Litigation was the name of the game in real estate
The lawsuits were flying in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago
Aslanian, Michael J. Lerner, Michael N. Lerner
Baseball may be America’s favorite pastime, but litigation comes a close second.
To wit, in New York, Jarret Willis, a former Bespoke executive who is Black, sued the luxury brokerage for alleged racial discrimination and withholding commissions he claimed he is owed.
Willis also alleges in a complaint filed in New York Supreme Court that founders Cody and Zachary Vichinsky engaged in overtly racist behavior and allowed other employees to use slurs when addressing him, such as calling him “Jafar,” the villain from the Disney movie “Aladdin.”
Harlan Goldberg joined Willis in the suit claiming Bespoke owes him a larger share of commissions on deals in South Florida, including sales totaling $43 million at the high-profile Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences.
Bespoke, for its part, denies the allegations.
Meanwhile, Sam Boymelgreen’s 255 Butler Associates won a $36 million judgment, ending an eight-year legal fight between the developer and his landlords in Gowanus.
In another matter, Leslie J. Garfield broker Ravi Kantha and his wife, attorney Kathryn Kantha, have been sued by their next door neighbor for alleged property damage, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.
In the complaint, the couple’s neighbor, Joan Goldberg, alleges renovations on the Kanthas’ home damaged her property, including causing cracks in her walls, damage to her facade and air quality contamination from dust, debris and “noxious fumes.”
The couple, however, vehemently deny the claims.
“At the onset, the allegations against the defendants are outrageous and untrue,” an attorney for the Kanthas argued in an affirmation of support filed in response to the suit.
In Chicago, a family feud is playing out between Michael J. Lerner and his son, Michael N. Lerner. Lerner the elder is suing his son over a $2.3 million loan dispute. The father says the son defaulted on the loan, while the son claims the loan was to be paid back upon the closing of a $35 million property. Regardless, the Shakespearean drama unfolding in Cook County courts illustrates the “antagonistic history” between the two, according to court filings.
In Los Angeles, tenants have sued a landlord who, if the allegations against him are true, no one would ever want to know, let alone rent from.
Developer Arthur Aslanian has been sued by tenants for more than a dozen claims, including assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, for years of alleged abuse and retaliation.
The tenants claim Aslanian, who is being held on federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire and arson, refused to fix numerous problems with their rental units on the 11000 block of Hartsook Street. By allowing vermin to run rampant, plumbing to overflow with sewage, garbage disposals to remain clogged for weeks and black mold to grow on walls, Aslanian was attempting to drive out the tenants, according to the lawsuit. When tenants complained, Aslanian carried out a campaign of retaliation.
Ultimately, Aslanian allegedly paid someone $2,000 to set fire to one of his properties on Hartsook Street to get rid of those tenants, the LA Times reported.
Aslanian is also facing two charges of conspiracy to commit murder for trying to hire a hitman to kill two people to whom he owed a total of $3.2 million.
The developer, through his attorney, Melanie Killedjian, denied the allegations against him.
March Madness’ action on the court will be hard-pressed to match the drama in the courts this week.
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