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April 28, 2010

Goldstein's attorney responds to Gilmartin's quote that sticking point in settlement was money: "This is an absolute untruth."

Atlantic Yards Report

Eminent domain attorney Michael Rikon wrote a letter to Stephen Brown of the Brooklyn Paper regarding the article (misleadingly) headlined Ratner exec: Goldstein was in it for the money! Gilmartin: 'He was in it for the money!'.

I read your story in which you quote Forest City executive [MaryAnne] Gilmartin saying "the sticking point was how much money he wanted." This is an absolute untruth.

I know that you were in court. After the argument, ESDC’s attorney asked for a conference. The reason was simple: its papers were defective as a matter of law. It could never obtain an eviction order on the Order to Show Cause it presented for a Writ of Assistance. We had a conference before the Court, first together and then individually. At this point is was only me. My son Joshua joined me much later as he was finalizing an Order to Show cause for Judge Gerges’ signature on another case.

The amount of money was calculated based on what our appraiser had indicated would be the fair market value of the Goldstein Condo, it also included amounts representing the estimated cost for temporary housing, moving storage and moving the stored items back to a final location together with relocation benefits as required under the Uniform Relocation Assistance Act. It also included my firm’s legal fees and an amount representing the two-week factor to vacate.

ESDC and Forest City had three law firms in Court that day with about 20 other employees, executives, in-house counsel and consultants. When it went into the Judge’s robing room, there were at least six lawyers.

After each session as negotiations progressed, we each conferred with our client. It is impossible for Ms. Gilmartin not to have known what was happening step by step.

The money never really changed. The amount was agreed to early in the process, perhaps within the first half hour.

What took six hours was Forest City’s insistence that Daniel Goldstein agree never to say a word about the project. His response was that he would never agree to waive his First Amendment rights for ten million [dollars] and would leave if that was a condition.

I report that to the Judge and he spoke to Daniel. When the Judge realized the caliber of the man in front of him, he agreed that it would be wrong to condition a settlement on such a waiver. Thereafter, the language which was made part of the settlement was drafted by the judge and agreed to.

In short, Forest City should be ashamed of itself for planting statements it knows were false. It is unseemly for a large developer to act in such a mean and vindictive manner. This conduct does not reflect well on it and tarnishes the fine reputation it once had for dealing fairly with condemnees.

When we left the Court, I told Daniel that I was proud to represent him. I still am.

Michael Rikon

(I've cleaned up a few typos in the note from Rikon and link to my Rikon disclosure.)

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Posted by eric at April 28, 2010 12:12 PM