Judge rules Letitia James lacks legal standing in suit against city, landlords

Public advocate sued the DOB, owners over lack of accessibility at building

Pubic Advocate Letitia James
Pubic Advocate Letitia James

A judge dismissed multiple counts in a complaint against the city and several landlords over the lack of accessibility at their apartment buildings, ruling that Public Advocate Letitia James didn’t have the legal standing to sue.

In February 2015, James and the Center for Independence of the Disabled sued the city’s Department of Buildings and the landlords, on behalf of tenants who said the buildings were not adequately accessible for people in disabilities.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts ruled late last month that neither had legal standing, Politico reported.

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Since taking office in 2014, James has filed 11 lawsuits, more than any of her predecessors, and has experienced pushback. She has been removed from other lawsuits for lack of standing, and the city’s Law Department is trying to get her removed from other suits she has filed against the city, Politico reported.

Last month, the city settled a federal lawsuit filed by elderly and disabled tenants who said they lost their rent subsidy after family members died and agreed to pay $130,000 to 10 plaintiffs. James and the tenants filed the suit last year over the Department of Finance enacting a rule that changed deadlines for rent freeze programs, such as Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption.

James’ “Worst Landlords” list —  it features property owners around the city who have racked up the most violations relative to the number of apartments they own — came under fire when it wrongly included a landlord. [Politico]Dusica Sue Malesevic