HMGDJ represented Daniel Colazzo and 17 other tenants of an apartment building

HMGDJ represented Daniel Colazzo and 17 other tenants of an apartment building who filed a lawsuit against their landlord, Netherland Property Assets, for rent overcharge. The lower court dismissed the case, based on what is called the "doctrine of primary jurisdiction," stating that the tenants should have filed administrative complaints with the NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), not with the court. The tenants appealed on the ground that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the case and the tenants have the right to choose which forum they want to bring their overcharge claim. While the appeal was pending, the NY State Legislature enacted a law which specifically states that tenants have the choice of whether to file overcharge claims with the Court or the DHCR. The landlord's attorneys argued that the new law did not apply to the case, and that even if the new law applied, it does not explicitly say that the tenant's choice of forum must be honored. The NY Court of Appeals, a panel of seven judges, heard oral argument on January 7. The DHCR and the NYS Attorney General's office submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the tenants. Also, several legal aid and legal services organizations filed amicus briefs on behalf of the tenants. A decision is expected within 30-60 days.

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