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Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Resolves Townhouse Owner’s Dispute Over Neighbor’s Leaking Sewage Line Without Costly Litigation

Private townhouse owners in New York City encounter a number of unique challenges, not the least of which involve delicate negotiations with neighbors often separated by a thin party wall. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was recently engaged to help resolve a challenging dispute between its clients, owners of a recently gut-renovated single-family townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and their neighbors, a cooperative apartment whose basement abutted the townhouse’s. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s clients had noticed a disturbing odor emanating from their basement over the course of a number of days this winter. On further inspection, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s clients discovered that the area surrounding their basement water tank had been filling with a murky and foul-smelling liquid that would reappear rapidly despite regular draining. After investigating various sources, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s clients determined that the viscous liquid was most likely a sewage leak from the neighboring cooperative apartment building. Despite placing calls to 311 and a visit from the New York City Health Department of Health that confirmed the sewage appeared to be leaking from the client’s neighbor into the townhouse basement, the cooperative building refused to address the issue, fearing a costly remediation that might include replacing sewage pipes buried beneath its concrete basement floor.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was hired to aggressively pursue remediation and commence litigation as needed to stop the dangerous sewage leak. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. quickly arranged site visits with its engineer at both the townhouse and cooperative building, reviewed all relevant DOB records, contacted 311 and the Health Department, and communicated repeatedly with the cooperate building’s managing agent and superintendent, including delicate negotiations to resolve the dispute without litigation. Within days of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s engagement, the cooperative building committed to tear up its basement, expose the sewage line, and replace any faulty pipes. As part of our negotiations, the cooperative building authorized Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. to observe the cooperative building remediation and consult with its plumber and managing agent on the extent of necessary repairs to ensure its client’s safety and security. 

The following week, after digging a trench more than two feet deep and 15 feet long in its basement, the cooperative building’s plumbers discovered that its main sewage line was irreparably cracked and replaced the entire line with modern tubing.  Almost immediately, the moisture in Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s client’s basement subsided and did not return. The complete remediation, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, was entirely funded by the cooperative building with no cost to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s clients.  

By pursuing aggressive negotiations with full knowledge of building codes, health department rules, and engineering norms, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was able to quickly resolve this potentially thorny dispute without litigation and at limited legal costs to its client. As New York’s premier real estate litigation firm, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. prides itself as much on its success in meeting its clients’ needs under budget and without litigation as on its successful record in court.

Adam Leitman Bailey and Eric Askanase represented the townhouse owners in this matter.

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