The Real Deal New York

Lawsuit against BHS’ Carol Cohen dismissed

Agent says she was "deeply disappointed" by how Corcoran handled the issue
By Katherine Clarke | October 27, 2011 04:03PM

The lawsuit filed against former Corcoran Group star broker and now Brown Harris Stevens senior vice president Carol Cohen, which led to her reported dismissal from Corcoran at the close of 2010, has been thrown out, according to documents filed by the New York state Supreme court earlier this month.

The lawsuit, filed by Katz 737 Corp., the landlord at Cohen and her husband Lester Cohen’s apartment building, in 2010, alleges that the couple had repeatedly lied about their income on state forms in order to prevent a rent increase at their $3,060 per month apartment at 737 Park Avenue, between 71st and 72nd streets. The landlord claimed that they had reported their combined income as being less than $175,000 per year to avoid a rent hike at the unit, which they had lived in since 1989.

The dismissal rendered those claims insufficient to prosecute.

“The plaintiff’s complaint is completely baseless and fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted,” the decision says. “The court will not entertain such an action.”

Cohen, who for years had partnered with top Corcoran broker Deborah Grubman, told The Real Deal in a statement that she regretted how the suit had affected her successful career at Corcoran. At the time of her departure from the company, there was speculation that she had either been fired or asked to resign.

“I was deeply disappointed by how the matter was handled by Corcoran, resulting in the split with the firm and my partner Deborah Grubman after a long and fruitful relationship,” she said.

Grubman declined to comment.

“I am proud to have [since] joined Brown Harris Stevens,” Cohen continued, “whose management, culture and values embody what I believe to be the best in the business. Hall Willkie, [president of BHS] and Edward Lee Cave, [head of his own sales division at BHS], among many others have already made me feel very at home and I appreciate the warm welcome I have received.” She started at BHS a few months ago, a representative for the brokerage said, and is working out of the offices at 790 Madison Avenue. Willkie called Cohen “one of the industry’s most successful and knowledgeable agents.”

The complaint, which highlighted various press clipping about Cohen’s success, including one from The Real Deal , referenced various deals brokered by Cohen shortly before the suit, including the sale of an apartment belonging to Lachlan Murdoch, son of News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch.

“As one of the Wall Street Journal’s top 25 ranked real estate agents in the United States, noted to be in the top 1 percent of real estate professionals in America,” it said, “on information and belief Carol Cohen could not have earned less than $175,000 per year.”

Corcoran and Daniel Wollman, CEO of brokerage Gumley Haft Kleier, who acted as managing agent at the building and signed off on the complaint on behalf of the landlord, were not immediately available for comment.

As The Real Deal previously reported, developer Harry Macklowe purchased 737 Park Avenue in May in partnership with the Los Angeles-based CIM Group. At the building, a tenant two floors above Cohen is paying about three times as much rent, $9,900 per month, for the same-size apartment as Cohen’s.

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