What would Goldfinger think of this one? Jaws would know how to handle Burton Sultan here. Where is the Coase Theorem when you need it? You will not see me at the 2008 ASSA meetings in New Orleans. I will make my comeback in 2009 in San Fran. Have a happy new years!
New York Times
December 29, 2007
Actor and Neighbor Told to Stop Suing Each Other
By CHRISTINE HAUSER
As James Bond, the actor Sean Connery fought off villains and spies. But now, a Manhattan judge is calling the shots.
In a decision made public this week, Justice Marcy Friedman of State Supreme Court told Mr. Connery and a neighbor, Burton Sultan, to stop their bickering over renovations at the Upper East Side town house they share.
“Regrettably, both parties to this dispute have engaged in a slash-and-burn litigation strategy that has at times been duplicative and exceedingly burdensome to their adversaries and the courts,” she said.
To rein them in, she imposed administrative oversight over any further litigation by both parties, which means that they must get the court’s permission before suing each other again.
The decision, dated Dec. 7, was the latest twist in the legal tussling involving Dr. Sultan, 72, a Manhattan eye doctor, and Mr. Connery, 77.
The Sultan and Connery families have clashed in a series of lawsuits and complaints, some dating back to 2001, over renovations to an 1869 town house at 173-175 East 71st Street that has been declared a landmark; it was converted into two condominiums in 1986.
Dr. Sultan, who owns the condominium on the lower floors of the building, claimed that renovations and roof repairs on the Connery unit, on the upper floors, had damaged his home and injured family members, including a daughter, Marla Sultan, and a grandson. The Sultans said that the renovations had caused foul odors, water damage and cracks, and that the work was carried out in a way meant to drive the family out of the building. They are seeking financial compensation for their damages.
The Connery unit is owned by Stephane and Tania Connery, Mr. Connery’s son and daughter-in-law, and occupied by Mr. Connery and his wife, Micheline. They have countered with claims that the Sultans have interfered with necessary repair work.
Mr. Connery’s lawyer could not be reached on Friday for comment on the judge’s decision, and his publicist did not return a call. Dr. Sultan’s lawyer did not respond to a message left on an answering machine.
In her decision, Justice Friedman said that most of the claims by the Sultans had been dismissed. One, alleging that the Connerys were neglecting to pay common charges, is being handled by a receiver, the judge’s decision said.
Justice Friedman said some of the damage claims had been handled by an arbitrator. “The Sultans’ continuing opposition to the repairs which were ordered by the arbitrator has unquestionably necessitated litigation by the Connerys,” she said.
On the other hand, the Connerys filed six lawsuits against the Sultans and “continually forced them to litigate,” she wrote.
Finally, she urged them to seek mediation.
“The court cannot imagine that it is not the goal of both the Sultans and the Connerys to restore normalcy to this regrettable situation in which the two neighbors have wholly lost the ability to cooperate in the management of the building in which they or their family reside,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the litigation, as it has been conducted, is interfering with, not advancing, that goal.”