In Sultan v. Connery , New York County Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman addressed an array of claims that had been filed against Sean Connery (of James Bond fame), his family, lawyers, and contractors for repair work performed on the Connerys' condominium. Playing the role of " Dr. No ," Justice Friedman dismissed a large chunk of the case and chastised the parties for their "slash and burn" tactics.
(We wouldn't have expected less from the former "spy.")
The Sultans and Connerys share a two-unit condominium townhouse in Manhattan. In 2001, the Connerys undertook renovations to their unit and sought the Sultans' approval to repair the roof. Eventually, the parties submitted their dispute to arbitration and the arbitrator allowed the Connerys to proceed with the work, but directed that the Sultans be compensated for damage incurred during the renovation process.
Dissatisfied with that outcome, the Sultans filed a series of civil lawsuits and a summary eviction proceeding against the Connerys. (Those cases were dismissed for various defects.)
The Connerys countered with six lawsuits of their own against the Sultans -- seeking to enforce the arbitration award, appoint a receiver, and evict the Sultans. Particularly galling to Friedman was the Connerys' attempt to start a suit in Nassau County, rather than in Manhattan where the property was situated. And, the Connerys reportedly violated a court rule by failing to list all of the parties' related litigation on a form which had been filed with the court when one of the lawsuits had been filed.
In this latest chapter of this saga, the Sultans sued the Connerys and their contractors for personal injury and property damage resulting from the 2001 repair work, and also asserted a claim against the Connerys' lawyers for frivolous litigation practices. The Connerys, on the other hand, asked the court to dismiss the case, to prohibit the Sultans from filing additional litigation, and for an award of sanctions.
While the Court dismissed most of the relief sought by the Sultans, either for failure to state a legally cognizable basis for relief or because the matters had been addressed in prior litigation, a few claims against the Connerys, and some of their contractors, were allowed to survive.
Interestingly, the Court sanctioned the Sultans and their counsel for frivolous practices, and awarded attorneys' fees to the contractors whose work had been performed prior to 2001. (Since a "time bar" or "statute of limitations" applied, any relief sought against those parties was not viewed as meritorious.)
Justice Friedman declined to award attorneys' fees to the Connerys, or to reimburse their counsel for the latter's own defense costs. And, while the Court refused to prohibit the Sultans from further litigation, it ordered the parties to disclose all prior lawsuits to the court clerk should either side opt to file another case in the future.
Finally, and most importantly, Justice Friedman urged the parties to mediate their differences in order to "restore normalcy to this most unfortunate situation in which the neighbors have wholly lost the ability to cooperate" with the other.
While that was certainly sound advice, it ain't likely to bond ... James Bond.
To download a copy of the Supreme Court's decision, please use this link: Sultan v. Connery
Special thanks to our friend, Gines Pasamonte, for flagging this case to us.