3 November 2010
On August 31, 2010, the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Term, First Department, issued a favorable ruling for Mayer Brown’s pro bono client, reversing the decision of the lower court. After a year of negotiation as a pro se tenant, our client signed a stipulation written by counsel for the housing association that owned his building. Unbeknownst to our client, the stipulation as written did not accurately convey the agreement of the parties, leaving the stipulation open to interpretation. The housing association sought to enforce the stipulation under a meaning that was not only at opposite to what the parties agreed, but would expose our client to eviction from his home. The Supreme Court denied two motions to reform the stipulation and the housing association then initiated eviction proceedings against him. After the submission of appellate briefs and oral argument, the Appellate Term adopted one of our arguments and found the stipulation to be ambiguous as written, reversing the decision below and ordering a hearing to determine the meaning of the stipulation. The matter was referred to the firm by The Legal Aid Society, which acted as co-counsel.