Entries Posted in Judgments

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Shareholder Jacob Lamme, a member of McNamee Lochner’s litigation department, recently obtained two court orders in related tax certiorari cases that granted full real property tax exemptions for eight (8) properties under Sections 420-a and 462 of the Real Property Tax Law.   The City of Amsterdam had denied tax exemptions to two religious entities for the properties, claiming that the properties were not used in a manner sufficient to warrant exemption.  Jacob successfully argued that his clients’ use of the properties, as clergy housing and parking lots associated with a Buddhist temple, qualified them for exemption under the law.

This marks another real property tax litigation victory that Jacob has obtained on behalf of a religious institution.  In 2014, Jacob was part of the litigation team that successfully appealed a determination to the Appellate Division, Third Department, and obtained a tax exemption for a large religious summer camp in Schoharie County that serves underprivileged children.

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Kevin Laurilliard, an attorney who practices construction law at McNamee Lochner P.C., obtained an important precedential decision that applies to New York State private construction projects.

The New York State Appellate Division for the Third Department ruled that a contractor may have the legal right to opt for expedited arbitration in lieu of litigation, notwithstanding an express provision in the written construction contract that mandated litigation. Expedited arbitration can allow a contractor, subcontractor and supplier to settle disputes in a more efficient and timely matter.

Based upon this precedential decision, contractors, suppliers and subcontractors, who provide labor and/or material to private construction projects in New York State where the aggregate costs exceeds $150,000 can now decide to pursue expedited arbitration.

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John Privitera and Jacob Lamme achieved a substantial appellate victory, establishing and protecting the legal right of religious and charitable organizations to obtain real property tax exemptions even if improvements on an organization’s real property are incomplete.

The Town of Jefferson, in the foothills of the Catskills, had sought to impose real property taxes upon Oorah, Inc., a religious charity that provides year-round activities and summer camp experiences to underprivileged children. The Town wrongfully challenged Oorah’s federal tax exemption; questioned Oorah’s religious and charitable purposes; and, illegally denied Oorah’s right to be exempt from real property taxes.

The Town’s effort to deny Oorah’s rights, based upon purported violations of local building and fire codes at incomplete recreational facilities for the children, failed. The appellate victory establishes that municipalities in New York may not deprive a charity of its right to tax exempt status based upon the building or fire codes.