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Memorable Cases

By John M. Desiderio


“We represent a lot of condo boards and coop boards in the usual corporate issues they have with residents of the building, whether bylaws are being observed or not. And we also represent the other side of that coin – we represent individual coop shareholders and condominium owners who have problems with the rules and regulations of the board. Sometimes a lot of boards act sort of arbitrarily and our clients have problems and we need to take care of them.

I have also been involved in a lot complex litigation real estate cases, involving title issues, mortgage issue. And I think that the real turning point for me came in 2009 when following the financial crisis a lot of people had signed contracts to purchase condominiums, realized that the value of what they purchased was going to be less than what they were actually committed to pay. And Adam and this firm, we were, I guess we discovered something called the Interstate Land Sales Act which had been passed as a relief act for condominium owners some time in the 60s. And it’d really been overlooked and never used in all that time because real estate markets kept going up and up. And the act, federal statute, had very strict requirements of disclosure, disclosures that had to be made to purchasers of condominiums. And, in New York, the condominium capital of the world, basically at that time, and I think it still is, the offering plans had overlooked the requirements of that statute.  So we made use of that statute and we brought a number of cases, we weren’t the only firm doing it, but we were fortunate enough to get some of the very first rulings that favored the condominium purchaser. It was like the revolution that occurred. Now, as a result, we won a number of important decisions and the decisions themselves were not as important, other than the fact that we obtained them, but because of the emphasis that was made on the Interstate Sales Act and the focus that was given to it, we were able to obtain a lot of settlements for our clients. And we probably got a lot more settlements out of this than actual litigated cases. Since then, of course, Congress amended the statute and that’s something that’s not going to be heard of again. But my point is that when we did these cases, we took this issue on, there was a challenge, first people that we talked to, even lawyers of our firm even mentioned what we were going to do, we thought we were crazy because it went against the grain of what people understood about real estate law and purchase and contracts of sales. So we were successful. But my point is that, it was like a turning point for this firm, you could see almost immediately how the firm was considered on a higher level. We had gone to that higher level. And we’ve not really stopped since then.

Clients come to us that have unusual problems, problems that are complex and that require a lot of intellectual – I guess you would call it Clients come to us that have unusual problems, problems that are complex and that require a lot of intellectual – I guess you would call it – brainstorming: what are the best things we can do for this client, what are the things in the law that may have not been used before that we can use for this client. How can we convince a judge that our client has been wronged and the law should work in his favor not against him.

Well, there are many firms and many attorneys that do that, there are others that shirk away from hard type of cases. Cases that may take a little bit longer to take to complete, cases that require a lot more, let’s call it, legal sweat equity to really understand, to discover the key to a case that’s going to make it win or lose.”

Related Attorneys

John M. Desiderio

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.

NEW YORK REAL ESTATE ATTORNEYS