NYS Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Rockaway Hunting Club, Denying Prescriptive Easement Claim

Monday, March 23, 2015

UNIONDALE, NY — Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker, PLLC has announced that the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, ruled in favor of the Firm’s defendant client, Rockaway Hunting Club, against the plaintiffs, Alex Kostovetsky and Marietta Chernerko, denying their appeal of the lower court’s dismissal of their claim to a prescriptive easement. Mr. Kostovetsky and Ms. Chernerko initially filed a claim against the golf club, arguing that a parcel of land that abutted the golf course belonged to them because of the improvements they made to the property and that the golf club tried to block their access to the property with its own enhancements.

Mr. Kostovetsky and Ms. Chernerko contended that, since December 1998, they performed landscaping duties, planted trees and installed lawn sprinklers and also enjoyed use of the land by sunbathing, hosting parties and letting their children play football. They claimed that they were never informed that piece of land belonged to Rockaway Hunting Club and they had no right to perform such work on the land. On August 2, 2011, a surveyor alerted the plaintiffs that part of the property — where beautifications were made — belonged to the defendants.

On May 20, 2012, when an employee with The Rockaway Hunting Club attempted to plant a line of trees, the plaintiffs argued the trees would block their access to the property and limit their use and enjoyment of the property. Fearing that they would lose access and the sprinklers they installed would be destroyed, they filed an injunction, which was later denied.

On January 6, 2014, New York State Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger granted the defendant’s motion to have the claim against them dismissed. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish a right to or over the defendant’s property, stating that because they enjoyed the use of the land and beautified the property did not mean they owned it outright. The plaintiffs styled a claim for prescriptive easement while the golf club maintained that the allegations did not describe that form of interest.

Mr. Kostovestsky and Ms. Chernerko filed an appeal, and the case was argued on January 16, 2015. On February 18, 2015, the Court upheld the New York State Supreme Court’s decision, ruling that the plaintiffs’ claims in regards to the property in question was based on their possession and occupancy of the property, which is inconsistent with a prescriptive easement.

Christian Browne, a Partner with the Firm, and Jenna Gallagher, an Associate with the Firm, represented Rockaway Hunting Club in this case.

“We are pleased to see that the Appeals Court upheld the Supreme Court’s decision in this matter,” Mr. Browne said. “It was clear that the plaintiffs had no right to take this property as their own, despite the improvements they made to the property. The four judges who heard the appeal correctly ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the right to the prescriptive easement over the parcel of land in question.”

For more information about Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker, call (516) 228-1300 or visit www.swcblaw.com.

 

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About Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker, PLLC

Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker, PLLC is committed to providing its clients with the highest quality representation, counsel and advice. Practice areas include zoning and land use planning; real estate law and transactions; litigation and appeals; municipal law and legislative practice; cellular and telecommunications law; environmental, corporate, labor and employment law; tax certiorari and condemnation; matrimonial practice; and estate planning. The firm strives to assist its clients in a wide array of issues, serving them with skill and experience, resourcefulness and responsibility. For more information, call (516) 228-1300 or visit www.swcblaw.com.