Brooklyn Legal Services (Vance Gathing, Esq.), for appellant.
& Cohen, P.C. (Adam M. Bernstein, Esq.), for respondent.
Larry Jeremias, nonparty-respondent (no brief filed).
PRESENT:: MICHAEL L. PESCE, P.J., MICHELLE WESTON, DAVID
from an order of the Civil Court of the City of New York,
Kings County (Marcia J. Sikowitz, J.), entered March 12,
2015. The order, insofar as appealed from and as limited by
the brief, denied the branch of tenant's motion seeking
to punish landlord and nonparty Larry Jeremias,
landlord's managing agent, for civil contempt for
violating orders of the same court dated September 4, 2014
and September 22, 2014, directing landlord to restore
tenant's apartment to a habitable condition.
that the order entered March 12, 2015, insofar as appealed
from, is affirmed, without costs.
tenant had been evicted pursuant to a nonpayment final
judgment, landlord immediately began to demolish tenant's
apartment's bathroom and kitchen, rendering the premises
uninhabitable. By order dated September 4, 2014, the Civil
Court granted a motion by tenant to be restored to possession
and directed landlord to restore tenant to possession upon
tenant's payment of arrears in the sum of $8, 519.51, in
effect, by September 16, 2014 and to restore the premises to
a habitable condition forthwith upon such payment. Tenant
failed to make the payment due by September 16, 2014 and,
instead, moved, by order to show cause dated September 16,
2014, to, among other things, be restored to possession. By
order dated September 18, 2014, the Civil Court extended
tenant's time for payment until September 22, 2014 and
adjourned the remainder of tenant's motion to September
22, 2014. In an order dated September 22, 2014, the Civil
Court found that it was undisputed that all arrears had been
paid on September 19, 2014 and that tenant had been restored
to possession, and ordered landlord to restore the premises
to a habitable condition. The court also directed tenant to
provide landlord with access on specified dates and times in
early September and the beginning of October to allow
landlord to effectuate the necessary repairs to the premises.
Thereafter, in November 2014, tenant moved to, among other
things, punish landlord and Larry Jeremias, landlord's
managing agent, for civil contempt for violating the orders
dated September 4, 2014 and September 22, 2014 (see
Judiciary Law § 753), alleging, among other things, that
they had failed to restore the premises to a habitable
condition. Landlord and Jeremias opposed the motion,
asserting, among other things, that tenant had denied access
to the premises. By order entered March 12, 2015, the Civil
Court, among other things, denied as "moot" the
branch of tenant's motion seeking to punish landlord and
Jeremias for contempt for failing to restore the apartment to
a habitable condition, as the premises had by then been
restored to a habitable condition.
appeal, tenant argues that the branch of the motion seeking
to punish landlord and Jeremias for civil contempt for
failing to restore the apartment to a habitable condition was
not "moot, " as she had been without a kitchen and
bathroom for several months.
contempt seeks vindication for individuals who have been
injured or harmed by [a] contemnor's failure to obey a
court order. A civil contempt penalty is imposed not to
punish but, rather, to compensate the injured private party
or to coerce compliance with the court's mandate"
(Matter of Department of Hous. Preserv. & Dev. of
City of NY v Deka Realty Corp., 208 A.D.2d 37, 42 
[internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see
El-Dehdan v El-Dehdan, 26 N.Y.3d 19');">26 N.Y.3d 19 ; State of
New York v Unique Ideas, 44 N.Y.2d 345, 349 ).
order entered September 22, 2014, the court noted that it was
undisputed that tenant had paid the arrears on September 19,
2014 and directed tenant to provide access to the premises on
particular days and specific times for landlord to make the
necessary repairs to restore the premises to a habitable
condition. It appears from Jeremias's affidavit,
submitted in opposition to the contempt motion, and it is
undisputed by tenant, that all the work was completed as of
January 20, 2015.
outset we note that, since tenant failed to timely make the
payment required by the September 4, 2014 conditional order,
there was no violation of the order requiring restoration of
tenant argues that an agent can be held liable for its
principal's contempt, here Jeremias was not named in the
September 22, 2014 order allegedly violated and this order
was not served upon him. Thus, there is no basis to punish
Jeremias for contempt thereof (see Korea Chosun Daily
Times, Inc. v Dough Boy Donuts Corp, 129 A.D.3d 918');">129 A.D.3d 918
; cf. Citibank, N.A. v Anthony
Lincoln-Mercury, 86 A.D.2d 828');">86 A.D.2d 828 ).
respect to the Civil Court's use of the word
"moot" in denying the branch of tenant's motion
seeking to punish landlord (and Jeremias) for contempt in
violating the September 22, 2014 order, we note that that
branch of the motion had not been rendered "moot"
in the sense that there was no justiciable controversy to be
determined. However, in the context of the particular facts
and circumstances presented before it, the Civil Court was,
in effect, exercising its discretion in finding that landlord
(and Jeremias) should not be punished for contempt, a finding
with which we are in agreement.
the order entered March 12, 2015, insofar as ...