Town of Huntington v. Long Island Power Authority, et al. (Suffolk Cty., Emerson, J.) (8/18/2018)

By Mark S. Mulholland, Esq.

Justice Elizabeth H. Emerson awarded summary judgment in favor of defendants LIPA, LILCO and National Grid dismissing the Town of Huntington’s claims aimed at preventing LIPA from proceeding with tax certiorari challenges against the Town’s real estate tax assessments on LIPA owned properties. The Court’s extensive decision includes an analysis of the Town’s third-party beneficiary claims, under which Huntington claimed to be a beneficiary of contractual assurances made by LIPA as part of its historic, legislatively enacted takeover of LILCO in 1997. The Court further rejected the Town’s promissory estoppel claims, explaining that promissory estoppel “is a narrow doctrine designed to enforce a contract in the interest of justice when some formation problem, such as the statute of frauds or a failure of consideration, would otherwise prevent enforcement.” Justice Emerson’s sweeping decision concluded that the Town had failed to establish its promissory estoppel claim as a matter of law, observing inter alia that extra-contractual promises and assurances by LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel and others at town-hall style meetings held on Long Island before the execution of the definitive Power Supply Agreement between LIPA and LILCO, were neither binding nor sufficient to create the predicate for enforceable third-party beneficiary claims.

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