Jaspan Schlesinger Defeats Summary Judgment In Dispute Over Historic Brooklyn Property
Date: October 10th, 2013
Location: Garden City, New York

Waterview Towers, Inc. v. 2610 Cropsey Development Corp., et al. (Kings County Index No. 11719/2007), involves a dispute over real property in the historic Town of Gravesend in Brooklyn.

The Plaintiff, a residential cooperative housing corporation, claims ownership over a strip of neighboring property that it alleges to have used since the 1970s as parking for its residents. Defendant, represented by Jaspan Schlesinger LLP, is the title owner of certain properties that also abut this strip of land. Defendant claims title ownership over this property, which it contends is a “mapped street” named Centre Place, by virtue of an unbroken chain of title dating back to the original 1857 subdivision of this now urbanized land.

The action was commenced in Kings County by the Plaintiff pursuant to N.Y. Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Article 15 to compel a determination of the competing claims to this property. The Plaintiff claimed that its use of the strip for parking satisfies the elements of adverse possession and that its alleged continued use as such vests ownership in the co-op. Defendant countered by claiming that title to the bed of the disputed land can be traced, in an unbroken chain, to the 1800s and that, in any event, the law of adverse possession is inapplicable to mapped streets. At a minimum, Defendants claimed, they are entitled to indefeasible easement rights to the use and enjoyment of this strip insofar as their plots abut this street.

At the inception of the case in 2008, a preliminary injunction was issued enjoining the Defendants from developing their land and/or interfering with the Plaintiff’s use of Centre Place during the pendency of the action. However, the statutorily-required bond for such equitable relief was never imposed.

Following discovery, the Plaintiff moved for summary judgment on its adverse possession claim. Linda S. Agnew, Esq. and Anthony Bagnuola, Esq. of Jaspan Schlesinger successfully represented Defendant in opposing the motion and cross-moving for the nunc pro tunc imposition of a bond.

In a recent opinion, Supreme Court (Bunyan, J.) denied summary judgment to the Plaintiff, acknowledging that genuine issues of material fact exist as to,among other things, whether the ancient land known as Centre Place is a mapped street capable of being adversely possessed. Additionally, Justice Bunyan imposed a retroactive bond in the amount of $1 million, to be posted in connection with the Plaintiff’s preliminary injunction within weeks of the decision.

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