The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHEINDLIN
SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.:
Martin Tener ("Tener" or "Receiver"), as receiver of the subject premises located at 303-309 Tenth Avenue (the "Premises"), has moved this Court to compel Henry Kliot ("Kliot"), a subtenant and sublessor of a portion of the Premises, to turn over rents received during the period May 1992 through April 1996. For the reasons set forth below, Receiver's application for attornment is denied in its entirety.
In 1991, an action was brought to foreclose a consolidated mortgage in the principal sum of $ 3,950,000, secured by five properties, one of which is the property located at 303-309 Tenth Avenue, New York, New York. Affidavit of Martin Tener, Receiver of Rents and Profits in the Consolidated Mortgage Foreclosure Action, ("Tener Aff."), PP1-2. This property is currently owned by 303-309 10th Avenue Corp ("10th Avenue Corp."), id. at P2, one of the mortgagors in the consolidated foreclosure action.
The following brief chronology is set forth in order to better understand the lattice of leases and subleases entered into with regard to the Premises. On March 1, 1992, 303-309 10th Avenue Corp. ("10th Avenue Corp.), of which Alex Gofman ("Gofman") is President, leased the entire premises to Slamar Operating Corp. ("Slamar") at a monthly rental of $ 3,000. Affidavit of Joel S. Stern, Receiver's attorney, P8(b). On that same day, Slamar subleased the entire premises to 10th Avenue Service Center, Inc. ("10th Avenue Inc."). Id. at P8(c). Jacob Guttman ("Guttman") is President of 10th Avenue Inc. Id. According to Guttman, who testified at an evidentiary hearing, the monthly rental paid by 10th Avenue Inc. to Slamar was $ 5,000. Transcript of Hearing, October 8, 1996 ("Tr."), p.8. On April 25, 1992, 10th Avenue Inc. sublet the gas pump portion of the Premises
to Kliot at a monthly rental of $ 2,500. Tener Aff. at P8(e); Tr. at 9. One month later, on May 25, 1992, Kliot subleased the gas pump portion of the premises to 3902 Church Gas Station, Inc. ("3902 Church") at a monthly rental of $ 4,000 per month, plus $ 500 per month for electrical use. Stern Aff. at P8(j).
There appears to be some dispute regarding the rental payments relating to the sublease between 10th Avenue Inc. and Kliot. Kliot alleges that from April 1992 through December 1995 he paid all but two of the monthly rental payments directly to his sub-lessor (Guttman). Affidavit of Henry Kliot ("Kliot Aff."), PP4-5. To substantiate this claim, Kliot provided copies of a number of checks made payable to "J. Gutman" throughout the period September 1993 through November 1995. Kliot Aff., Exh. C. Guttman, however, testified that he only received two payments from Kliot, for August and September of 1992, for which he issued two receipts, and that he never received or endorsed any of the above-mentioned checks. Tr. at 8. According to Guttman, except for these two payments, Kliot paid his rent directly to Alex Gofman. Tr. at 10. Guttman further testified that he had many arguments with Kliot regarding the non-payment of rent but did not pursue legal recourse because Gofman, president of 10th Avenue Corp. (owner of the Premises), threatened him with eviction whenever he made such demands. Tr. at 10, 15.
Martin Tener qualified as Receiver of the Premises on May 6, 1992. Tener Aff. at P6. Shortly thereafter, on May 13, 1992, Tener personally served the first Notice to Attorn on various tenants demanding that all rental payments be made to him. Tr. at 22; Tener Aff., Exh. H. Regarding the Premises, Tener testified as follows:
Q: Could you describe what you did, where you went?
A: I went to the premises [303-309 10th Avenue] and there was a gentleman outside by the gas pumps. I asked him if he was running the place, and he said no, and he pointed me inside, told me to go inside, and I believe I met Mr. Guttman in there and I served him the papers.
Tr. at 23. Despite receiving this notice, Guttman testified that he never had any discussions with Kliot regarding the Receiver. Tr. at 21. Tener further testified that, in May of 1993, he served two copies of a second Notice as there were two sets of cash registers on the Premises. Tr. at 23. One notice was served upon people standing outside near the gas pumps while the second notice was served upon a person inside the repair shop. Id.
Kliot contends that he cannot be compelled to turn over the monies he collected from 3902 Church as he has not been the tenant-in-possession since May of 1992. In support of this proposition, Kliot cites a single case, Lincoln Savings Bank of Brooklyn v. Cluster Holding Corp., 18 Misc. 2d 70, 187 N.Y.S.2d 38 (Sup. Ct. Bronx Co. 1959). Tener, however, argues that Kliot was in possession at the time the first Notice to Attorn was served.
Because Kliot was the tenant-in-possession until May 25, 1992 and because the first Notice to Attorn was served on May 13, 1992, the sole issue to be decided is whether Tener served notice upon Kliot in a manner sufficient to warrant an order compelling Kliot to attorn.
In support of a strict service requirement, Kliot argues that Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs service of a Notice to Attorn. This conclusion is reached by assuming that Kliot is a "party" and that a Notice to Attorn is a "paper" in an action. Given these assumptions, service would have to be accomplished by delivering a copy to the party or by mailing a copy to the party's last known ...