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Material Plaintiff

Postby TenantNet » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:32 am

Every so often a landlord-tenant lawsuit arrives on our doorstep that makes us chuckle.

So here's a decision issued just last week on a case brought by Madonna (yes, that one) against the co-op board of her unit's building at One West 64th St.

Ciccone v One West 64th Street Inc.pdf

I don't know why this was important as she actually lives on the Upper East Side. But as many new entitled millennials of the Upper West Side feel these days, the rules don't apply to them.

This attached decision involved a legal fee hearing to see which side (usually the "prevailing party") has their legal fees paid for by the losing party. In this case, Madonna lost, she really really lost; her clock was cleaned. See this article (below) for the underlying case from back in 2017. https://www.6sqft.com/judge-throws-out-madonnas-lawsuit-against-upper-west-side-co-op/

This new decision revolved around if the plaintiff (Madonna) could require an in-person hearing to determine the legal fees she would have to cough up. Defendant co-op board was OK with conducting the hearing by videoconference due to the extraordinary circumstance of being during the COVID pandemic.

This decision was written by well-know Justice Gerald Lebovitz, author of many papers on landlord-tenant court practice and more recently, three article on the new 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act. For that, see our Forum post at http://www.tenant.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=13981 with links to the actual articles.

Not immediately evident, it seems Madonna hired Stuart Shaw (of the form Shaw & Binder and for whom the phrase "turning beet red" was invented), a well-known landlord lawyer. What he often does is make the phrase "burying the opposition in paper" a practice that looks quaint. Judges - who have to read through all the drek - hate this.

Years ago, Shaw represent my landlord, Lloyd Goldman (a seeming Stepford-Wife of Donald Trump tactics and one with a similar-looking fru-fru hairstyle) in a SLAPP Suit that dragged on for sixteen years. Shaw would regularly drop legal papers that went on and on for hundreds of pages. I was told that no set of papers leaves his office unless three attorneys have read every work (and which can be billed to his landlord clients). It's not enough to wear-down the opposition; he must make sure the judges' eyes glaze over.

So while our natural sympathy would be for a resident fighting an intransigent co-op board. But even putting aside Madonna's billions, the fact that she stupidly hired Stuart Shaw to represent her, creates a possible logic for cheering on the board. For what she likely will have to pay Stuart Shaw and the co-op board lawyers, she could have just bought another building in which to stuff her "cherished personal effects" and any underage kids who haven't reached majority.

See the Sept. 2020 decision attached.

Judge throws out Madonna’s lawsuit against Upper West Side co-op
September 2017, by Annie Doge

Madonna’s real estate saga may finally be coming to an end after a Manhattan judge on Thursday threw out the lawsuit the pop star filed against her Upper West Side apartment building, known as Harperley Hall. The “Vogue” singer sued the co-op board of her building at 1 West 64th Street in April of 2016 after they attempted to enforce a rule that prohibited members of her family or staff to be in the home without Madonna physically present (h/t Page Six). The judge dismissed the star’s suit because she filed two years after the co-op created the rule, in April of 2014, missing the deadline to proceed with legal action.

Madonna first bought the Manhattan pad for $7.3 million in 2008 and no stipulation about guests being in the home existed at the time. The co-op voted for the rule change in 2014 with a two-thirds of shareholders in favor. The updated lease said no one under 16 years of age could reside in the apartment unless an adult over age 21 was present.

Madonna said she was never told about this new rule. Court papers filed last April said: “Plaintiff is desirous of having her daughters, sons and/or maid and/or governess and/or caretaker reside in Unit 7A, whether or not Plaintiff is physically present in Unit 7A.” And: “Plaintiff is a world-renowned recording artist, performer and singer who is constantly on world tours. As such, Plaintiff owns many residences around the world and travels extensively worldwide.”

Despite her fame, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovits wasn’t buying it. In his ruling released Thursday, he wrote that Madonna “had four months from April 2, 2014, to commence…a proceeding. But [she] commenced this action on April 1, 2016, more than two years later.”

Problems with her 64th Street apartment building actually started years earlier when she first purchased it in 2008. At the time, she also owned a duplex in the building that she shared with ex-husband Sean Penn. Apparently, Madonna used the pad as a private exercise studio and rambunctious parties, resulting in a lawsuit from her upstair’s neighbor.

While she later sold her party pad for $16 million in 2013, it doesn’t appear she’ll sell this one anytime soon. She called Unit 7A a “place I call home. It is there that I have my cherished personal effects and property such as artwork, paintings, sculpture, special furniture and the like.”
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