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Leo Smith v. Edward Woodson and Edsheeka Woodson

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE TERM: 2nd, 11th and 13th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS


May 12, 2011

LEO SMITH, APPELLANT,
v.
EDWARD WOODSON AND EDSHEEKA WOODSON,
RESPONDENTS.

Appeal from a judgment of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County (Rudolph E. Greco, Jr., J.), entered April 9, 2009. The judgment, after a non-jury trial, dismissed the action.

Smith v Woodson

Appellate Term, Second Department Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on May 12, 2011

PRESENT: RIOS, J.P., PESCE and GOLIA, JJ

ORDERED that the judgment is reversed without costs and judgment is directed to be entered in favor of plaintiff in the principal sum of $1,040.

Plaintiff brought this small claims action against Edsheeka Woodson, his former tenant, and Edward Woodson, a co-signer of the lease agreement, to recover the sum of $1,540 for loss of June 2008 rent and for damage to property. After a non-jury trial, the Civil Court dismissed plaintiff's action. The decision of a fact-finding court should not be disturbed upon appeal unless it is obvious that the court's conclusions could not be reached under any fair interpretation of the evidence (see Claridge Gardens v Menotti, 160 AD2d 544 [1990]). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 [2000]). The determination of the trier of fact as to issues of credibility is given substantial deference, as the trial court's opportunity to observe and evaluate the testimony and demeanor of the witnesses affords it a better perspective from which to assess their credibility (see Vizzari v State of New York, 184 AD2d 564 [1992]; Kincade v Kincade, 178 AD2d 510, 511 [1991]).

The Civil Court's determination that plaintiff failed to prove that defendant Edsheeka Woodson had caused any damage to the premises is supported by the record and so will not be disturbed on appeal. However, said defendant conceded that she did not vacate the premises until June 7, 2008. "Where, as here, rent is payable on the first of the month, a month-to-month tenant who vacates during the month is ordinarily liable, absent an agreement to the contrary, for the entire month's rent" (Garfield v Howard, 2002 NY Slip Op 40422[U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2002]; see also Prime Residential Brooklyn IV, LLC v Smith, NYLJ, July 17, 2003 [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists]). Moreover, said defendant failed to either surrender the keys to plaintiff or to otherwise notify plaintiff that she had moved out. Thus, to the extent the judgment dismissed plaintiff's claim for lost rent for the month of June 2008, it did not provide the parties with substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (see CCA 1807; Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 [2000]; Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d at 126).

Accordingly, the judgment is reversed and judgment is directed to be entered awarding plaintiff the principal sum of $1,040, representing lost rent for the month of June 2008.

Rios, J.P., Pesce and Golia, JJ., concur.

Decision Date: May 12, 2011

20110512

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