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Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.

Pro Bono Clients Win Dismissal of Landlord Complaint

Paul, Weiss successfully obtained the dismissal of a complaint brought by a landlord, Queens Madison, LLC, against pro bono clients Make the Road New York (MRNY), a MRNY attorney and several Queens Madison tenants whom the MRNY attorney had represented against the landlord in New York City Housing Court.

In its complaint, Queens Madison alleged that the MRNY attorney had unlawfully advised the tenants to withhold their rent, had further advised the tenants to instead deposit that rent money with her, and had used the rent money deposited for her own personal use. Although not well articulated, the plaintiff appeared to assert a breach of contract claim against the tenants, claims for larceny, conversion, failure to provide an accounting and violations of New York General Business Law Section 349 against the MRNY attorney, and claims against MRNY under a theory of respondeat superior in an attempt to hold the organization liable for the actions of its employee.

In our motion to dismiss, we argued that Queens Madison had failed to state a claim as to any defendant. The plaintiff had failed to state a claim for breach of contract because it had not identified any contract provision that tenants had violated. With respect to the MRNY attorney, plaintiff’s claim for larceny could not be sustained because larceny is not a civil cause of action in New York State; plaintiff failed to state a claim for conversion because it never possessed the rent money that had allegedly been “converted”; plaintiff could not demand an accounting because it was not in a fiduciary relationship with the MRNY attorney; and General Business Law Section 349 was inapplicable. Finally, because the plaintiff had failed to state a claim against the MRNY attorney, MRNY could not be vicariously liable.

In its opinion, the court adopted all of these arguments and dismissed the complaint in its entirety.

The Paul, Weiss team included pro bono attorney Jeremy Benjamin and litigation associate Eric Abrams. Litigation partner Gregory Laufer supervised the matter.

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