In 2015, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was hired by a shareholder to defend him against a Pullman action where the building’s board of directors vote to evict a shareholder from the building. This looming threat of eviction from the couple’s Upper East Side co-op apartment, which their son had been occupying for over twelve years caused the shareholder to turn to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. for assistance. Over the years, the shareholder had run into trouble numerous times with the co-op board and various residents of the building. Issues ranged from fights, screaming matches in the gymnasium over petty issues and an all out screaming match with residents for various activities. This shareholder was charged with abusive behavior, accused of loud parties going into the morning, improper treatment of building employees and constant fights or arguments with shareholders in the building. In addition the shareholder had been accused of breaking gym equipment in a fit of rage. The shareholder was diagnosed with behavioral problems and put on medication which may or may not have been taken by the shareholder.
As a result of these actions our clients received a letter from the co-op’s board of directors indicating that the board would be holding a meeting to consider and vote on termination of the client’s proprietary lease on account of their daughter’s “objectionable conduct.”
Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. immediately sprung into action to defend against the board’s allegations, obtaining letters of reference from other residents in the building to counter the board’s claims, and scouring the minutes from board meetings dating all the way back to 2001 for information establishing that the client was being unfairly discriminated against by the board. For starters, the board never sought input from the client as to her alleged bad acts over the years. Rather, the board simply deemed the complaints it received against our client’s interests as credible accounts of what transpired without any further investigation to verify the veracity of such complaints.
In addition, a review of the board minutes revealed a number of relevant truths: (a) a number of residents had been reported to the board for repeated violation of the co-op’s house rules for pets in common areas of the building and no action had been taken against those residents; (b) the resident who filed complaints of excessive noise from our client’s apartment had a history of filing noise complaints that follow-up investigations proved as being baseless, including one complaint of noise from alterations in our client’s unit when in fact workers had not been in the apartment for ten days; (c) the board handled noise complaints against other residents differently than those against our client, including advising complaining parties to report noise violations to the police for recourse and, in another instance, advising the complaining party and the alleged offending party to resolve the dispute through mediation through the New York City Bar; and (d) one of the board members received a maintenance abatement for the two-month period that the board member’s apartment was deemed uninhabitable after a malfunctioning pressure reducing valve ruptured and flooded the apartment. Our client did not receive any maintenance abatement for the time period their apartment was uninhabitable due to the flooding that resulted at the hand of the building’s superintendent.
Speaking with the adversary’s attorney he explained that the vote would be unanimous to evict our client from the building. Ultimately, the fate of our client’s apartment depended upon an effective presentation by Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys at the board meeting held to consider and vote on whether to terminate the client’s stock and lease based on their daughter’s alleged objectionable conduct.
The trial before the board, held at the adversary’s law firm, asked Adam Leitman Bailey to present a defense for his client. Bailey first noted to the board that they were going to evict a fellow shareholder from the building without hearing any testimony from any complaining witnesses. The board was reminded that no other shareholder going back over a decade ever had to endure a Pullman trial where its neighbors would decide who would stay or go. Bailey reminded the board that there had been tons of complaints against residents and many had to go into mediation or meet with board members or even pay a fine, but no shareholder ever had to sit through a trial to evict instead of any of these other remedies. Bailey also noted that most of the allegations mentioned in the Pullman notice failed to be recorded in the board’s minutes or corporate documents. Bailey noted that the Police had never been called to intervene and that most of the allegations included an alteration between two people where no third party was able to witness what had happened. In fact the one of the worst alleged incident included another shareholder doing illegal conduct via its dog using the wrong elevator and our client simply told her the rules. Bailey stated that no one is perfect. That his client made mistakes and has also increased her visits to medical professionals and her dosage of medication to make sure she behaves in the building.
Bailey concluded by discussing the Salem Witch Trials and our society and the people in the building. Should a board of directors without hearing any witnesses and without really knowing the truth of the facts really rule on the fate of a neighbor? Should the board of directors, whose parents or grandparents many of whom lived or died in the Holocaust be deciders of the fate of another? Does not everyone deserve another chance to do the right thing? Do we have compassion for those who are diagnosed with medical issues concerning their emotional state? Does the coop want to enter a multi-year war in court over facts that do not deserve an eviction?
Somehow, the vote was unanimous. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. succeeded in delivering an effective and persuasive presentation of our client’s rights as shareholders in the co-op, including, in particular, identifying the reality of the facts revealed during Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s investigation of the co-op’s records, and underscoring that these facts would never hold up in court to justify the co-op’s extreme action of terminating the client’s stock and lease. The board decided not to vote on the proposed termination of the stock and lease, and our client no longer worries of losing the place he has called home for over twelve years.
Adam Leitman Bailey and Rachel M. Sigmund represented the shareholder in this matter.