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Heatless in Battery Park City: Mega-developer keeps apartments at icy temperatures throughout winter; Sanford Heisler files $100 million class action lawsuit in New York Supreme Court on Behalf of Freezing Tenants

NEW YORK, April 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The LeFrak Organization, one of the largest landlords in New York City, put the deep freeze on thousands of Battery Park City residents during one of the coldest winters in recent memory. That is the accusation at the heart of a class action lawsuit filed today in Supreme Court, New York County by the law firm of Sanford Heisler, LLP.

The class action suit is brought by Maureen Koetz, a resident of the neighborhood's Gateway Plaza, a development with over 1,700 rental units in the heart of lower Manhattan. Ms. Koetz, a former vice-president of the Gateway Tenants' Association, describes how temperatures inside the complex regularly dropped to below 55 degrees this winter as well as past winters.  An inspection of several apartments on March 4, 2014 revealed that cold air streamed in freely through the windows and air conditioning units. Residents say that their windows are so faulty that on cold days frost accumulates on the inside of the windows and has to be cleared by the tenants themselves so that it does not cause water damage.

"LeFrak did not live up its obligations as a landlord during one of the worst winters in recent memory," said Jeremy Heisler, a founding partner of Sanford Heisler LLP, and a managing partner of the Firm's New York office. "Under New York law, a landlord warrants that the premises are fit for human habitation, but the Gateway tenants found themselves shivering in their own homes."

Jenifer Rajkumar, Lower Manhattan's elected District Leader and also a Sanford Heisler attorney litigating the case, stated: "The situation is doubly outrageous because LeFrak continually increases the rent on Gateway tenants while failing to meet its most basic obligations to those very same tenants." The complaint alleges that in order to make their units even remotely tolerable, tenants were required to provide supplemental heat through portable heaters.

Gateway Plaza is a group of high-rise apartment buildings located at 345, 355, 365, 375, 385 and 395 South End Avenue, New York, New York. In addition to the LeFrak Organization, the lawsuit names as defendants Marina Tower Associates, L.P., Gateway Plaza Management Corp., and the Battery Park City Authority.

The suit seeks recovery of rent and electricity overpayments as well as an injunction requiring Defendants to rectify Gateway's defective conditions.

About Sanford Heisler

Sanford Heisler is a public interest law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam and other civil rights matters. The firm has extensive experience in complex class action litigation having successfully represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents select individual clients with a particular emphasis on the representation of executives and lawyers in employment disputes and whistleblowers. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. In 2012, the firm settled a wage and hour case on behalf of sales reps employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million. For more information, contact Sanford Heisler at (646) 402-5650 or (202) 495-5400.

For more information, contact Erika Freed, newsPRos, 917- 969-0708; [email protected]

SOURCE Sanford Heisler LLP

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