The Dakota's co-op board sure does know how to attract controversy. Take, for instance, the recent accusation by developer Robert Siegel, who says that the board wined & dined him for six years, until the statute of limitations for filing a fraud lawsuit against them passed as they strong-armed him for over a decade from moving into a duplex he purchased in the building.
While that case is ongoing, the board has finally cleaned their hands of another that's plagued them since 2011: the New York Times reports that a Manhattan judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought by former Wall Street wiz Alphonse Fletcher Jr., who alleged that the co-op board is just plain ol' racist.
Fletcher, who served as the co-op board's president from 2006 to 2009, brought the lawsuit after the co-op board refused his request to purchase an apartment adjacent to his home in the building and claimed that his request was denied by the board because he's black. Fletcher had plenty of powder in his canon; the co-op board has a long history of racist allegations. Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas were famously rejected from purchasing a ground-floor unit in the building alongside rumors that the co-op board said that Banderas, a Hispanic, was only interested in the ground floor unit so he could more easily buy drugs on the street. A later accusation against the board cited that they made a running joke out of their move to deny black hitmaker Roberta Flack's request to install a new bathtub (Flack listed her Dakota pad in June.)
Despite the board's dicey history, the judge found that there was not enough evidence of discrimination to warrant a jury trail. "Fletcher's subjective, unsubstantiated belief that his race played a role in the board's denial of his application is insufficient to establish pretext," Justice Rakower ruling reads. The co-op board stands by their allegation that it isn't Fletcher's race, but his finances that stymied the sale. The board formerly called Fletcher's statement of his net worth "unrealistic," saying that the banker only had $50,000 in liquid assets to his name which would make his acquisition of the $5.7 million fifth floor apartment, in short, a bad idea. Fletcher's lawsuit became doubly complicated when both of his lawyers withdrew, citing unpaid legal fees and irreconcilable differences.
After Fletcher was initially denied the apartment, it showed up on the market as part of a $19.5 million assemblage listed by a former co-op board member along with her bordering apartment. Although the lawsuit stinks from all sides, Fletcher said he will appeal the ruling on the grounds that the judge excluded critical evidence, like a 126-page affidavit including emails that Fletcher says supports his allegations that the board members conspired against him.
· Suit Accusing Dakota Co-op Board of Bias Against Blacks and Hispanics Fails [NYT]
· Dakota Co-op Board Accused of Being a Bunch of Racists [Curbed]
· Has Lawsuit-Sparking Dakota Apartment Found a Buyer? [Curbed]
· Dakota Co-op Board Attacks Finances of Accuser [Curbed]
· All coverage of Alphonse Fletcher Jr. [Curbed]
· All coverage of The Dakota [Curbed]