Family members who have been fighting the hasty eviction of their loved ones from a notorious Park Slope old-folks now owe the owner $50 million for dragging his name through the mud, the landlord claims in a new lawsuit.
Prospect Park Residence owner Haysha Deitsch is suing five of the people he has been fighting in court since he tried to boot their wizened kin out of his tony Grand Army Plaza building two years ago so he could sell it for $76 million, claiming they have maliciously smeared his name and are really just trying to get their hands on the money he stands to earn from the sale.
“The Defendants have willingly and intentionally become part and parcel of a plan and scheme to bring numerous lawsuits,” reads the suit filed late last month, “with the purpose to interfere and prevent any sale of the Prospect Park Residence going forward unless they shared in the profits of any such sale, and to cause mental anguish and harm to Deitsch.”
The suit specifically singles out the daughter of a late Holocaust survivor, who recently filed a wrongful death suit claiming her dad died after the residence barred him from bringing his oxygen tank into the home and he had to leave.
Deitsch’s suit calls the claim “outrageously false and baseless,” but her lawyer maintains the eviction contributed to his demise.
“This guy, who was a Holocaust survivor, had to choose between going home and breathing,” said lawyer John O’Hara, who also represented the family of the late “Kung Fu” Judge John Phillips after he died at the facility, and has seven other wrongful death actions pending against Deitsch. “He perished because he was sad — he died of a broken heart.”
The high-profile court battles have been going on since Deitsch announced he was closing the home in March 2014 due to financial hardship and gave his 120-odd residents 90 days to leave — though this paper later revealed he had inked a multi-million-dollar deal to sell the building months earlier.
Most of the seniors did leave, but a handful refused to go, and their families sued Deitsch and the state — which rubber-stamped the scheme — claiming they weren’t given enough time or assistance to relocate their frail relatives.
The court ordered him to keep the place up and running for the holdouts, but the case became mired in sideshow battles after the residents claimed Deitsch was trying to force them out by hiking their rent and cutting amenities — depriving them of air-conditioning during the summer heat and serving up moldy food — and he and the state then refused to pay for a court-mandated temporary caretaker to step in.
But Deitsch’s lawsuit claims he is the real victim, and the stubborn family members should pay for ruining his big pay day and slamming him with “false and derogatory” allegations in the court room and the media.
Deitsch’s name certainly has taken a beating — Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) publicly called him “evil” while the judge ripped into him for crying poor when he secretly stood to make millions.
An attorney for the surviving tenants’ relatives says the claims in the suit are completely false, and the defendants’ rep will issue a response by April 15.
“We believe it is meritless,” said lawyer Jason Johnson. “The fact of the matter is, there is no basis for anything he has in there.”
Deitsch’s attorney did not return a request for comment.