Man Hit by Falling Air Conditioner Sues for $21 Million

Remember the guy who was hit by an air conditioner that came crashing down from the 6th floor of 65 2nd Avenue a couple of months ago? This morning, the tabloids are reporting he’s suing the owner of the building  for $21 million. According to court papers, 67-year old Anthony Franzese, a Vietnam veteran, “received emergency treatment for a skull fracture, concussion and other serious injuries to his head which caused permanent brain damage.”

Franzese had been battling his landlords, Zenon Chernyk and Areta Podhorodecki, in housing court for several years. He was evicted from a third floor apartment a week before the accident, after the owners wrote him a $25,000 check.  The Post excerpts from court documents:

“While being operated on, [Franzese] suffered a heart attack and went into a coma for several days,” and now “has permanent heart damage including a blood clot on the heart,” the suit says. The building’s owner, Zenon Chernyk, made several unwelcome attempts to visit Franzese while he was in the hospital, the filing says. “Initially these unannounced, uninvited, unauthorized ‘visits’ were when the plaintiff was still in a coma” the suit says. Franzese’s lawyer, Stuart Shaw, says he phoned, faxed and wrote the landlord demanding that he and his insurance people stay away from Franzese, but they still made multiple other attempts to see him, as well as several phone calls, the suit says.

The suit alleges that the owners failed to properly secure the air conditioner, in spite of many complaints from residents. Franzese is seeking compensation for “gross negligence”  and harassment. According to the News, “the landlords and their company were cited by the city Buildings Department for failing to safely maintain their building near Third St. They face up to a $25,000 fine at a hearing next week.”

The landlords accused Franzese of “squatting” in their building. Noting his history of mental disabilities, they alleged Franzese frequently complained about hearing voices from “outer space.”