NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a stunning rebuke of a lawsuit filed by real estate developer Donald Capoccia against three low-income tenants, Judge Ellen M. Coin dismissed the action on Monday November 17, 2014. In dismissing the suit Judge Coin wrote "the complaint must be dismissed as the factual allegations it contains do not support a single cause of action it asserts." Judge Coin also ordered Capoccia to pay defendant's legal costs and disbursements.
In February 2014, Capoccia managing principal of the politically connected BFC Partners filed a $4.25 million defamation lawsuit through his company Madison Park Development Associates, against three Harlem homeowners over their complaints to elected and public officials about the shoddy construction and repairs to their cooperative.
"For the first time in months I can get a good night's sleep," said Judith Febbraro, one of the defendants named in the lawsuit. "Suing me for a million dollars because I complained about the substandard and dangerous conditions in my home was just unbelievable. You have no idea the stress this has caused me and the other homeowners. Judge Coin has reaffirmed by belief that here in America our freedom of speech is still a sacred right. I hope this makes clear Mr. Capoccia is a bully who tries to throw his weight around to scare and intimidate people."
Yetta Kurland, an attorney representing the tenants said, "This is a victory for these tenants and for others who feel intimidated by powerful real estate interests. The Court has made clear that it will not tolerate frivolous lawsuits meant to intimidate the public from complaining about unfair housing conditions."
The case was thrown out in a pre-answer motion to dismiss brought by the Kurland Group, a civil rights law firm representing the defendants, who are members of the community based tenants' rights group 'Justice for Homeowners'.
"Had this lawsuit been allowed to go forward, it would have had a chilling effect on not only hundreds of homeowners, but all citizens," said Ari Estrella of Justice for Homeowners. "So many of us have been trying for years to get our homes repaired and we have been stonewalled every step of the way. HPD refuses to take responsibility for their projects, the developers disappear and we continue to get the runaround from the City. Mr. Capoccia's attempt to silence us was just one more indignity that we have been forced to endure, said Estrella. "With this cloud lifted we can once again exercise our rights as Americans and demand action from our elected officials."
When the tenants wrote a letter to their elected officials to ask for help with chronic problems with disrepair, instead of addressing the problems, the developers demanded that the tenants retract their letter or face legal consequences. When the tenants refused to sign a letter prepared by the developer's attorneys that said that tenants had in essence falsified the facts surrounding almost twelve years of shoddy workmanship in the building located at 1831 Madison Avenue, Mr. Capoccia sued the tenants for $4.25 million. The tenants made a pre-answer motion in front of Judge Coin to dismiss the matter and the Court in a 14 page decision dismissed the suit and awarded costs and disbursements.
Madison Park Development Associates, headed by Donald Capoccia was awarded the HPD contract to develop 1831 Madison Avenue, a cooperative for middle-income New Yorkers. Completed in 2002, structural deficiencies were pervasive from the start, and despite promises and attempts to repair the problems, the structural deficiencies worsened, and still exist to this day.
SOURCE Yetta Kurland, The Kurland Group