Michael J. Spithogiannis


Education & Jurisdictions


Brooklyn Law School, J.D., 1984
Columbia University, B.A., 1981
Licensed in New York and New Jersey

 

Publications

Commercial Tenants Beware For The Times They Are A-Changin'

"The Second Circuit Disregards the Clear Statement Model of Statutory Interpretation to Avoid Anomalous Assessment of Damages in Admiralty Suit," 49 Brooklyn Law Review 659 (1983).

Floyd Grossman, Michael Spithogiannis and Jessica Seidman have joined the Firm

Michael J. Spithogiannis

D: 516-926-3312
T: 516-627-7000
F: 516-877-1172

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Michael J. Spithogiannis, who joined the Firm in 2017, is an accomplished litigator with over thirty years of experience representing clients on complex commercial and real estate litigation matters. Before joining the Firm, he led his own law practice for many years, concentrating on all facets of real estate and commercial litigation, including trials, appeals, discovery, motion practice, oral arguments and depositions. Mr. Spithogiannis’s clients include major real-estate developers and investors, leading title-insurance underwriters, large banks and lending institutions, corporate and individual real property owners, and members and shareholders of prominent closely-held business entities. His practice includes matters involving complex title claims, large tracts of land, intricate mortgage foreclosures, and highly-contested corporate and contract disputes. Having earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1981, Mr. Spithogiannis received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1984, and was a member and editor of the Brooklyn Law Review. Mr. Spithogiannis is licensed to practice law in the States of New York and New Jersey, and is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as well as the United States District Court of New Jersey, and the United States District Courts of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Mr. Spithogiannis has been awarded the AV Preeminent® Rating by Martindale Hubbell.

 

Representative Cases

 

Ammirati v. Van Wicklen, Supreme Court, Nassau County. 

Successfully prosecuted an action under Articles 5 and 15 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) on behalf of a private landowner to establish ownership by adverse possession to property owned by the County of Nassau. Won summary judgment determining that the County of Nassau held title in its “proprietary,” rather than in its “governmental,” capacity, and therefore could be divested of its title by adverse possession. Ammirati v. Van Wicklen, 16 Misc.3d 952, 839 N.Y.S.2d 685 (Sup. Ct. Nassau Co. 2007).

Dolce v. Mandel, Supreme Court, Westchester County.

Litigated and successfully tried a quiet-title action brought on behalf of an owner of a causeway that provided pedestrian and vehicular access to his property situated on an island on the Van Amringe Millpond in the Village of Mamaroneck, successfully defeating the defendant’s adverse-possession claim to the causeway, which, if successful, would have denied the client access to his property.

Eastern Savings Bank v. Campbell, Supreme Court, Kings County

Obtained reversal of a Supreme Court judgment that divested client’s title to real property. The client, a bona fide purchaser, purchased the property form a bank that completed a mortgage foreclosure. Long after the sale, the borrower moved to vacate the client’s deed and the entire foreclosure, claiming she was not served with process in the foreclosure action. The Supreme Court held that service was defective and vacated the client’s deed. The Appellate Division reversed the borrower’s prior agreement to settle and satisfy a deficiency judgment against her was a waiver of any lack-of-personal-jurisdiction defense. Eastern Savings Bank v. Campbell, 167 A.D.3d 712, 90 N.Y.S.3d 212 (2d Dep’t 2018).

Finkelman v. Wood, Supreme Court, Nassau County.

Successfully defended and won summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, in an action brought by a contract-vendee under an executory real-estate contract. The vendee sued for specific performance and filed a notice of pendency but did not record his contract. The action was brought against the ultimate purchaser who did record his deed. Won summary-judgment motion, affirmed on appeal. Interpreting the New York Recording Act, the Appellate Division held that the mere filing of a notice of pendency by a contract-vendee did not affect subsequent purchaser who had recorded his deed. Finkelman v. Wood, 203 A.D.2d 236, 609 A.D.2d 236 (2d Dep’t 1994).

Greenberg v. Sutter, Supreme Court, Nassau County.

Defeated summary-judgment motion, and successfully argued that a deed covenant against grantor’s acts is violated where the grantor, during her ownership, permits adverse possession by a contiguous owner to ripen into ownership. In a case of first impression, the Supreme Court interpreted RPAPL §253(6) and held that a grantor who permitted adverse possession to ripen violated her covenant that she has not “done or suffered anything” that would encumber the property. Greenberg v. Sutter, 173 Misc.2d 774, 661 N.Y.S.2d 933 (Sup. Ct. Nassau Co. 1997).

Motovich Holdings LLC v. 315 W 35th Associates LLC, Supreme Court, New York County.

Successfully represented a real-estate developer in litigation brought to recover a down payment paid on a failed real-estate transaction involving the purchase of a fourteen-story, mixed-use building in Manhattan. Litigation involved four separate lawsuits, including a mortgage foreclosure, and a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy case. Conducted numerous depositions, tried an inquest, authored and argued several motions. After seven years of highly contested litigation, the client’s down payment was recovered.

Strnad v. Brudnicki, Supreme Court, Suffolk County.

Successfully litigated and obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, in a complex, real-property action brought on behalf of fifteen contiguous property owners to enforce an 1100-foot-long, right-of-way easement by express grant created in 1946 over a private road. The case required detailed examination and in-court presentation of numerous filed maps, surveys and deeds. Strnad v. Brudnicki, 200 A.D.2d 735, 606 N.Y.S.2d 913 (2d Dep’t 1994).

Sunshine v. Danbury, Supreme Court, Ulster County.

Successfully defended ownership of a 41-acre subdivision located on the border of Ulster and Delaware Counties near the site of the famous Grand Hotel in Highmount, New York. The plaintiffs sued claiming ownership of the entire subdivision under a 1947 tax deed. Title was traced back to the 1706 Hardenbergh Patent, which granted title to approximately 2,000,000 acres of the Catskill Mountains. Arcane property description in numerous deeds and maps were examined and reconciled to demonstrate that the property described in the plaintiffs’ tax deed was not the property conveyed to the owners of the subdivision, but rather to a tract of similar size and shape situated just south of the subdivision. Conducted numerous depositions including that of Norman J. Van Valkenburgh, a licensed surveyor and 32-year veteran of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who had written extensively about the history of the Catskills and Adirondacks. Prepared and served a summary-judgment motion, after which a favorable settlement was achieved.

Targee Street Internal Medicine Group P.C. v. Harley, Supreme Court, Queens County.

Retained by lender to take over and prosecute a contested foreclosure after an individual in possession of the mortgaged property claimed ownership under an unrecorded deed. During the foreclosure’s pendency the mortgaged property was conveyed under fraudulent deeds thereby creating a rogue chain of title. The “new” owners also mortgaged the property to a “new” lender, who claimed its mortgage was superior to the client’s. Tried and won the case against the individual claiming ownership under the unrecorded deed, proving that it was never “delivered” but was mistakenly released by an escrow agent. Completed the initial foreclosure action, resulting in the client purchasing the property at auction. Then commenced a rarely-used proceeding, known as a reforeclosure under RPAPL §1523, against the “new” lender and “new” owner to foreclose their rights. The “new” lender asserted that the foreclosure was time-barred. Won the case on a motion. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that the client had the absolute right to reforeclose against the adverse interests, and that the statute of limitations was not a bar. Targee Street Internal Medicine Group P.C. v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., 92 A.D.3d 768, 939 N.Y.S.2d 82 (2d Dep’t 2012).

Westhampton Cabins & Cabanas Owners Corp. v. Westhampton Bath & Tennis Club Owners Corp., Supreme Court, Suffolk County.

Successfully defended a lengthy and highly contested litigation of four consolidated actions between two cooperative corporations over their respective rights in the beachfront resort known as the Westhampton Bath & Tennis Club. The case required a thorough understanding of numerous complex real-estate documents, and presentation of cogent, contract-interpretation arguments. Conducted numerous depositions, and prevailed on several key motions, resulting in a favorable settlement.

Wydra v. Chai, Supreme Court, Kings County.

Retained by a real-property owner to appeal a Supreme Court order that denied leave to intervene and contest a foreclosure sale of its property, sold under a fourteen-year-old foreclosure judgment, entered in 1993, long before the client acquired title. The foreclosure judgment had permitted the sale of four separate parcels, including the subject property. The property was auctioned in 1993, but the sale was rescinded by stipulation. The client took title in 2004. Thereafter, the lender moved without notice to the client, to sell the property under the 1993 judgment to satisfy a deficiency and auctioned the property without notice. The Supreme Court denied the client’s motion to intervene. Authored the appellate briefs and argued the appeal, demonstrating that the foreclosing lender had abandoned any rights to the subject property, and that the lien of the 1993 judgment expired before the client’s purchase, leaving the property free and clear of the judgment. The Appellate Division agreed and reversed. Wydra v. Chai, 50 A.D.3d 779, 857 N.Y.S.2d 580 (2d Dep’t 2008). The case involved interpretation of RPAPL §1371(2), and §5203 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.


262-64 Higbie Lane, Inc. v. Town Bd. of Town of Islip, 267 A.D.2d 377, 699 N.Y.S.2d 909 (2d Dep’t 1999).

Farrell v. Sitaras, 22 A.D.3d 518, 803 N.Y.S.2d 659 (2d Dep’t 2005)..

Four Star Oil & Gas Co., Inc. v. Kalish, 272 A.D.2d 292, 707 N.Y.S.2d 189 (2d Dep’t 2000)..

Grammer v. Turits, 271 N.Y.S.2d 644, 706 N.Y.S.2d 453 (2d Dep’t 2000)..

Leist v. Goldstein, 305 A.D.2d 468, 760 N.Y.S.2d 191 (2d Dep’t 2003)..

Madonna v. Town of Riverhead,
23 A.D.3d 388, 806 N.Y.S.2d 75 (2d Dep’t 2005)..

Pau v. Bellavia, 145 A.D.2d 609, 536 N.Y.S.2d 472 (2d Dep’t 1988).

Premium Financial and Realty Services, Inc. v. 233 Broadway Owners, LLC, 20 Misc.3d 1137(A), 867 N.Y.S.2d 377 (Sup. Ct. Kings Co. 2008).

Sirius America Ins. Co. v. Vigo Const. Corp., 48 A.D.3d 450, 852 N.Y.S.2d 176 (2d Dep’t 2008).

Webster v. Sherman, 165 A.D.3d 738, 85 N.Y.S.3d 457 (2d Dep’t 2018)..

W.W.W. Associates, Inc. v. Giancontieri, 77 N.Y.2d 157, 566 N.E.2d 639, 565 N.Y.S.2d 440 (1990).


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