The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the stipulation entered by plaintiff tenant and defendant landlord, pursuant to a Yellowstone Injunction, should not have modified by the judge. The defendant landlord notified plaintiff of several alleged defaults under the lease, and subsequently notified tenant of the termination of the lease. Plaintiff tenant sued defendant landlord and moved for a Yellowstone injunction which the court ordered. The parties entered a so-ordered stipulation requiring plaintiff tenant to pay over $100,000 per month for use and occupancy of the property during the court proceedings. More than a year later plaintiff tenant moved to move to modify the stipulation to reduce the monthly use and occupancy payments and the court reduced the payments to zero:
The so-ordered November 2015 stipulation was negotiated by the parties and accepted by the Supreme Court, and, as a result, may be considered a court order … . “Although the Supreme Court retains inherent discretionary power to relieve a party from a judgment or order for sufficient reason and in the interest of substantial justice, [a] court’s inherent power to exercise control over its judgment is not plenary, and should be resorted to only to relieve a party from judgments taken through [fraud], mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect” … . Nevertheless, “[u]nder almost any given state of facts, where to enforce a stipulation would be unjust or inequitable or permit the other party to gain an unconscionable advantage, courts will afford relief” … . …
Although the landlord generally has the burden of proving the amount owed by the tenant … , here, it was the plaintiff’s burden, on its motion to modify the “September 22, 2015 order, as amended,” to demonstrate that the payment of use and occupancy in the amount of $111,041.66 per month was unjust.
In concluding that the subject property had no value “as long as the Notice of Default remains on the property,” the Supreme Court erroneously considered the value to the plaintiff of using and occupying the subject property after the lease was purportedly terminated, instead of considering the fair market rental value of the subject property, namely, the amount that a prospective commercial tenant would be willing to pay to lease the subject property from the defendant … . 255 Butler Assoc., LLC v 255 Butler, LLC, 2019 NY Slip Op 04344, Second Dept 6-5-19