Emanuel Development Corp. V. Spring Road LJR/NIBA Associates, LLC

Court: New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department (2009)

Citation: 61 A.D.3d 631, 876 N.Y.S.2d 167, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 02746

Background: Our client, Emanuel Development Corp., entered into an agreement to buy land from the defendant for $1,750,000. The agreement was contingent upon the defendant obtaining a rezoning approval from the Town Board of Huntington so Emanuel could develop the land. A rider was added to the purchase contract specifying that the rezoning approval must be for the development of residential condominium units.

Details of the case: The Town Board of Huntington did approve the rezoning but specifically stated that the units could not be condominiums or cooperative-type units. Emanuel attempted to cancel the contract and sought the return of its down payment, claiming the conditions of the rider had not been met.

The seller and Emanuel contested the use of the word "condominium" in the contract rider. Emanuel contended that the term was specific and should be interpreted as such. The seller argued that the term is used in the generic sense. Emanuel moved for summary judgment, but the Supreme Court in Nassau County denied the motion, ruling that there were triable issues of fact.

Decision: The Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court's decision and granted our client's motion for summary judgment. The court ruled that the word "condominium" has an unambiguous legal meaning and, since the Town Board did not allow rezoning for condominiums the conditions of the rider had not been met. Our client was allowed to cancel the contract and was awarded the return of its $87,500 down payment plus interest.

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