In 15th Assoc. LLC v. Pamblanco , the landlord -- 15th Associates, LLC -- won a summary holdover proceeding that it had filed against its tenant.
While an appeal of the case was pending, the tenant died. Rather than issue a substantive decision on the merits, the Appellate Term, First Department, opted to dismiss the appeal without prejudice. The court cited a "lack of jurisdiction" to entertain the matter upon the death of a party. Here's what the AT1 wrote:
The death of a party divests the court of jurisdiction and stays the proceedings until a proper substitution has been made pursuant to CPLR 1015(a). In the absence of a substitution of a representative for the estate of the (now) deceased tenant-appellant, this court is without jurisdiction to hear and decide the appeal ....
We don't understand why the court felt compelled to use the words "lack of jurisdiction" and why it opted to dismiss the appeal. Here's what CPLR 1015(a) provides:
Substitution upon death. (a) Generally. If a party dies and the claim for or against him is not thereby extinguished the court shall order substitution of the proper parties.
Where in that statutory language does it say the court is divested of "jurisdiction" upon a litigant's death? And, why did the court refuse to stay the appeal so as to allow for an appropriate substitution (by an estate representative)?
We're dying to figure this one out!
For a copy of the Appellate Term's decision, please use this link: 15th Assoc. LLC v. Pamblanco