New York Apartment Dwellers Sue Over Sandy-Related Damage

Tenants of an apartment complex in Manhattan’s Financial District sued their landlords over claims they failed to protect the property from extensive flood damage during Hurricane Sandy.

Residents of the towers at 2 Gold Street and 201 Pearl Street alleged that the buildings’ manager, TF Cornerstone Inc., was negligent in preparing for the storm and in protecting the 849-unit property from looting.

As much as 15 feet (4.5 meters) of water from the storm entered the property through a parking garage entrance and flooded the buildings’ basements, according to the complaint filed yesterday in state court in Manhattan.

“No sandbags were placed in front of the entrance to the parking garage, nor were any other effective precautions taken with respect to the garage entrance and the perimeter of the property,” according to the complaint, which was filed on behalf of all residents in the towers.

Salt water damaged the boiler, electrical switchboards and a 20,000-gallon oil tank located 30 feet below ground, which ruptured and spilled oil into the floodwaters, according to the complaint. The complex was evacuated before the storm hit on Oct. 29. TF Cornerstone has told tenants the buildings cannot be reoccupied until at least March 1, according to the complaint.

Gas Masks

The plaintiffs, Michael Cashwell and David Barker, said in the complaint that they have seen workers in hazardous materials suits and gas masks at the property.

Tenants returning to retrieve personal property have seen many apartment doors unlocked and wide open with “numerous” items of personal property missing, according to the complaint.

Representatives of TF Cornerstone, a Manhattan development and management firm, didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment. On a website for the property, TF Cornerstone said that the buildings continue to be staffed 24-hours-a-day. The company said its staff members are entering apartments to remove trash and items from refrigerators and check gas and plumbing fixtures.

“Please be assured that security has been, and will remain, our paramount concern,” the company said on the website.

On a marketing website, the complex is described as “the centerpiece of Manhattan’s fastest growing residential area,” with amenities including a 24-hour concierge, pool, roof deck, solarium and fitness center.

The case is Cashwell v. 2 Gold LLC, 158155-2012, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York (Manhattan).

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