The Second Department reversed Supreme Court finding that plaintiff’s housing discrimination action was not precluded by the landlord’s prior successful eviction action under the doctrine of collateral estoppel. Although it was determined that there was a nondiscriminatory reason for the eviction, the eviction proceeding did not address issues raised in the discrimination action. The court explained the criteria for collateral estoppel:
“The doctrine of collateral estoppel . . . precludes a party from relitigating in a subsequent action or proceeding an issue clearly raised in a prior action or proceeding and decided against that party or those in privity, whether or not the tribunals or causes of action are the same” … . “The two elements that must be satisfied to invoke the doctrine of collateral estoppel are that (1) the identical issue was decided in the prior action and is decisive in the present action, and (2) the party to be precluded from relitigating the issue had a full and fair opportunity to contest the prior issue” … . “Preclusive effect, however, will only be given where the particular issue was actually litigated, squarely addressed and specifically decided'” … . “Generally, for a question to have been actually litigated’ so as to satisfy the identity requirement, it must have been properly raised by the pleadings or otherwise placed in issue and actually determined in the prior proceeding'” … .
Here, while the Supreme Court and the landlords characterize the instant action as one to recover damages for “wrongful eviction,” that is not the essence of the plaintiff’s claim. Rather, the complaint alleges that, upon learning that the plaintiff suffered from a mental illness, the defendants engaged in a course of “harassment, discrimination and hostile conduct” against him that spanned several years and predated the decision to enforce the rule pertaining to carpeting of the floor against him. The prior summary proceeding did not decide whether the plaintiff was subjected to harassment based on his mental illness, whether such harassment affected a term, condition, or privilege of his housing, or any other elements of his cause of action to recover damages for housing discrimination based on disability in violation of Executive Law § 296(5) … . Curley v Bon Aire Props Inc, 2015 NY Slip Op 00718, 2nd Dept 1-28-15