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Kanayama v. Kesy LLC

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 30, 2015

MASAHIDE KANAYAMA, and WEBER 1005, LLC, Plaintiffs,

HOROWITZ SIGMOND LLP, Carol A. Sigmond, for Plaintiffs Masahide Kanayama and Weber 1005, LLC.

PILLINGER MILLER TARALLO, LLP, Laurence G. McDonnell, for Defendant Provence Wellness Center LLC.


JOHN F. KEENAN, District Judge.

Before the Court are Plaintiffs' motions to remand this action to New York County Supreme Court and for a finding of contempt against Defendant Provence Wellness Center for violating the state court's April 4, 2014 preliminary injunction. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' motion to remand is denied in part and granted in part. Since the Court remands the state law causes of action that underpin the preliminary injunction, the motion for contempt will have to be addressed by the state court upon remand.

I. Background

A. Facts

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are drawn from the amended state court complaint. Plaintiff Masahide Kanayama is a licensed physician and citizen of New York. He is also the managing member of Plaintiff Weber 1005, LLC ("Weber 1005"), which owns the fifth floor - where Kanayama conducts his medical practice - in the Weber House Condominium at 150 East 55th Street in Manhattan. Weber 1005 is a New York limited liability company with a principal place of business in New York.

Defendant Board of Managers of the Weber House Condominium ("the Weber House Board") formed and exists under New York's Real Property Law article 9-B. It operates the Weber House Condominium. Defendants KESY LLC ("KESY") and Provence Wellness Center LLC ("Provence Wellness") are New York limited liability companies with their principal places of business in New York. KESY and Provence Wellness allegedly share a common owner, and KESY owns the sixth floor of the Weber House Condominium, where Provence Wellness operates a spa providing high colonic therapies directly above Kanayama's medical office.

Plaintiffs allege that in 2007 they sought and were granted permission by the Weber House Board to install three handwashing sinks in Kanayama's office, but only after he agreed to install waterproof floors and a leak alarm. That same year, the Weber House Board denied Plaintiffs' request to install a waste line to serve Kanayama's office through the ceiling of the fourth floor (i.e., the floor below his office). Instead, Plaintiffs installed an interior water pump and waste line fully contained within the fifth floor.

In 2009, despite Kanayama's objections, the floor above him was rezoned as a "Physical Culture Establishment" so that Provence Wellness could operate a spa. Again over his objections, the Weber House Board allowed Provence Wellness to install wet facilities such as a shower, washing machine, and toilets over his office. Plaintiffs allege that although these installations were supposedly conditioned on the installation and use of waterproof floors and a leak alarm, the Weber House Board never confirmed or inspected the installations, floors, or alarms, which are all either nonexistent or deficient.

At some unspecified time, KESY and Provence Wellness installed a waste line through Plaintiffs' ceiling, over Plaintiffs' objections. Plaintiffs allege that this was accomplished by persons entering their floor without permission to complete the installation. Despite repeated demands to remove the waste lines, they remain on Plaintiffs' floor. In the three years prior to the filing of the complaint, Plaintiffs allege that their office has been flooded from above thirteen times, causing water damage to the office, including the presence of mold. Plaintiffs allege that, despite repeated requests, Defendants have not taken reasonable steps to prevent these leaks.

B. Procedural History

On March 17, 2014, Kanayama filed his complaint in New York County Supreme Court. He asserted six causes of action: (1) trespass of KESY and Provence Wellness's waste line; (2) trespass by the leaks emanating from KESY and Provence Wellness's floor; (3) nuisance by the repeated leaks emanating from KESY and Provence Wellness's floor; (4) damages for destruction of property caused by the repeated leaks; (5) breach of fiduciary duty by the Weber House Board for allowing the leaks to continue unabated and causing a constructive eviction; and (6) racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 because Plaintiffs alleged that the Weber House Board has treated them disparately from KESY and Province Wellness based on race.

Since the overlap of the state and federal claims determines whether a court has supplemental jurisdiction, and because the state claims are rather straightforward, the Court will set out Plaintiffs' lone federal claim in more detail. Plaintiffs allege that they were the victim of racial bias because the Weber House Board (a) required Plaintiffs to install waterproof floors and alarms, but did not require KESY and Provence Wellness to prove it installed them; (b) violated its own policies when it assisted KESY and Provence in planning the trespass of the waste-line pipe; (c) exceeded its authority when it consented to the rezoning of the sixth floor to allow Provence Wellness to open a spa; and (d) has failed to take steps to ameliorate the flooding from the sixth floor. Plaintiffs believe this is because Kanayama is of Japanese descent and the owner of KESY and Provence Wellness is white. (Sigmond Aff. ¶ 6 n.1.) Plaintiffs claim that the above demonstrates that the Weber House Board does not enforce and apply its Declaration and By-Laws in a nondiscriminatory manner.

Kanayama served Defendants on March 19, 2014.[1] On April 4, 2014, the state court granted a preliminary injunction, ordering Defendant "by any reasonable means at their disposal, to stop liquid from leaking from their sixth floor premises into plaintiff's fifth floor office in the subject building." (McDonnell Aff. Ex. A.) Kanayama then filed an amended complaint on April 8, 2014, adding Weber 1005, LLC as a plaintiff. Weber 1005 joined Kanayama in asserting the same six ...

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