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Recent Case of Interest for Real Estate Lawyers

Voluntary Payment Doctrine Precluded Lawsuit
The First Department, over a dissent, determined plaintiff’s (Klein’s) complaint alleging breach of contract, fraud, violation of General Business Law, etc., was properly dismissed pursuant to the voluntary payment doctrine. Klein procured a multi-million dollar loan from defendant. After paying interest and fees to defendant in order to refinance with another lender, Klein sued defendant alleging the fees were excessive and were paid under duress. The majority concluded the voluntary payment doctrine warranted dismissal of the complaint: “The voluntary payment doctrine bars recovery of payments voluntarily made with full knowledge of the facts, in the absence of fraud or mistake of material fact or law . . . . The onus is on a party that receives what it perceives as an improper demand for money to take its position at the time of the demand, and litigate the issue before, rather than after, payment is made . . . . Here, there is no claim of fraud or mistake. Defendant was entirely aboveboard about the amount of money it expected to be paid to settle the loan. Nevertheless, Klein made the calculated decision to schedule the closing and to pay off the entire amount demanded. Nor . . . did Klein take [his] position at the time of the demand.” [internal quotation marks omitted]

DRMAK Realty LLC v. Progressive Credit Union, 2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 08044, 1st Dept 11-5-15

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