Dolgetta Law

Can a Co-op Director be Held Personally Liable for Discrimination?

The Appellate Division, First Department decision in the case of Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. et al. v. The Dakota, Inc., et al. continues to be the subject of much discussion in the legal community. This case represents a wakeup call for every director of a cooperative corporation or condominium association alerting them once again that they cannot hide behind the “Business Judgment” rule when issues of discrimination are involved. The Appellate Court reversed a prior decision of the same court finding that a director’s participation in a corporation’s tortious behavior is sufficient to give rise to individual liability for the director.

The Iconic Dakota House

Arguably, the Dakota is the highest profile cooperative apartment building in the world. It is located at the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and was completed in 1884. The building is often credited as the one structure that prompted construction of numerous luxury apartment buildings throughout Manhattan. Following the murder of John Lennon at the entrance of the building on December 8, 1980, the co-op Board of Directors has reversed the history of celebrity occupants by refusing Billy Joel, Carly Simon, politicians and other high profile individuals. Through it’s almost 130 years it has been home to numerous celebrities including Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Rosemarie Clooney, José Ferrer, Roberta Flack, Judy Garland, Boris Karloff, Joe Namath, Gilda Radner, Jerry Seinfeld and of course Yoko Ono who reportedly still owns several apartments in the building. According to internet research, apartments in the Dakota range in price from $4,000,000.00 to $30,000,000.00. At the time this article was written, there were two apartments for sale in The Dakota, a three bedroom for $6,800,000.00 and a four bedroom at $14,500,000.00

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