“Wise Choice, Judge Says, Now Forfeit $4.7 Million”

I was drawn to read this whole article in the Times, by Charles Bagli, because it concerned a derailed co-op apartment purchase. And, as you all know, I’m deeply involved in a lawsuit concerning my co-op.

But I read on because the piece highlights a few points. First, a rich lady who balked at finalizing a purchase of a $18.75 million co-op because “an inspection turned up what she felt were some grievous shortcomings: missing cooktop grates, shower enclosures and a microwave; unfinished floors; and a lack of heat, hot water, gas and air-conditioning” lives on that surreal planet of the 1 percenters. (Do I dare direct a finger at Mitt Romney here? I dare.)

And then I realized that the lawsuit which she lost (thus, the “forfeit $4.7 million” contract) offers a lesson in reading legal documents you sign. Because Ms. Campbell, the losing plaintiff), “‘may have made a wise lifestyle decision to abandon her purchase at the Mark Hotel,’ Judge Pauley wrote, but the language of the ‘one-sided’ sales contract made it clear that the developer was entitled to the money.”

So although the piece (read it here and it’s worth it not just because it dishes on rich people and their crazily overpriced real estate dealings but because of Bagli’s delicious language) is supposedly about the burst real estate bubble, to me it’s about reading, or having a really smart lawyer read and explain, every document you sign.

And maybe her lawyer, Amos Alter, did explain, and maybe she didn’t listen to him. Indeed, the judge, William Pauley, “observed that lawyers on both sides ‘acted myopically’ for ‘transactional lawyers in the business of closing deals’ for not trying harder to salvage this one — which led to three years of litigation, 150,000 pages of document discovery, 16 depositions and a full trial.”

P.S. There are some apartments to be bought at the Mark Hotel.

P.P.S. My own co-op litigation has gone on for five years, thousands of pages of discovery, many hours of depositions and is looking at a full trial.


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