Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 10, 2012

NY Appellate Court Affirms Sanctions Imposed for Violation of TRO

The appeal addressed by this opinion is a companion to another appeal heard by the Appellate Division, Second Department, under the caption 2010-05428.  That appeal has been addressed in another post, and reaches the merits of the underlying cause of action.

In 2009, during the pendency of this action, the Supreme Court, Rockland County issued a temporary restraining order (hereinafter “TRO”) that prohibited the Town of Ramapo from issuing permits to an applicant who had been granted a permit under the challenged zoning regulation, known as the Adult Student Housing Law.  While the appeal concerning the merits of this action was pending before the Second Department, the Supreme Court found the Town in contempt the TRO, and issued sanctions.  The Town appealed this finding of contempt.  In the companion appeal, the Second Department vacated the TRO.  Nevertheless, under the instant appeal, the Second Department found the Supreme Court did not err in finding contempt.

First, the Second Department addressed the vacating of the TRO under the companion appeal.  The court provided that a TRO violation can lead to sanctions even where the TRO is later vacated on appeal.

During the pendency of appeal, the Town was entitled to a statutory stay of the Supreme Court’s judgment.  This stay, however, did not apply to prohibitory portions of the Supreme Court’s order.  TRO’s are prohibitory in nature, and thus the stay did not apply.  The Supreme Court provided that the TRO was to remain in effect until final resolution of the case.  While the appeal of the underlying cause of action was pending, the Town issued a certificate of occupancy in violation of the TRO.  Based on this violation, the Second Department determined the Supreme Court was correct to the find the Town in contempt on the TRO.

The Second Department affirmed the finding of the Supreme Court and remanded the matter to determine the amount of sanctions.  However, the Second Department did modify the amount of sanctions that could be imposed.  The court affirmed the sanctions related to attorney’s fees, costs and expenses incurred by petitioners in moving to hold the Town in contempt, but reversed the sanction of $250 a day until the contempt was purged.

Village of Chestnut Ridge v. Town of Ramapo, 2012 WL 4901075 (NYAD  2nd Dep’t, 10/17/ 2012).

The opinion can be accessed here.


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