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May 15, 2009 11:42 AM

Trump Strikes Back in Co-Op Fight

Posted by Nate Raymond

Earlier this week, we told you about a curious lawsuit in New York brought by the co-op board of Manhattan's Trump Plaza seeking to evict Donald Trump's company from its premises. The suit claimed Trump Corporation failed to pay rent totaling about $87,000 over the last two months. The Am Law connection was Andrew Perel, who, when not heading Trump Plaza's co-op board or suing The Donald, is an environmental law partner at Steptoe & Johnson.

Never knowing Trump to be one to back down from a fight, we were hardly surprised when we learned that his company fired back on Thursday. In a new suit, also in New York Supreme Court (download the document here), Trump's lawyers accuse the cooperative corporation of shoddy repairs to roofs and drain lines that allowed water to infiltrate two townhouses it rented. Now the houses are plagued by structural problems, mildew, and conditions perfect for mold growth, the suit claims.

Trump's lawyer, Jeffrey Goldman of Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, also says the co-op board's earlier suit is inaccurate, as Trump has paid the rent. He also claims they sued the wrong entity in the vast Trump empire.

"The rent has been paid," Goldman says. "The co-op board apparently purposely named the wrong tenant. Trump Corporation is not the tenant, and there have been years of horrific conditions which are in fact the obligation of the cooperative corporation."

Oh, and in contrast to that $87,000 plus interest Perel and the co-op board were seeking, Trump's suit asks for more than $18.1 million in damages.

We reached out to Perel yesterday but haven't heard back yet. He had previously told us, though, Trump's lease is "not a very favorable lease if you're the tenant" and expected to evict The Donald's company. Trump Plaza Owners, Inc., the cooperative corporation, is represented by Kenneth Citron of Snow Becker Krauss in Manhattan.

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It appears that somebody has inaccurate rental records in the Trump Plaza case. For the co-op board of Manhattan's Trump Plaza to claim that the Trump Corporation failed to pay rent totaling $87,000 over the last two months, while Trump's lawyer, Jeffrey Goldman, claims that Trump has paid that rent indicates that the case can be decided by both sides showing the court their records of rental payments of the Trump Corporation. Based on these rental records, then, the court can decide whether to rule in favor of the co-op board or the Trump Corporation.

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