The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marrero, District Judge.
On November 26, 2001 defendants filed a motion to dismiss
plaintiffs' complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). On December 20, 2001, plaintiffs filed an
opposition to the motion and a cross-motion for a stay on
January 7, 2002, defendants filed a reply. On April 26, 2002,
the Court heard oral argument on the matter. For the reasons set
forth in the statement made by the Court on the record at the
April 26, 2002 Hearing, a copy of which is attached hereto and
incorporated herein, the Court grants
defendants' motion and denies plaintiffs' cross-motion.
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendants' motion to dismiss, pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiffs' cross-motion for a stay of
defendants' collection of rents from the premises at issue in
this case is DENIED.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case.
Statement of the Court Regarding Defendant's Motion to
Plaintiffs Michael Blanchard and Lew Markus, appearing pro
se in this matter, filed this action invoking the Court's
diversity jurisdiction. They allege that defendants engaged in
tortious interference with certain five-year leases plaintiffs
claim they entered into with the St. Stephens Bible College
Realty Management Corp. ("St.Stephens") related to twelve
apartment units in the premises located at 357 West 116th
Street, New York, New York (the "Premises"). Defendant Sherri L.
Eisenpress ("Eisenpress") is a member of the law firm of
Shatzkin, Reiss & Eisenpress, which is also named as a defendant
in this action. Eisenpress was appointed to be the temporary
receiver of the Premises by Court Order in a foreclosure action
brought in May, 2000 by the mortgagee, Chase Manhattan Mortgage
Corporation, in new York State Supreme Court, New York County.
Defendants Ray Clive and Clive Corporation are the management
agents hired by Eisenpress to provide maintenance and collect
rents from tenants of the Premises.
In carrying out her functions as receiver, Eisenpress served
the tenants of the Premises with a Notice to Attorn, a copy of
which was attached to the Complaint and therefore properly
considered by this Court on a motion to dismiss. The notice
directed the tenants to pay their rent to Eisenpress as
receiver, through Clive, her agent. Plaintiffs claim that in so
acting, Eisenpress and Clive failed to recognize plaintiffs'
leasehold rights to the Premises and thereby induced the
subtenants to breach their agreements to pay rent to
Defendants move pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for
dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. Plaintiffs cross-moved for an order
staying Eisenpress and Clive from collecting rents from or
otherwise contacting tenants of the Premises. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court grants the defendants' motion.
First, the Court finds that the plaintiffs' pleadings, are
insufficient to set forth each of the material elements of a
tortious interference action under New York law. Nor does the
complaint suggest any other cognizable legal theory upon which
the pleadings state a viable cause of action against Eisenpress
A claim for tortious interference with contractual relations
under New York law requires factual allegations sufficient to
establish: (1) the existence of a valid contract between
plaintiff and a third party; (2) defendant's knowledge of that
contract; (3) defendants's intentionally procuring a breach of
the contract; and (4) damages suffered by plaintiff. See Foster
v. Churchill, 87 N.Y.2d 744, 642 N.Y.S.2d 583, 665 N.E.2d 153,
St. Stephens is listed as a party given notice of the pendency
of that foreclosure action. By the state court's Order
Appointing Temporary Receiver in Foreclosure Action entered on
April 23, 2001 and also listing St. Stephens as a defendant, all
named and other interested parties were "enjoined and restrained
from collecting the rents of [the Premises] and from interfering
in any manner with the property or its possession." Chase
Manhattan Bank Corp. v. St. Stephens, Index No. 00111756,
(Sup.Ct., N.Y. County, ...