United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. Pollak, United States Magistrate Judge.
11, 2017, Carmen Torres (“plaintiff”), through
counsel, commenced this action against Gutman, Mintz, Baker
& Sonnenfeldt LLP (“GMBS”), Edguardo L.
Baldinucci, Kathleen E. Nolan, Yevgeniya Musheyeva, and Buddy
Equities LLC (collectively, “defendants”) seeking
damages, attorney's fees and costs, and injunctive and
declaratory relief, pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”) 15 U.S.C. § 1692,
et seq., New York General Business Law
(“GBL”) § 349 et seq., and New York
Judiciary Law (“NYJL”) § 487.
before the Court is plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court grants plaintiff's motion.
approximately 2004, plaintiff leased a rent-stabilized
apartment in a building owned and operated by defendant Buddy
Equities LLC. (Compl. ¶ 17). Due to plaintiff's severe
disability and limited income, the entirety of
plaintiff's rent is paid by the Department of Social
Services (“DSS”), a branch of the New York City
Human Resources Administration (“HRA”).
(Id. ¶ 18).
2014 and again in August 2016, plaintiff signed two-year rent
stabilized lease agreements with defendant Buddy Equities LLC
that required her to pay monthly rent in the amount of $1,
714.40. (Id. ¶ 22). Under its standard
practice, HRA would make two monthly rental payments on
plaintiff's behalf. Such payments took the form of an
“A check, ” typically sent on the first week of
the month, and a “B check, ” typically sent on
the third week of each month. Each check consisted of half of
her total monthly rent. (Id. ¶ 19).
2015 and 2016, defendant Buddy Equities, through its counsel,
GMBS, initiated three eviction proceedings against plaintiff.
(Id. ¶ 24). In each case, plaintiff alleges
that Buddy Equities, GMBS, and its attorneys, unlawfully
mischaracterized the debt owed by plaintiff or HRA.
The First State Court Proceeding
8, 2015, Defendants initiated a non-payment eviction
proceeding against plaintiff in the Kings' County Housing
Court in which defendants falsely represented that plaintiff
had paid none of the $1, 714.40 due in monthly rent
from December 2014 through June 2015. (Id. ¶
27). In total, defendants alleged that plaintiff owed $11,
915.20, plus attorneys' fees. (Id.) Rebutting
defendants' claims, plaintiff's attorney provided the
Housing Court with HRA records showing that DSS had paid $1,
591.10 for every month that Defendant had alleged
complete non-payment. Of the $11, 915.20 defendants
demanded, $10, 682.20 had already been paid. (Id.
¶ 31). Despite the clear evidence, defendant continued
litigating the matter for another five months. (Id.
The Second State Court Proceeding
26, 2016, defendants initiated a second nonpayment eviction
proceeding against plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 34). They
alleged that plaintiff failed to pay the full $1, 714.40 due
for the months of June and July 2016, and demanded payment of
the rent amount, plus $1, 147 in late fees, and
attorney's fees. (Id.) On August 17, 2016, the
Housing Court judge determined that plaintiff's rent for
June and July had been fully paid by DSS and a Stipulation of
Settlement and Discontinuance was filed. (Id. ¶
The Third State Court Proceeding
November 9, 2016, defendants initiated a third nonpayment
eviction proceeding against plaintiff, claiming that she owed
$3, 787.26 for failure to pay rent in October and November
2016, as well as attorney's fees. (Id. ¶
38). On December 20, 2016, plaintiff's attorney filed a
Motion to Dismiss and provided the Housing Court with records
demonstrating that DSS had already paid the defendant $1,
714.40 for the months in question, and that defendant had
cashed the checks for those payments. (Id. ¶
41). Ultimately, the Housing Court judge discontinued the
case with prejudice, finding that plaintiff had made all her
payments through November 30, 2016. (Id. ¶ 42).