Please Circle the Correct Answer

Please Circle the Correct Answer

Law 208 FinalMedgar Evers College

December, 2009Name:______

Please circle the correct answer

1. In deciding whether or not a new promise to pay a debt that had already passed the statute of limitations had to be in writing, the New York Supreme Court decided to follow a New York Court of Appeals case as binding authority. The New York Supreme Court followed the principle of:

a. the New York Supreme Court being the highest court in New York.

b. stare decisis – Latin for “to stand on decided cases”

c. the law of equity and fairness since the time under the statute of limitations expired

d. finding the best written decision in the State of New York

2. West Environmental Services of New York City served process on Eastern Airlines of Los Angeles in New York federal court for flying airplanes into Kennedy Airport that emitted an allegedly excessive amount of airline fuel fumes. Without taking any legal action, Eastern Airlines went to the press and the newspapers for an entire month claiming that the suit was entirely frivolous, and asserting that the federal courts would have to shut down the whole airline industry before West Environmental Services prevailed. In federal court, West Environmental Services of New York City could probably obtain:

a. an order to start trial because Eastern Airlines made no discovery motions.

b. nothing, since Eastern Airlines has two more months to respond as an out-of-state party.

c. a verdict notwithstanding any judgment for publicly interfering with the administration of justice.

d. a default judgment because Eastern Airlines did not answer the suit within 20 days

3. As a condition of being hired, Tiger Trust Investors required Roger Kwame to sign an agreement that called for mandatory and binding arbitration of all disputes including those involving employee protection. After Tiger Trust Investors allegedly discriminated against Roger Kwame by granting more promotions and raises to Caucasian money managers, Roger Kwame is able to:

a. only submit his discrimination dispute to mandatory and binding arbitration.

b. bring his case to federal courts because of the importance of Title VII enforcement.

c. ask the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to issue an advisory solution.

d. file a class action suit on behalf of all underpaid money managers in New York State.

4. Around St. Louis, the Eversounds insured their house with Neverfear Insurance against water damage from the Mississippi River. After a terrorist organization detonated a series of dams, and flooded the area, Neverfear Insurance and the Eversounds disputed over whether the insurance clauses covered this type of water damage. A federal court first decided that the clause about coverage was ambiguous. Using traditional rules of contract interpretation, the federal court judge should:

a. make the most equitable decision as if the clause did not exist.

b. decide for Neverfear Insurance because Al Qaeda caused the damage

c. decide for the Eversounds and construe the contract against Neverfear who drafted it.

d. decide for Neverfear unless the Eversounds can find an expert to show that Neverfear knew of the potential for damage and kept it confidential.

5. After a Harlem landowner, Gloria Davis, extended a Long Island Mining Company an offer to mine quartz on her property, the Long Island Mining Company asked for a sound promise to keep the offer open for six months while the Long Island Mining Company searched for the best place to sell the quartz rock. By the end of six months, the Long Island Mining Company would, according to its promise, negotiate for a good deal with Gloria Davis. Gloria Davis assented. If a Queens Mining Company presents a great offer to Gloria Davis, she:

a. cannot accept the Queens offer because she has to keep her offer open to the Long Island Mining Company.

b. cannot accept the Queens offer unless the Long Island Mining Company did not make any effort to search for better quartz prices.

c. can accept the Queens offer after giving the Long Island company notice and adequate time to immediately respond.

d. can accept the Queens offer because the Long Island Mining Company did not buy an option contract to keep the offer open.

6. The acceptance of an offer is generally valid when deposited in a mailbox unless:

a. The above is FALSE. An acceptance is valid when received as a clear rule for deciding cases.

b. the offeror stipulates in the offer that acceptance is valid upon receipt.

c. the offeree sends a rejection and acceptance depends on whether the rejection or acceptance arrives first

d. (b) and (c) are both correct.

7. On the Judge Mathis Show, a plaintiff claimed that the defendant wrote a bad check to him for a gambling debt. The defendant admitted the check was bad but asserted that he would have made full payment on the debt if the plaintiff had not called the police on the defendant. Judge Mathis decided for:

a. the plaintiff because writing bad checks is fraudulent behavior.

b. the plaintiff in enforcement of the entire debt.

c. the defendant because the gambling basis of the contract was illegal.

d. the defendant because calling the police was harassment.

8. Gary is a state court judge. In his court, as in most state courts, he may grant

a. equitable and legal remedies

b. equitable remedies only

c. legal remedies only

d. neither equitable nor legal remedies

9. Under the Constitution, the legislative branch of the government

a. administer the laws

b. enforces the laws

c. interprets the laws

d. makes the laws

10. Gamma owns a small business and is one of many who fears the construction of a new Walmart in her neighborhood as this will allow her to lose customers. Gamma may file against Walmart for:

a. a license

b. an injunction

c. a specific performance

d. summary judgment

11. Dr. Roddick pulled over from the highway to assist a bleeding passenger who was in a car accident. After Dr. Roddick arrived at his medical practice, he sent the passenger a bill. Under what theory, can Dr. Roddick be paid?

a.quasi contract


c.acceptance of his services by passenger

d.none of the above

  1. The United States has a common law system. The common law began
  1. as a body of general rules applied in the courts throughout England
  2. as a group of legal principles enacted by continental European nations
  3. as part of the Roman civil law
  4. in the Islamic courts of Muslim countries

SHORT ESSAY QUESTION: 1) Define eminent domain. 2) Using the following materials, explain why a New York appeals court ruled that the state could not use eminent domain to help Columbia University obtain parts of a 17-acre site in Upper Manhattan when Columbia already owned 61 of the 67 buildings in the area. 3) Did the court make the correct decision?

December 4, 2009

Court Bars New York’s Takeover of Land for Columbia Campus


A New York appeals court ruled Thursday that the state could not use eminent domain on behalf of Columbia University to obtain parts of a 17-acre site in Upper Manhattan, setting back plans for a satellite campus at a time of discord over government power to acquire property.

In a 3-to-2 decision, a panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan annulled the state’s 2008 decision to take property for the expansion project, saying that its condemnation procedure was unconstitutional.

The majority opinion was scathing in its appraisal of how the “scheme was hatched,” using terms like “sophistry” and “idiocy” in describing how the state went about declaring the neighborhood blighted, the main prerequisite for eminent domain.

The $6.3 billion expansion plan is not dead; an appeal has been promised, and Columbia still controls most of the land. But at a time when the government’s use of eminent domain on behalf of private interests has become increasingly controversial, the ruling was a boon for opponents.

“I feel unbelievable,” said Nicholas Sprayregen, the owner of several self-storage warehouses in the Manhattanville expansion area and one of two property owners who have refused to sell to the university. “I was always cautiously optimistic. But I was aware we were going against 50 years of unfair cases against property owners.”

A spokesman for Columbia, David M. Stone, referred all questions to state officials.

Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corporation, the agency that approved the use of eminent domain, called the decision “wrong and inconsistent with established law, as consistently articulated by the New York State Court of Appeals, most recently with respect to E.S.D.C.’s Atlantic Yards project.” He added, “E.S.D.C. intends to appeal this decision.”

The ruling comes less than two weeks after the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled 6 to 1 that the state could exercise eminent domain in taking businesses, public property and private homes on behalf of a Brooklyn developer who planned a 22-acre residential development and a basketball arena.

Proponents of Columbia’s plan expressed optimism that Thursday’s decision would be overturned by the Court of Appeals. But Norman Siegel, a lawyer for the holdout owners, called the ruling a “major victory” in a state that has been deferential to its power to take private property.

“The decision sets forth a road map for how private property owners in New York and throughout America can fight back when government tries to seize your property in the name of eminent domain,” he said.

Columbia embarked in 2003 on its first major expansion in 75 years, saying it had outgrown its Morningside Heights campus. It planned to replace the low-scale industrial buildings north of 125th Street, in the Manhattanville area, with school buildings, laboratories, restaurants and tree-lined streets.

The court’s decision, if it is upheld, is not fatal to the plan. Columbia already owns or controls 61 of 67 buildings in the 17-acre project area. Presumably, it can build around the holdout owners, or come to agreement with them. But the state and the university have sought the entire site.

Mr. Sprayregen said he never opposed the plan. “The research and education they will perform are very beneficial,” he said. “The fact remains that even if they don’t get the last 5 percent, they can still go ahead and build their campus.”

Amrik Singh, who manages two gas stations involved in the case, said: “I want to thank God and the judges who gave us the decision. We were scared. We were all worried about our jobs.”

Mr. Sprayregen and the family that owns the stations challenged the process the state used in finding that the neighborhood was blighted.

Writing for the majority, Justice James M. Catterson said there was a conflict of interest when the state hired the same real estate consultant, AKRF, that Columbia had hired to make the determination of blight. “We questioned AKRF’s ability to provide ‘objective advice’ to the E.S.D.C., particularly with respect to its preparation of the blight study,” Justice Catterson wrote.

The blight designation, the court said, was “mere sophistry” about a neighborhood that was already undergoing a renaissance. The state’s development corporation committed to rezoning long before the study, “not for the goal of general economic development or to remediate an area that was blighted before Columbia acquired over 50 percent of the property, but rather solely for the expansion itself.”

“Even a cursory examination of the study reveals the idiocy of considering things like unpainted block walls or loose awning supports as evidence of a blighted neighborhood,” Justice Catterson wrote.

A spokesman for the firm said in response to the court’s ruling: “As a firm of planners and analysts, AKRF’s responsibility is the collection and assessment of data in an objective and thorough manner. Our analyses help inform a public decision-making process. They are not advocacy documents.”

The court’s opinion also drew a distinction between the circumstances in Manhattanville and New London, Conn., the subject of a United States Supreme Court decision in 2005. In that case, the court upheld the taking of land, in part, because the city had devised a wide-ranging downtown revitalization plan.

In New York, the Appellate Division said the state and city development agencies “were compelled to engineer a public purpose for a quintessentially private development: eradication of blight,” after “having committed to allow Columbia to annex Manhattanville.”

The court found no civic purpose to this use of eminent domain and criticized state officials for arbitrarily closing the administrative record from further comment by opponents and withholding relevant public documents from the property owners.

In the dissent, Justice Peter Tom wrote that the expansion of an educational institution qualified as a public purpose. He wrote that the property owners’ arguments over blight constituted merely a “difference of opinion” that requires the court to defer to the state’s decision to use eminent domain. Justice Tom wrote that the Court of Appeals had used similar reasoning in the Atlantic Yards case.

Despite the recent Atlantic Yards ruling, the decision Thursday gave hope to property owners battling the use of eminent domain in Brooklyn and Queens. “We feel like we just got thrown a lifeline,” said Matthew Brinckerhoff, a lawyer for the property owners at Atlantic Yards.

A year ago, the City Council authorized the use of eminent domain to take a 62-acre area of mostly salvage yards and auto repair shops known as Willets Point in Queens. “The tide may be turning on the use of eminent domain for private purposes,” said Jake Bono, a spokesman for Willets Point United, a group of property owners opposed to condemnation.

Lisa W. Foderaro contributed reporting.

In re Parminder Kaur, et al., Petitioners, v New York State Urban Development Corporation, etc., Respondent. In re Tuck-It-Away, Inc., et al., Petitioners, v New York State Urban Development Corporation, etc., Respondent.



2009 NY Slip Op 8976; 2009 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8799

December 3, 2009, Decided
December 3, 2009, Entered


PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Petitioner owners filed EDPL 207 petitions challenging determinations by respondent condemnor that approved the acquisition of their real property for a new campus for a university, as violative of U.S. Const. amend. V and N.Y. Const. art. I, § 7.
OVERVIEW: The university sought to obtain certain property on its own and thereafter joined with the condemnor to obtain the rest. The estimated acquisition and construction cost for the project were to be funded by the university without any contribution from any municipal entity. The court found, inter alia, that the condemnor's determination of a public use, benefit, or purpose for the project was wholly unsupported by the record and precedent. The blight designation was mere sophistry. The true beneficiary of the scheme to redevelop the property was not the community that was supposedly blighted, but rather the university. The condemnor intentionally limited the administrative record by arbitrarily closing it, while simultaneously withholding documents that the owners were legally entitled to receive. As a result, the condemnor's actions deprived the owners of a reasonable opportunity to be heard under EDPL 203 and violated their due process rights under amend. XIV, and § 6.
OUTCOME: The petitions was granted, and the determination was annulled.

OPINION BY: James M. Catterson

In [**2]these proceedings, the petitions challenge the determination of respondent New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation, dated December 18, 2008, which approved the acquisition of certain real property for the project commonly referred to as the Columbia University Educational Mixed Use Development Land Use Improvement and Civic Project.


" An ACT of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority […] A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean […] [A] law that takes property from A and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it. The genius, the nature, and the spirit, of our State Government, amount to a prohibition of such acts of legislation; and the general principles of law and reason forbid them." Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. 386, 388, 3 Dall. 386, 388, 1 L.Ed. 648 (1798). 1

------Footnotes ------

1The beginning of Justice O'Connor's dissent in Kelo v. City of New London (545 U.S. 469, 494, 125 S.Ct. 2655, 162 L.Ed.2d 439, 460-462 (2005))[**3]quotes extensively from this passage. However, one need not adopt her dissenting position to agree with the powerful warning of Justice Chase in Calder.

The exercise of eminent domain power by the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation (hereinafter referred to as "ESDC") to benefit a private elite education institution is violative of the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution, article 1, § 7 of the New York Constitution, and the "first principles of the social contract." The process employed by ESDC predetermined the unconstitutional outcome, was bereft of facts which established that the neighborhood in question was blighted, and ultimately precluded the petitioners from presenting a full record before either the ESDC or, ultimately, this Court. In short, it is a skein worth unraveling….