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Rivera v. Incorporated Village of Farmingdale

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 19, 2013

Isidoro RIVERA, Jose Alvarado, Juan Bustillo, Noberto Alvarez, Elsa Mejia Villalobo, Brian Fredericks, Eli Chavez, Marta Villatoro, Ana Maria Mora Gomez, Plaintiffs,
v.
The INCORPORATED VILLAGE OF FARMINGDALE, Secatogue Realty, LLC, John Tosini, and Michelle Tosini, Defendants.

Page 441

Community Legal Assistance Corp. By: Stefan Hillel Krieger, Esq., Lynn Capuano, Esq., Hempstead, NY, Nixon Peabody LLP, By: Mark L. Deckman, Esq. Jericho, NY, for Plaintiffs.

Walsh Markus McDougal & Debellis, LLP By: Stephen Paul Markus, Esq., Claudio DeBellis, Esq., Garden City, NY, for Defendant, the Incorporated Village of Farmingdale.

Kaplan Belsky Ross Bartell, LLP, By: Lewis A. Bartell, Esq. Garden City, NY, for Defendants, Secatogue Realty LLC, John Tosini and Michelle Tosini.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

HURLEY, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiffs Isidoro Rivera, Jose Alvarado, Juan Bustillo, Noberto Alvarez, Elsa Mejia Villalobo, Brian Fredericks, Eli Chavez, Marta Villatoro, and Ana Maria Mora Gomez (collectively, " plaintiffs" ) originally commenced this action alleging that: (1) defendant Village of Farmingdale (the " Village" ) violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. (the " FHA" ); and (2) defendants Secatogue Realty, LLC (" Secatogue" ), John Tosini, and Michelle Tosini (collectively, " the Secatogue Defendants" ) violated the FHA, New York Executive Law § 296(6) (the " NYHRL" ), and New York Real Property Law § 235-b. On May 13, 2010, the Village and the Secatogue Defendants filed separate motions seeking summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (" Rule" ) 56. By Memorandum & Order dated March 30, 2011, 2011 WL 1260195, the Court denied the Village's motion in its entirety. (Docket No. 154.) By separate Memorandum & Order of the same date, the Court granted the Secatogue Defendants' motion and dismissed plaintiffs' claims against them in their entirety. (Docket No. 153.) [1]

Presently before the Court is plaintiffs' motion, made pursuant to Rule 15, seeking to amend the Amended Complaint to " add an Exploitation Claim, under [the FHA,] 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b)," against the Secatogue Defendants. (Not. of Mot. at 1.) For

Page 442

the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the proposed Second Amended Complaint (" 2d Am. Compl." ) and are presumed true for purposes of this motion.

The Parties

Plaintiffs are " low-income Latinos who have Latin American ancestry and/or Spanish surnames," (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 6), and are former residents of an apartment building at 150 Secatogue Avenue (the " Building" ), which is located in the Village. The Village is a municipal corporation incorporated pursuant to New York Village Law, and is located in Nassau County, New York. Secatogue is a New York limited liability company with its principal place of business in New York. Secatogue owned the Building from 1999 until July 2006. At all relevant times, John Tosini was an owner, principal, and agent of Secatogue, and Michelle Tosini was an agent for Secatogue.

The Building and Surrounding Area

The Building is located in an area of the Village bounded by Secatogue Avenue to the east, South Front Street to the north, Elizabeth Street to the west, and Conklin Street to the south. ( Id. ¶ 30.) Another residential building was located at 130 Secatogue Avenue, which was across the street from the Building. ( Id. ) As of 2004, the majority of the Building's tenants were Latino. ( Id. ¶ 34.) The area surrounding the Building had " a Latino population of 56.2%" and is the only area in the Village that " does not have a majority White population." ( Id. ¶¶ 32, 33; see also id. ¶ 80.) [2] Plaintiffs allege that " [i]n 2000, the 54 units at [the Building] represented 37% of all affordable ‘ very low income’ housing in the Village," and none of these 54 units were vacant at that time. ( Id. ¶ 123.)

Interactions Between John Tosini and the Village

Between 1999 and 2004, the Village " continuously expressed an interest in redeveloping" both the Building and its surrounding area. ( Id. ¶ 103.) In 1999, John Tosini met with representatives from the Village " to discuss the Village's interest in redeveloping" the Building. ( Id. ¶ 99.) During a second meeting with John Tosini, " the Village proposed condemning the area and selling it to [John Tosini] who would then redevelop it into a residential condominium complex and commercial area." ( Id. ¶ 100.) In April 2000, John Tosini received a " ‘ Public Notice’ and an Acquisition Map, pursuant to New York Eminent Domain Law, and a letter from the Village Clerk, which informed him that the Village planned to take title of 130 and 150 Secatogue on September 1, 2000." ( Id. ¶ 101.) Plaintiffs allege that, " [a]s a result of this threat of eminent domain," which apparently never actually came to fruition, the Secatogue Defendants " stopped making capital improvements" to the Building. ( Id. ¶ ...


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