Property Grunt

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

James Bond getting sued

According to this article a downstairs neighbor is suing Sean Connery for $30 million dollars for being a bully.

Dr. Burton Sultan, an ophthalmologist, lives with his wife and daughters on the lower four floors of a six-story Tudor townhouse, built in 1869, on Manhattan's East Side. Connery and his wife live on the top two floors.

Sounds like a nice place.

Court papers claims the Connerys' renovations, which began in September 2001, are a source of constant noise, foul fumes, water leaks and a rat infestation. The lawsuit claims damage to the Sultans' home extended to their collection of Victorian and early 20th century wicker furniture.

I am not sure if this place is either a co-op or a condo but for either places you need to get approval from the board or the condo association to do work on the apartment. The co-ops I know demand architecture plans and a licensed contractor to do the work and can only commence when the board or co-op association gives the greenlight.

The lawsuit also claims the famous upstairs neighbor is harassing the Sultans "by playing loud music at all hours and stomping about." On April 7, 2002, one of the Sultans' daughters knocked on Connery's door and requested quiet. "Connery's appearance and behavior was that of a rude, foul-mouthed, fat old man," court papers say. "Cursing and otherwise using indecent language Connery demeaned Marla's father, refused to lower the noise and slammed the door in her face."

This not unusual. From the Grunt's experience knocking on a door and asking someone to quiet down is tantamount to telling them to have sexual relations with their mother. It is a declaration of war.

It sounds like they have a solid case.

The court papers say the Connerys also owe $15,747 in maintenance and utility payments — another ploy "to harass the Sultans into leaving their home."

The lawsuit includes a letter, purportedly from the Connerys' lawyer, Robert P. Lynn Jr., stating: "I think if we tie him up in several lawsuits, hopefully this will either permanently subdue him or drive him out of the building."

However Connery's lawyer is quite correct that lawsuits can be used as an effective weapon. Lawsuits are effective weapons not because of the judgements because they force the other party to expend resources in dealing with the lawsuit. It is basically a war of attrition and the victor is the one who has the most money and endurance. Remember, lawyers charge by the hour unless they make a deal with their client.

Will this get resolved quickly? This entry should answer your question. If it takes over two years to get a dead beat tenant out of a building, it's going to probably take longer for Sultan to resolve this

I remember a case involving Joe Weider who was being sued by one of his employees who was a famous body builder. Joe would employ body builders as labor and as models for his magazines. However he never paid them for their model work and he never had them sign disclaimers. This body builder was very popular and sued Weider for a large amount of money. Now this man was in the right, morally and legally. But Weider's lawyers went at him tooth and nail and even though the body builder stood to make millions he took a settlement of several hunder thousand dollars because he was tired of dealing with lawyers and going to court. Although Sultan is a doctor who probably does very well, Connery has alot of dough and power behind him so Sultan could end up as the one legged man in an ass kicking contest. However the publicity doesn't really help Connery.

Unfortunately some celebrities neighbors can be trouble and are often rejected by boards so celebrities usally opt for condos since they need no board approval and can do what they want without the scrutiny of the board.