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