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Seward Park Co-op and Insurance Company Settle Garage Collapse Lawsuit

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The Seward Park Co-op announced this afternoon it has ended a long legal battle with Greater New York Mutual Insurance Company over the 1999 collapse of a parking garage.  Back in 2004, a jury awarded the cooperative $18 million (including interest). But the insurance company successfully appealed, and at various times during the past decade, demanded the return of millions of dollars from Seward Park.

Another trial was ordered, which was scheduled to begin sometime this year. But a few months ago, Co-op President Michael Tumminia reached out to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a life-long LES resident who once lived in the Seward Park complex. Silver, in turn, contacted the superintendent of the New York State Department of Insurance.  After investigating the matter, the superintendent ordered both sides to enter mediation.

Following a series of tough negotiating sessions, the co-op agreed to return $3.25 million to New York Mutual.  The settlement is slightly less than the amount an appeals court ordered Seward Park to repay in 2009, but far less than the insurance company had been demanding in recent years.

Tumminia told us a short time ago the co-op is grateful to Silver for his intervention and “extremely pleased” the ordeal is finally over. He called the legal dispute a “huge albatross” that has been lifted and said, “we can now plan for our future without the terrible anxiety that this case has caused us.”  As Seward Park prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, he said, the settlement is a “great gift.”

Seward Park is the largest of the Grand Street cooperatives, consisting of more than 1700 apartments. The garage was rebuilt several years ago. Miraculously, no one was hurt in the accident.

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