Without concrete documentary evidence to rely on, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. faced an up-hill battle demonstrating that a shareholder failed to reside in his Mitchell-Lama Cooperative as his primary residence. With a relentless and methodical cross-examination, however, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. succeeded in exposing the shareholder’s numerous lies.
Initially, the management company referred the case to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. to recover the apartment after it suspected the shareholder was not actually residing in the apartment. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. began its prosecution of the case by providing the shareholder with an opportunity to submit documentation proving that he did, in fact, reside in the apartment as his primary residence. The shareholder submitted several letters with documentation to prove primary residence.
Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. did not have extensive documentary evidence connecting the shareholder to an alternative residence. Although the shareholder jointly owned shares with his wife in another cooperative unit, the shareholder maintained that his wife resided there, and that they had been separated for over a decade but never legally divorced. The shareholder also had two vehicles registered at the alternative address, but explained that one vehicle was actually used by the shareholder’s son and the other was leased as a business car. A quick searching revealed that the shareholder did own a business registered to this alternate cooperative unit.
Unconvinced with shareholder’s submissions, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. commenced a case at the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (“HPD”). Because the apartment is subject to the Mitchell-Lama regulations, an evidentiary hearing on the question of primary residence must be held before an Administrative Hearing Officer.
In response, the shareholder retained counsel to represent him at the hearing. Without substantial documentary evidence, the success of the prosecution rested on the cross-examination. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys memorized every detail of the case to expose the shareholder’s contradictions and misrepresentations. Through extensive and methodical cross-examination, the shareholder’s lies were exposed one after another. First, the claim that the car being leased for “business purposes” contradicted a previous explanation from the shareholder that the car was actually used by the shareholder’s wife. When questioned, the shareholder had no credible explanation for this. Second, when pressed on cross-examination about the purported son’s use of the second vehicle, the shareholder could not give a credible explanation demonstrating that the son actually used the car and reimbursed his father (as the shareholder claimed).
Furthermore, Adam Leitman Bailey P.C. attorneys methodically broke down the shareholder’s claim that he was separated from his wife for over a decade and, therefore, did not reside in the alternate cooperative unit with her. It became obvious that the shareholder’s claims were not credible given his obfuscating answers on cross-examination. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys pressed on, destroying the shareholder’s credibility. By the end of the two day hearing there was no question the shareholder did not live in the Mitchell-Lama apartment as his primary residence.
This case is not only a victory for the Landlord and Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., it is a victory for the people of New York. Mitchell-Lama Cooperatives are government subsidized and exist to provide low and middle income families with affordable housing. With this success, a family that actually intends to reside in the apartment can now have an affordable and well-maintained place to live.
Christopher Halligan from Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. prevailed in the case.