The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the breach of the warranty of habitability cause of action should not have been dismissed . The plaintiff’s motion for certification of the “damages class” was granted. The class action concerned the loss of heat and/or hot water in NYC Housing Authority properties:
In order to prove a claim for breach of the warranty of habitability, plaintiffs must show the extensiveness of the breach, the manner in which it affected the health, welfare or safety of the tenants, and the measures taken by the landlord to alleviate the violation … .
NYCHA conceded that 80% of its housing units experienced heat and/or hot water outages during the relevant period, which demonstrates that the problems that affected each class member were system-wide. Thus, much of the proof will likely concern NYCHA’s overall deficiencies, rather than the breakdown of individual heating systems in individual buildings. The need to conduct individualized damages inquiries does not prevent class certification as long as common issues of liability predominate … .
In any event, the heating systems that failed served multiple housing units, and proof of NYCHA’s efforts to repair each system will be common to numerous class members. In order to address any concerns with the size or disparity of the class, the court can designate subclasses consisting of tenants of a particular NYCHA complex, development or building … .
Moreover, class action treatment is the most efficient method for adjudicating the claims of class members who lack the resources to bring individual actions for the small recovery they might obtain … . Diamond v New York City Hous. Auth., 2020 NY Slip Op 00376, First Dept 1-21-20