‘Roberts’ payments delayed again

Tenants Association President John Marsh (pictured last fall) alerts tenants to the latest delay in "Roberts v. Tishman Speyer" payments. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The ST-PCV Tenants Association (President John Marsh pictured last fall) alerted tenants to the latest delay in “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” payments. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Residents and former residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who were waiting for their checks from the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” settlement will have to wait a while longer.
The second distribution of payments, this time the damages CWCapital is responsible for paying, has been delayed, the ST-PCV Tenants Association announced on Wednesday.
The Tenants Association, while not a party to the class action lawsuit, alerted neighbors in an email on Wednesday at the request of the “Roberts” attorneys.
“The delay is attributable to complexity in the claims administration process, but is expected to be a short one,” the TA said it was told by attorneys.
This is the second delay, with the first one being in the fall for tenants’ payments from Met Life.
Lead attorney Alex Schmidt of the firm Wolf Haldenstein told Town & Village the latest delay was due to a couple of reasons, the first being that CWCapital believes that many tenants owe back rent, which would be taken out of the damages, and the other was that many class members filed claims after the May 15, 2013 deadline.
“If they’ve expressed a good reason for filing late there no reason not to pay them,” said Schmidt. But, he noted, with each new claim, the amount of damages that’s spread among the pool changes.
The portion of damages former owner Met Life was responsible for, which is considered a separate pool from the CW damages, was paid at the end of last December.
Though he wasn’t sure when those owed money by CW would be paid, there “shouldn’t be an extended delay,” Schmidt said. He added, “We’re still ahead of where most class actions are. It’s rare to get distributions done within even a year of a settlement being approved.”
Out of a $173 million settlement for tenants in apartments that were illegally deregulated by former owners MetLife and Tishman Speyer, close to $69 million will be paid out to tenants. The rest of the money is in the form of rent savings.
Unlike the Met Life payments, in which class members received 110 percent of what they owed, there won’t be 110 percent payments for the CW payments for current tenants. There will be 100 percent of the overpayments paid back minus legal fees and expenses. This is because of how many current tenants (or specifically those owed money by CW who still lived in ST/PCV on May 15, 2013) ended up filing. (Current and former tenants are also in separate pools.) Current tenants filed for their damages at a 99 percent rate of eligible class members while over 50 percent of former tenants in the class filed.
Schmidt said for a class action suit, this was a “very good” result. He also noted that current tenants, while getting a smaller payout, also get the settlement’s benefit of rent savings. So, he reasoned, “It’s not inequitable.”
As for the tenants who CW believes owe back rent, there are quite a few out of the 11,800 people who filed claims. Schmidt didn’t have the exact number available, but said, “CW’s calculations turned out to be far more complex than anyone anticipated.”
Those who are not believed to be in arrears with their rent will be paid first, and those who are will still receive a portion of their damages. To get any amount that’s in dispute, the tenant or former tenant will have 45 days to object.
“If they’re not accurate I’m sure there’ll be a lot of objections,” said Schmidt, who says he plans to negotiate any claim of payment owed with CWCapital or if the parties fail to reach an agreement, ask the court to resolve the matter.
A spokesperson for CWCapital did not yet return a request for comment.