By Sabina Mollot
Last October, residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who were represented in the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action lawsuit saw a second wave of payouts from the initial $68.75 million pool.
Now it’s likely that there will be a third round of checks, according to Michael Liskow, who’s one of the attorneys representing tenants from the firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz.
As a condition of the second payout, if there was more than $100,000 left after a deadline for checks to be deposited passed, then there would be another distribution. If there was less than $100,000 left, then the remaining funds would be split among two local nonprofits, the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Little League.
The 120-day deadline has already passed for most of the recipients but attorneys won’t know the exact amount that’s left in the pool until around March 15. This is when the deadline will have passed for all eligible class suit members. However, as of this week, there was over $150,000 left, Liskow said.
The second payout was $442,738, distributed to 1,973 tenants in what’s been referred to as the “current tenant pool,” with an average payout of $224.40 per tenant. Those tenants were only eligible for the second payout if they’d deposited their first check and if their initial check was for more than the minimum payout, which was $150. Those who’d filed for damages from the former tenant pool, meanwhile, have already gotten 110 percent of their claims, which is the maximum amount they were entitled to receive, Liskow explained. Current tenants, since there were so many more of them, did not get as much.
Liskow guessed that the people who never cashed their settlement check may have moved from their last known addresses, although he said efforts were made to reach those people and get current address information.
“We made (the notice) a postcard to try to be as obvious as possible that it’s not junk mail, but unfortunately a lot of advertisers do the same thing,” said Liskow. “That’s why we tried to publicize it as much as we could.”
He strongly recommended anyone who hasn’t deposited a settlement check, if it isn’t 120 days since the check was issued, “do it as soon as you can.”
As for what one can expect to get in a third distribution, it would be different for each tenant, based on what they received in the original payout, which is based on a complicated formula determining how much they overpaid. There won’t be legal fees coming out of a future distribution, though the Berdon Claims Association, which is overseeing the distribution of funds, would receive $12,000 with the rest being distributed among the recipients. Liskow said he suspected even if there is a third payout, the little league and the Tenants Association will still receive some money.
Additionally, despite there being some money left over at this point, Liskow said this settlement was distributed better than in most class action suits.
The lawsuit over rents being illegally deregulated by former owners Tishman Speyer and Met Life resulted in a $173 million settlement in 2013 to former and current tenants ($68.75 million in cash and the rest in the form of rent reductions).
Council Member Dan Garodnick, a “Roberts” tenant himself, cheered the news of the likely payouts.
“We are eager to get all damages owed to tenants paid as quickly as possible,” Garodnick said. “This has been a long road and I’m glad there is still more money in the till.”
If any class action members have a question about the settlement, Liskow recommends they call the Berdon Claims Association at 1-800-766-3330 or fill out an email form online.