Prospect Park Residence will pay $3.35M settlement to seniors it tried to evict

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The owner of embattled Park Slope old folks’ home Prospect Park Residence will pay his elderly tenants $3.35 million as part of a lawsuit settlement, ending a high-profile and sometimes ugly two-year court battle between the two parties.

The nonagenarians have been fighting eviction since landlord Haysha Deitsch and state health officials abruptly gave them three months to scram in March 2014, and while settling the suit means they’ll still have to leave, the payout will help them find and fund somewhere they can live comfortably, according to their attorney.

“Our clients have always been worried about having the time and resources to move to an appropriate setting that was safe and not unduly restrictive,” said lawyer Kevin Cremin of MFY Legal Service, one of several firms working on the case. “We think this settlement will provide both the time and money.”

The lion’s share of the cash will go to the five oldsters who are still living in the 134-unit Prospect Park West assisted living facility — who will then have three months to leave — while a small amount will go to 10 residents who have already left but were involved in the suit, Cremin said.

But this week’s settlement is bittersweet news for the residents, according to their loved ones — the tenants had hoped to live out their final days in the Prospect Park-side property, and don’t think they really will find a comparable abode elsewhere, even with the extra cash.

“I’m happy for my friend, but she and some of the other residents would rather stay,” said Nancy Rich, whose friend Anne-Marie Mogil moved into Prospect Park Residence just three months before she was told to leave. “It’s very traumatic to move, but that seems to be the only option.”

Mogil and her neighbors are just a handful of holdouts and their families who refused to take the facility’s marching orders lying down two years ago, and sued claiming its eviction plan was too hasty for such frail seniors, and didn’t offer them enough support in finding comparable accommodation.

A judge ordered Deitsch to keep the residence open during the case, but the battle became mired in sideshow litigation as the residents claimed he was trying to force them out by hiking their rent and cutting amenities — depriving them of central air-conditioning during the summer and serving up moldy food — while he filed a countersuit claiming their families were dragging his name through the mud.

A lawyer representing Deistch and the Residence said his clients are glad to finally put both matters to rest.

“We’re happy that component of the litigation involving the remaining residents has been resolved amicably,” said attorney Frank Carone.

But Rich also said she is holding off on any celebrations until they actually come through with the money.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” she said, quoting the late, great, Yogi Berra.

The lawyers say there are contingencies for that in the settlement, though — if Deistch doesn’t pay on time, he will have to give the oldsters even more time to move and cash, said Frederick Millett, another attorney representing the residents.

The court battles aren’t over, however — the residents and their families are also pursuing a suit against the state Department of Health for signing off on the eviction plan.

That case is still in its early stages, however, and isn’t about financial compensation — it is to get a court to decree that it was a crummy plan and force the state to make sure it doesn’t happen again, Millett said.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with more context.
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
We should all be thankful we live in a society governed by the rule of law, which insures some level of fairness and protection for vulnerable people and against public misfeasance. We need to end government facilitated illegal behavior by landlords.
June 1, 2016, 9:45 am
Jesse from Windsor Terrace says:
The current presidential race has revealed that money in politics has created the corrupt circumstances that have allowed a minority of select interests to purchase "our" representatives and to dictate the laws that are allowed to pass.

The elder abuse which occurred at Prospect Park Residence was enabled by "our" New York State Department of Health which allowed an unlicensed operator to endanger and contribute to the death of many helpless victims. It was complicit in enabling him to perpetrate fraud for which he will ultimately be vastly rewarded monetarily, even with the tip he is being forced to leave for a few of his victims as "punishment".

It is vital that the Department of Health is prosecuted for its crimes, which will highlight one more insidious way that money has stolen the democracy from the people of the United States.
June 1, 2016, 11 am
Fight Predatory Nursing Home Owners from Sheepshead Bay says:
For-profit assisted living and long term care residences are the (Albany) NYS Dept of Health's gifts to phony so-called "operators" that keep on giving.

The laws that permit churning & evictions (& yes our own city corrupt de Basio DCA agency lifting of deed restrictions such as Rivington House) speak to government sponsorship of harm to the disabled and frail elderly.

New Yorkers...your electeds-the legislators who continue to permit inadequate laws and NO enforcement that YOU keep in office need to be fired.

The growing and aging population in NY and most especially in Brooklyn-the Wild West of real estate predation-includes you and your loved ones...the time will come.

Don't wait till you're faced with little to no choices and with those 'homes' which are run by a de facto -well connected 'mafia'...licensed and certified to do harm.

Don't believe me...? Check out this ProPublica link from Oct 2015:
June 1, 2016, 11:55 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Hello readers, John Wasserman here. I, John Wasserman, just want to point out that these dear old folks need a place to live. Shall I, John Wasserman, suggest that they move them to the Watchtower? Pardon my interuption. John Wasserman
June 1, 2016, 11:59 am
Ericsson from Cobble Hill says:
I thought vultures are scavengers who feed on carcasses, not seniors.
June 1, 2016, 8:10 pm
Abigail from Park Slope says:
The seniors having to leave this residence are far from " low income". With the monthly rents at a staggering $4000/month and higher, they are financially stable enough to find a one bedroom apt. for almost half that amount and can pay for any assistance with the remainder of the funds they've been paying out to the residence. They're in a much better place than low/middle class seniors who, when have to leave, can't afford to go anywhere else.
However, I agree that most seniors do not like change and get quite agitated and confused when having to do so.
June 2, 2016, 10:18 am
Alice says:
You imply financial stability would somehow justify this end of life nightmare. It's not a matter of preference, nor agitation Abigail. Confusion, in this instance, is a sensible consequence of being fckd with, not a nuisance resulting from cognitive decline.
June 2, 2016, 9:42 pm
Vito from Ralph Avenue says:
The guy who owned this place was bad news.
June 2, 2016, 11:53 pm
Farrah from Bed Stuy says:
Yeah, such is life in our wonder city Alice thanks to gentrification . My mom who has been living in the same apartment for over 20 years now has to go. Owners are selling to cash in on their investment. If a family member can't take her in, she'll end up in low income housing or maybe a state run nursing home even though she can still fend for herself. No one likes to be fckd with but it happens all the time in a city that's become the most desirable place to live. Hell, nobody likes to be displaced if they feel they're not wanting to leave and got scr**wed but you have a leg up with financial stability. It determines your outcome on whether you end up in another decent residence or on the street. If only the low income seniors got this much attention and publicity.
June 3, 2016, 9:36 am
Jim from Greenwood Terrace says:
Definitely should have given the residents a year to relocate and treated them humanely through that time, but it was a privately owned residence. The owner wanted to sell, so you gotta go. Such is life.
June 3, 2016, 10:16 am
Christine from Windsor Terrace says:
Anyone who survives old age AND inflation should be respected and cared for.
June 3, 2016, 8:51 pm
Reggie from Prospect park Flatbush area says:
This story is so so sad. New York is turning into a place that is so money hungry with no regard for the elder and poor. I'm sicken at what I'm seeing it's very sad.

I'm very scared, I have no idea what's going to happen to me in the near future. I'm a young 61 year old.
July 22, 2016, 12:43 pm

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