If you read one story about a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against a Manhattan co-op board today, forget the Dakota and check out The Appraisal column about the Trafalgar House in Carnegie Hill. There, a couple alleges that the East 90th Street building's leaders held up their renovation requests and booted one of them off the co-op board because they hate Hispanics. In fact, they claim "Hispanic employees of the building have been instructed not to look Caucasian owners in the eye, but rather to look down towards the floor when speaking to a non-minority owner." But that's just one intriguing plot line in this sordid saga.
The same family was sued for $1.6 million by their downstairs neighbor, a suspended lawyer, for noise complaints such as "footsteps of a child running across a floor." They turned to legendary and hilariously mustachioed Fox 5 "Shame, Shame, Shame" investigative reporter Arnold Diaz, who confronted the neighbor outside the building. The segment never aired, but lordy, did it have an impact!
The neighbor filed another lawsuit for $52 million, alleging "intentional infliction of emotional distress." A judge dismissed the case, but that's when Evelyn Bruni was dismissed from the co-op board for bringing negative attention to the building. The Brunis filed their discrimination lawsuit in 2009, and though they were eventually allowed to complete their renovation, the suit lives on. The Trafalgar House's board president denies the discrimination allegation, adding that "the board currently had a gay board member and two members with Hispanic partners, and that he, too, was an immigrant, from Canada." Hold on a second: Lowly Canadian immigrants can now ascend to the lofty heights of Manhattan co-op board leadership? How far our society has come!
· East Side, West Side, Bias Claims Abound [NYT]