Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Application of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School

Supreme Court, New York County

August 2, 2017

In the Matter of the Application of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School, Petitioner, For a Judgment Pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules
v.
New York City Department of Education, Respondent.

          For Petitioner Kody M. Haddox Esq. K & L Gates LLP

          Susan R. Briggs Esq. Cohen Schneider & O'Neill LLP

          For Respondent Todd A. Krichmar Esq. New York City Law Department

          LUCY BILLINGS, J.

         I. PRIOR ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         Petitioner Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School (BLCS) is a New York State charter middle school in Brooklyn, New York. New York Education Law § 2853(3)(e)(5)(A) requires respondent New York City Department of Education (DOE) to provide a charter school that requests co-location within a New York City public school either a site within a school at no charge or reimbursement for the charter school's "actual rental cost" incurred in renting an alternate location. Before the 2014-15 school year, BLCS submitted written requests to DOE seeking co-location for BLCS's grades 6-8, which DOE denied. In April 2015, BLCS appealed DOE's denial to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education, who found that DOE failed to comply with the Education Law's provisions regarding co-location funding and ordered DOE to pay BLCS rental assistance upon BLCS's submission of evidence of its actual rental costs to DOE.

         For BLCS to receive payments, DOE required BLCS to submit documentation of BLCS's lease. BLCS submitted its executed lease, its rental assistance calculation, and correspondence from its landlord acknowledging that the landlord agreed to a rent below the market rate in exchange for BLCS's commitment to make alterations to the leased premises and that the costs of the alterations would be considered additional rent under the lease. BLCS claims that the documentation submitted to DOE showed that BLCS's 2015 rent was $325, 000 base rent, plus $50, 000 additional rent, and its 2016 rent was $325, 000 base rent, plus $375, 000 additional rent.

         On September 2, 2015, DOE informed BLCS, via telephone, that DOE would reimburse BLCS for its base rent costs only. BLCS and its landlord amended their lease to clarify that BLCS's actual rent cost was defined as its base rent plus its expenditures on required improvement costs. On January 7, 2016, BLCS and its landlord fully executed the lease, and BLCS emailed the amended lease to DOE and requested it to recalculate the rental assistance DOE would pay to BLCS. On January 22, 2016, DOE informed BLCS that it would not change its rental assistance payments based on the amended lease and would consider only the base rent BLCS paid in making the rental assistance calculation.

         BLCS now seeks a judgment pursuant to C.P.L.R. Article 78 declaring that DOE's refusal to pay BLCS's actual rental cost according to their lease violated the Education Law and an order compelling DOE to pay BLCS's rental assistance costs based on BLCS's actual rental cost. DOE moves to dismiss the petition because it is barred by the applicable statute of limitations and because it fails to allege a claim for relief. C.P.L.R. § 3211(a)(5) and (7).

         II. RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE PETITION UNDER C.P.L.R. § 3211(a)(5)

         Petitioner was required to commence its proceeding pursuant to C.P.L.R. Article 78 within four months after DOE's refusal to calculate and pay rental assistance to BLCS based on it actual rental cost. C.P.L.R. § 217(1); LaSonde v. Seabrook, 89 A.D.3d 132, 139 (1st Dep't 2011); Moskowitz v. New York City Police Pension Fund, 82 A.D.3d 473, 473 (1st Dep't 2011); Ruskin Assoc., LLC v. State of NY Div. of Hous. & Community Renewal, 77 A.D.3d 401, 403 (1st Dep't 2010). DOE's refusal must have been explicit; any ambiguity as to whether DOE was definitively refusing the payments must be resolved against it. Flosar Realty LLC v. New York City Hous. Auth., 127 A.D.3d 147, 155 (1st Dep't 2015); Fischer v. Roche, 81 A.D.2d 541, 542 (1st Dep't 1981), aff'd, 54 N.Y.2d 962 (1981). DOE bears the burden to establish its defense based on the statute of limitations. Girozentrale v. Tilton, 149 A.D.3d 152, 158 (1st Dep't 2017); Lebedev v. Blavatnik, 144 A.D.3d 24, 28 (1st Dep't 2016); Benn v. Benn, 82 A.D.3d 548, 548 (1st Dep't 2011).

         DOE contends that it notified BLCS September 2, 2015, of DOE's final determination that DOE would use only BLCS's base rent in calculating its actual rental cost, requiring BLCS to file its petition within four months of that date. DOE's statement in its notice September 2, 2015, however, that DOE "will now be using the base rent in all calculations" does not explicitly notify BLCS that DOE was refusing to include additional rent paid by BLCS as part of BLCS's actual rental cost. V. Pet. Ex. 9. In fact, when DOE received BLCS's submission of the amended lease and request for a new rental assistance cost amount January 7, 2016, DOE did not respond that its previous determination was final, but instead promised that DOE would recalculate and provide BLCS a new amount soon. Id. Exs. 12, 15. The emails between the parties following BLCS's January 2016 submission and request highlight the ambiguity of DOE's refusal in September 2015 and illustrate that neither party considered that earlier correspondence DOE's final refusal.

         Drawing all inferences from the petition and its exhibits in BLCS's favor, DOE fails to show that its ambiguous correspondence September 2, 2015, was an explicit refusal to include BLCS's additional rent paid in BLCS's actual rental cost calculation. Therefore the four months limitations period did not begin to run September 2, 2015. Girozentrale v. Tilton, 149 A.D.3d at 158; Lebedev v. Blavatnik, 144 A.D.3d at 28; Flosar Realty LLC v. New York City Hous. Auth., 127 A.D.3d at 155; Benn v. Benn, 82 A.D.3d at 548. The four months limitations period began, at the earliest, on January 22, 2016, when DOE informed BLCS that DOE would not consider anything beyond BLCS's base rent as actual rental cost, rendering the petition timely.

         III. RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE PETITION UNDER ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.