Tenants of the Battery Park City apartment complex Gateway Plaza, in New York City, filed a $100 million class action lawsuit April 1, accusing landlords of subjecting tenants to extremely cold temperatures, and failing to provide adequate insulation. The class action lawsuit accuses the companies in charge of the apartment complex of illegally profiting from the excess electricity needed by the plaintiffs in the case, as their landlords purchase electricity from Con Edison and resell it to tenants.
The approximately 5,000 tenants in the multi-building complex who make up the class have endured “oppressively cold conditions” indoors, due to the sub-par insulation, leaky windows, and poor heating and ventilation system in Gateway Plaza, below 55 degrees in the winter, according to the class action lawsuit.
“Gateway is a poster child of uninhabitability,” the plaintiffs allege. “The units are poorly constructed, inadequately insulated, and riddled with defects in the heating and ventilation systems.”
Tenants of the Gateway apartments allegedly relied on duct tape and foam strips, and towels under windowsills, to mitigate the cold air and dampness from leaking windows, says the Gateway Plaza class action lawsuit, causing rot in adjacent drywall and forcing lead plaintiff Maureen Koetz and the other tenants “to unreasonably utilize their heating systems and their own space heaters to create habitable temperatures.”
Even though the defendants — Marina Tower Associates, L.P., Gateway Plaza Management Corp., The Battery Park City Authority, and The LeFrak Organization — “failed to maintain units fit for human habitation,” alleges the class action lawsuit , they continued to increase the rents they charged on the units, and to profit from the increased power usage. Plaintiffs claim this amounts to unjust enrichment in the class action lawsuit, and are seeking damages of overpayment of electric charges and loss of use of rented space, and injunctive relief against the four companies named as defendants.
The Gateway apartments class action lawsuit claims that the “structure of the Gateway Plaza buildings provides no insulation for the Apartments and the units’ metal framed windows transform the building into a conductor for the cold in frigid weather,” and that the complex lacks internal heating mechanism. The defendants provided tenants with an external heat pumping device “to insert into a hole in the units’ walls,” but that they “lack the capacity to effectively maintain a habitable temperature” and the companies that manage Gateway Plaza “improperly install these heating devices in tenants’ units, allowing cold air to flow freely through the crevices where they meet the wall.”
Koetz and other tenants complained frequently about the energy bills and the heating systems, according to the class action lawsuit, which alleges “Defendants have failed to address” the complaints and “In February 2012, the LeFrak Organization informed tenants that all of their heating units, insulation, and windows would be repaired or replaced by December 2013. However, as of January 2014, Defendant failed to install any new windows, provide any insulation repairs, and barely 200 of the 3,500 heating units have been replaced.”
Plaintiffs are represented by Jeremy Heisler, Jenifer Rajkumar and Jennifer Siegel of Sanford Heisler LLP.
The Gateway Plaza Class Action Lawsuit is Koetz v. Marina Tower Associates LP, Case No. 651023/2014, in the Supreme Court of the County of New York.
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