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Judge dismisses suit seeking to overturn governor's order halting evictions during pandemic

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday that sought to overturn Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order halting evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit had been filed by a group of Westchester County landlords who said Cuomo violated their rights and deprived them of income. They said the order violated the Due Process Clause and the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

But U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel disagreed — and upheld an earlier court ruling. Further, the judge noted the landlords missed an August deadline for objecting to Cuomo’s request to dismiss the case.

“The plaintiffs have not come forward despite an opportunity to do so with any argument or reason why the court ought not to grant the motions,” Castel wrote. Therefore, “the clerk shall enter judgment for the defendants and close the case.”

The landlords also had sought to block the collection of property taxes they owed, a motion which also failed.

Cuomo, using extraordinary emergency powers given to him by the State Legislature amid the pandemic, issued the moratorium in March, banning any evictions for 90 days. He eventually renewed it and in August signed legislation extending it through the length of the pandemic.

However, the moratorium doesn’t apply to eviction cases launched in the court system before March 20 — leaving an estimated 14,000 families across the state facing eviction warrants. Those cases are still pending, though Lawrence Marks, New York’s chief administrative judge, ordered courts not to executive any residential evictions warrants before Oct. 1.

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