Skip to main content

Timetable for modular lawsuits gets stretched out; battle over disqualifying law firm

According to documents filed with the state Supreme Court, the various parties in the dispute over the stalled modular factory run by affiliates of Forest City Ratner and Skanska have agreed to an extended timetable regarding their three lawsuits.

In the case related to the shutdown of the modular factory, and whether Forest City can unilaterally reopen it, the parties have until 12/22/14 to file papers. In the cases related to the responsibility for the cost overruns, the parties have until 12/9/14 to respond to each other's legal filings.

Battle over disqualification

Meanwhile, today the case is scheduled to go before a judge on a related matter: the attempt by Skanska to disqualify the firm Troutman Sanders from representing Forest City in the modular dispute, as Troutman represents another part of Skanska's family of businesses.

Skanska earlier denied Troutman a requested waiver to proceed. (Here's a summary from Law 360 based on a preliminary set of legal papers.) The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 am (or after) at state Supreme Court, 60 Centre Street in Manhattan, Motion Submission Part Room 130.

Troutman's argument

According to a memo from Troutman:
Skanska Building does not assert any risk that Troutman could use confidential information obtained from its representation of the Skanska Southeast-managed joint ventures [part of Skanska Civil] to the disadvantage of Skanska Building in the instant litigation. Nor does Skanska Building articulate any way in which Troutman’s representation of FCRC in this litigation impairs Troutman’s ability to represent the Skanska Southeast-managed joint ventures in an objective and appropriately zealous manner. Rather, Skanska Building’s motion boils down to a basic proposition that Troutman should be disqualified because anyone who is adverse to one member of the Skanska family must be deemed adverse to every other member of the family.
Troutman says that the Skanska parties adverse to Forest City are not Troutman’s “client” for the purpose of analyzing conflicts of interest, so it would be unfair to Troutman "but more importantly" to Forest City--which has a longstanding relationship with an attorney who joined Troutman in August--if Troutman had to leave the case.

Skanska's argument

Skanska alleges sneaky behavior and suggests that Troutman is trying to improperly separate the three cases:
Before Mr. [Aaron] Abraham ever joined Troutman, the firm knew of the conflict issue and they said nothing. After Mr. Abraham joined the firm, Troutman said nothing until the Friday before Labor Day, because Forest City, with Mr. Abraham, was busy advising and/or drafting a complaint which Forest City planned to file on the first business day after Labor Day. Indeed, even as Skanska specifically advised Forest City that no conflict waiver had been granted, Troutman participated in a "Skanska Litigation" conference call, subsequent to which a Forest City affiliate sued Richard Kennedy, a Skanska Civil Director, asserting ad hominen allegations and making certain to serve him with process, in the dark of night, in front of his wife and young children. Troutman then continued to participate as co-counsel, over Skanska's objection, and did not file an appearance in any action until Skanska Building's Counsel wrote to the Court requesting a Commercial Division Rule 24 pre-motion conference. Thereafter, appearances were filed in all but the Kennedy Action. As to this, Troutman's attempt to segregate the Kennedy Action from the others by claiming that the actions and issues are distinct, is not an argument which can be advanced in good faith. A simple reading of the complaints and the RJIs demonstrate the intertwined nature of all three proceedings. There is also a motion to dismiss filed by Forest City in this action, in which it relies upon terms of the Limited Liability Agreement, under which Forest City commenced the Kennedy Action. Indeed, if the "distinctness" of the two proceedings is the benchmark of disqualification, then disqualification is a certainty.
Skanska also argues that Skanska Building and Skanska Civil are closely related affiliates and notes that, Troutman, in communications with Skanska Civil, identified this situation as a "conflict" but now calls it a "business risk."

Given rules requiring loyalty to a client, in this case, Skansa argues that "Skanska Civil, Skanska Building, and Richard Kennedy share a unity of interest and as a result, Troutman cannot enter into an adverse representation to Mr. Kennedy and Skanska Civil's related sister company."

Beyond the "abhorrent" service of Kennedy at home, rather than in his office,"the nature of Forest City's litigation strategy has attempted to undermine the Skanska brand," Skanska argues, sugesting that the public would likely "be unable to determine a meaningful distinction between Skanksa Civil and Skanska Building, but would rather see the entities jointly as corporate parts of the 'Skanska' brand."


  1. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Look who's hiring -


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…