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178 EAST 80TH STREET OWNERS v. JENKINS

August 21, 2003

178 EAST 80TH STREET OWNERS, INC., PLAINTIFF, — AGAINST — LINDSAY JENKINS, DEFENDANT; LINDSAY JENKIN, PLAINTIFF, — AGAINST — PETER DOWBYSZ, DEFENDANT; LINDSAY JENKINS, PLAINTIFF, — AGAINST — MARIA BELTRANI, ET AL. DEFENDANTS


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Casey, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court is a motion to recuse Magistrate Judge Maas in a matter arising out of a Stipulation of Settlement and Order entered into by the parties and ordered by this Court on April 9, 2001. In August 2002, Defendants brought suit to enforce the settlement agreement, which this Court referred to Judge Maas, based on the terms of the settlement agreement. [ Page 2]

Plaintiff, Lindsay Jenkins, now moves the Court to: 1) vacate this Court's Order of Reference to Judge Maas; 2) recuse Judge Maas; and 3) compel Judge Maas to order 178 East 80th Street Owners, Inc. (the "Co-op") to permit the sale of her apartment in the building. For the following reasons, Ms. Jenkins' motions are DENIED in their entirety.

I. Background

The original dispute between the parties arose from Lindsay Jenkins' boarding of an unauthorized guest in her apartment. On July 28, 2000, the Co-op brought suit against Ms. Jenkins in the Supreme Court of the State of New York for various alleged violations of her proprietary leases for two apartments located at 178 80th Street, New York, New York. Based on her British citizenship, Ms. Jenkins removed the action to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. On April 6, 2001, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement and Order ("Stipulation"), which dismissed the complaint and provided that Ms. Jenkins be permitted to have one overnight guests, provided that she was contemporaneously, physically there, and that their stay did not exceed two weeks over a six-month period. The parties also agreed that Magistrate Judge Maas would retain jurisdiction over any matters relating to enforcement of the Stipulation. The Stipulation was ordered by this Court on April 9, 2001.

In August 2002, Defendants brought suit against Ms. Jenkins for violation of the Stipulation. This Court referred the matter to Judge Maas, in accordance with the Stipulation. Ms. Jenkins thereafter filed three motions with this Court: 1) motion to vacate the Order of Reference to Judge Maas; 2) motion to recuse Judge Maas; and 3) motion to compel Judge Maas to order the Co-op to permit the sale of her apartment.

II. Discussion

A. Motion to Vacate Order of Reference to Judge Maas [ Page 3]

Plaintiff argues that this Court should vacate the Order of Reference to Judge Maas, based on a lack of jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), a magistrate judge may conduct any proceedings upon the consent of the parties. A district court judge may vacate an order of reference upon request from any party only upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(4).

Here, the parties have agreed that Judge Maas would conduct all proceedings relating to the enforcement of the Stipulation, and Ms. Jenkins has failed to show the existence of extraordinary circumstances. Therefore, her claim that Judge Maas lacks authority with respect to the present dispute is without merit.

Ms. Jenkins also claims that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the current dispute because it is based on a state law claim. A district court may exercise jurisdiction to enforce settlement agreements even though the underlying subject matter may not be within the subject matter jurisdiction of the court. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 381 (1994). In Kokkonen, the Supreme Court held that a federal district court did not have ancillary jurisdiction over action to enforce a settlement agreement where the terms of the settlement were not included in the stipulation of dismissal. See id. The Court noted, however, that such jurisdiction would exist where, as here, the terms of the settlement agreement were incorporated into the order of dismissal. See id. Although landlord tenant disputes are typically resolved in state court, the terms of the settlement agreement were incorporated into the original order of dismissal, signed by this Court on April 9, 2001. Thus, this Court has ancillary jurisdiction over any actions to enforce those terms.

B. Motion to Recuse Judge Maas

On October 16, 2001, Ms. Jenkins filed a"Verified Supplement" to a Motion to Recuse [ Page 4]

Magistrate Judge Maas, which she had originally filed on July 23, 2003, and which had been denied by ...


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