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Kayla Orisma and Jean Orisma, Respondents v. Mervi Stack

New York Supreme and/or Appellate Courts SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE TERM, SECOND DEPARTMENT, 9th and 10th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS


April 4, 2013

KAYLA ORISMA AND JEAN ORISMA, RESPONDENTS, --
v.
MERVI STACK, APPELLANT.

Appeal from a judgment of the City Court of Port Jervis, Orange County (Victoria B. Campbell, J.), entered December 21, 2011.

Orisma v Stack

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This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.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 April 4, 2013

PRESENT: IANNACCI, J.P., MARANO and TOLBERT, JJ

The judgment, after a non-jury trial, awarded plaintiffs the principal sum of $1,449.75 and implicitly dismissed defendant's counterclaim.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiffs, defendant's former tenants, commenced this small claims action to recover the sum of $2,000 for, among other things, the return of the rent they had paid for the month of September 2011 and their purchase of heating oil. Defendant interposed a counterclaim to recover the sum of $3,000 for alleged damage to the premises. Defendant appeals from a judgment which, following a non-jury trial, awarded plaintiffs the principal sum of $1,449.75 and implicitly dismissed defendant's counterclaim.

Appellate review of a small claims judgment is limited to determining whether substantial justice has been done between the parties according to the rules and principles of substantive law (UCCA 1807; Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 [2000]; Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 [2000]). 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]). Furthermore, the determination of a trier of fact as to issues of credibility is given substantial deference, as a trial court's opportunity to observe and evaluate the testimony and demeanor of the witnesses affords it a better perspective from which to evaluate their credibility (see Vizzari v State of New York, 184 AD2d 564 [1992]). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d at 126).

The evidence adduced at trial supports the determination of the City Court that the premises had been rendered uninhabitable on September 8, 2011 as a result of flooding caused by a tropical storm that followed Hurricane Irene, and that, pursuant to Real Property Law § 235-b, plaintiffs were entitled to an abatement of rent for 22 days in September 2011. The record also supports the City Court's finding that plaintiffs demonstrated that they were entitled to reimbursement for their purchase of heating oil for the premises and the City Court's implicit determination not to credit defendant's testimony with respect to the counterclaim. Consequently, we find no basis to disturb the judgment.

Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

Iannacci, J.P., Marano and Tolbert, JJ., concur. Decision Date: April 04, 2013

20130404

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