Triumph of tenacity - Page 3

The Lembi empire teeters after tenants resisted a business plan based on forcing them out
Darin Dawson fought a CitiApartments eviction

"They're claiming that they have no money," Brian Devine, an attorney with Seeger Salvas LLP, told the Guardian. Devine estimates that he will end up representing several thousand tenants who are entitled to their deposits. In March, a judge awarded sanctions of $30,000 to Devine's firm because the Lembi Group refused to cooperate with discovery, withholding documents necessary for the case to proceed.

Herrera has encountered a similar recalcitrance in his own suit and won court sanctions of $50,000 in February for the same reason. "We have been engaged in discovery for a long, long time," noted city attorney spokesperson Matt Dorsey. "We're hoping that the judge is at the edge of his patience."

Singer said the problem was that there wasn't enough "people power" to photocopy thousands of documents. The Lembis were never up to any nefarious purpose, Singer insisted — they only wanted to make the buildings nicer. As for the tenants who endured the most brutal relocation tactics? "I can understand why they didn't want to leave," he said. "Some of them didn't leave — and they're still there."