Gateway Plaza Residents Class Action
Case name: In re Gateway Plaza Residents Litigation
Case type: Public Interest Litigation
Filed in: [New York County Supreme Court]
Docket: [Case no. 651023-2014]
On April 1, 2014, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Maureen Koetz and approximately 5,000 tenants of the Gateway Plaza housing complex against Marina Towers, Associates, L.P.; Gateway Residential Management; The Lefrak Organization, one of the largest landlords in New York City; and the Battery Park City Authority, alleging violation of the warrant of habitability under the New York Real Property Law.
The Complaint alleged that the Gateway Plaza apartments, a group of high rises comprising over 1,700 units in the Battery Park neighborhood of Manhattan, were riddled with structural defects and poor insulation that caused such frigid conditions in winter that the apartments became uninhabitable. The Complaint further alleged that Defendants were profiting from their own faulty construction: namely, by purchasing electricity from Con Ed and then re-selling it to tenants who, due to the frigid conditions in the apartments, were forced to buy heaters and pay for additional electricity.
The Complaint, which also alleged unjust enrichment, sought monetary and injunctive relief, including repayment for electricity over-charges and refunds or abatement on rent.
On April 23, 2014, the Court ordered Koetz v. Gateway Plaza consolidated with a separately filed class action on behalf of tenants, Stoebel v. Gateway Plaza. The consolidated litigation became In re Gateway Plaza Residents Litigation, with Sanford Heisler Sharp as co-counsel with Newman Ferrara LLP and Safirstein Metcalf LLP.
In February 2016, the Court dismissed the action for unjust enrichment against Gateway Plaza Management, and the matter proceeded as per the claims against Marina Towers for violation of the warrant of habitability under the New York Real Property Law and breach of the lease agreements.
During the litigation, Marina Towers and Gateway Residential Management took significant measures to improve the buildings and units at Gateway Plaza. In October 2019, the parties reached a settlement in which Marina Towers agreed to pay the plaintiffs $10 million in cash or rent abatement, and institute a Contractual Rent Increase Limitation agreement.