Victim of Farragut Houses stabbing sues NYCHA for negligence

farragut houses
A Brooklyn woman is accusing NYCHA of negligence after she was brutally attacked at Farragut Houses last year.
Photo courtesy of Prsly16/Wikimedia Commons

A Brooklyn woman is suing the New York City Housing Authority for negligence after she was brutally attacked at Farragut Houses in Downtown Brooklyn last year. 

According to a suit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week, 26-year-old Sophia Rostom was visiting a friend at the Bridge Street complex on March 28, 2023, when a “known intruder” entered through an unlocked door and stabbed her 14 times as she waited for the elevator. 

Rostom’s lawyers — John Morgan and Moses Ahn — said the medical technician and mother lost nearly half of the blood in her body and spent more than a week in the intensive care unit at NewYork-Presbyterian hospital after undergoing emergency surgery on her heart and lungs.

police cars farragut houses
Police cars outside Farragut Houses after a 2020 shooting.File photo by Colin Mixson

Nearly a year after the attack, Rostom “suffers from severe physical and psychological trauma” from the incident, her lawyers said, and they believe NYCHA bears some blame for the attack for failing to secure the door through which the alleged assailant, Maurice Brister, entered the building. 

“All landlords – from the owner of a single home residence to the nation’s largest public housing authority – have a responsibility to ensure residents and guests will be safe,” Morgan and Ahn said in a statement. “What our client suffered is a terrifying example of what can happen when landlords allegedly fail in that duty. Ms. Rostom’s injuries forever altered her young life and derailed her career. Nearly a year after this tragic incident, she remains unable to return to work and has yet to fully recover.”

According to the lawsuit, Brister entered Farragut Houses through an “unlocked, unsecured, broken, and/or inoperable door.” Brister allegedly stabbed at least one other woman the day Rostom was attacked.

In 2018, a study conducted by the New York City Comptroller found that 23.5% of entrance doors at nearly 300 NYCHA complexes – including Farragut Houses – were unsecured, per the lawsuit. At Farragut Houses, 80% of doors were unsecured.

At that time, the office urged NYCHA to repair and replace broken doors, regularly inspect doors and locks, and ensure that maintenance workers promptly fix broken or obstructed doors.

However, a 2022 study by the comptroller’s office found that things had only gotten worse, with 40% of entrance doors across NYCHA properties left unsecured — including at Farragut Houses, where 100% of entrance doors were reported to be unsecured, with 90% of locks broken and 90% of doors open.

broken doors NYCHA
The 2022 study found that more than 40% of entrance doors at NYCHA properties were left unsecured. Photos courtesy of the NYC Comptroller’s Office

The Comptroller again recommended repairs and regular inspections — and urged NYCHA to “conduct a top-to-bottom review of its security and maintenance systems and procedures” to ensure quick responses to broken or obstructed doors. 

The suit argues that NYCHA, despite being informed of the dangerous conditions at Farragut Houses, failed to act – and that the attack and Rostom’s injuries were a result of NYCHA’s “carelessness, recklessness, negligence, and culpable conduct.” 

New York City’s Law Department, which represents city agencies in court, referred Brooklyn Paper to NYCHA for comment. A NYCHA spox said the agency does not comment on litigation. 

NYCHA has previously admitted it has a responsibility to provide functional, locking doors at its developments.

“This lawsuit is about more than getting justice for Ms. Rostom,” Morgan and Ahn said in a statement. “NYCHA needs to take immediate steps to improve safety, not only for the 3,000-plus residents of the Farragut Houses, but also for all 360,000 residents of its properties and its guests.”