Taxing Embassies. The City of New York tried to tax parts of embassies that were used in a manner that would subject them to property tax. Embassy buildings are exempt from taxes only if they are used for embassy offices and the quarters of a diplomat. The builidngs at issue also had living space for embassy employees who were not diplomats. Under the law, that portion of the premises would be taxable. India and Mongolia did not pay their tax bills, and the City obtained tax liens. It commenced an action to establish the validity of the liens on the embassy (acutally missions to the UN) property.
India and Mongolia claimed to be exempt by sovereign immunity, but the district court disagreed, holding that an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. The Act exempts any case in which rights in immovable property situated in the United States are in issue. The Second Circuit affirmed and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court emphasized that it was not deciding the merits of the dispute. It merely decided that the case was not barred by sovereign immunity.
The decision in City of New York v. Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations can be found here.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Wolff & Byrd, Consellors of the Macabre. Well, they're fictional, but they do practice in the Second Circuit (Brooklyn, to be precise). I would be remiss if I did not alert my regular readers to the new Supermatural Law website with web comic strips of Wolff & Byrd, the specialists in supernatural law. Wolff & Byrd used to appear regularly in the National Law Journal, but unfortunately those golden days are over, but you can get your W&B fix on line -- for free. It's really nice of my good friend, Batton Lash, to provide us with this free entertainment. But if you really like them, you can help Bat by buying the Wolff & Byrd books. But, at any rate, you owe it to yourself to at least check the site out.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Certified Question. Doe v. Newbury Bible Church involves an allegation of sexual molestation of a boy by the former pastor of the church. The case was sent to Vermont for certification of a question relating to vicarious liability. It is persently unclear whether a church can be held vicariously liable for the acts of its pastor. The decision in this case can be found at the Second Circuit website. It was decided on April 21, 2006.
Pleading Standard. In Liebowitz v. Cornell University, the Second Circuit vacated in part a decision of the Southern District of New York, dismissing the plaintiff's employment discrimination. The case had been dismissed on a motion to dismiss where "all factual allegations in the complaint" are to be taken as true. The District Court, however, did not take all of the factual allegations as true, but instead accepted certain allegations of the University. The Second Circuit held that the complaint, if the allegations were true, did state a cause of action, and vacated the judgment as to those causes of action, while affirming the dismissal of other causes of action, which it found had not been adequately pleaded. The decision can be found at the Second Circuit website. It was decided on April 21, 2006.
Read a Book. The Advisory Group to the New York State and Federal Judicial Council announces the publication of the Second Edition of the "Practice Handbook on Certification of State Law Questions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to the New York State Court of Appeals". It can be obtained from the Second Circuit website.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Landlord/Tenant Law and the FDCPA. The Second Circuit decided that the service of a notice of petition and petition in a non-payment proceeding brought by a landlord against his tenant constitues an "initial communication" under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. Hence, the warnings and notices required by 13 U.S.C. 1692g should have been sent with the pleadings. The Second Circuit has joined the Seventh Circuit on this issue. The decision in Goldman v. Cohen can be found on the Second Circuit website. It was decided on April 12, 2006.