Dirty Deeds Redux

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dirty Deeds Redux

It's taken over a year but part of the cat is out of the bag, as reported by Jessica DiNapoli in this week's Southampton Press Western Edit­ion, Page A3 :

Plant is ordered to move buildings

Referenced is the Carnevale/Schiavoni con­crete operation on the upper end of Hazelwood Avenue in Westhampton Beach, long subject of contentious litigation between the Village, the property owner and the lessee.

After the subject was tangentially raised at the Trustees January Work Session, Ms. DiNapoli apparently sensed the bigger story, and with Village Attorney Hermon Bishop as her primary source, reported same.

(OtBB had tipped this back in December 2007, but awaited action from either the Bar Association or District Attorney to whom State Supreme Court Justice Mel­vyn Tanenbaum had referred the matter for possible sanctions regard­ing Kelly & Hulme, P.C.:

"...the Trustees voted to appoint Village Attorney Hermon Bishop to represent the municipality in this action, and based on Mr. Bishop's professionalism in the much more complex 'Dirty Deeds' lawsuit in front of Judge Melvyn Tanenbaum....")

Ms. DiNapoli managed to elicit some terse comments from Attorney James N. Hulme, most tellingly (as far as he went):

"[He] explained that, in 1997 and 1998, that he had filed some of the deeds that made claim to Hazelwood Avenue because 'Ms. Carnival believed ... that [she] had ob­tained ownership' of the land in question.'

'The judge came to a different conclusion,' Mr. Hulme continued, adding that he no longer represented Ms. Carnevale."
The rest of the story...

What Judge Tanenbaum did, after seven days of testimony from a myriad of witnesses (in­cluding some pricey experts on behalf of the Village, was halt the proceedings, direct Mr. Hulme to remove himself as the Carnevale at­torney, and indicate that he was referring the files and transcripts to the Bar Association and the D.A. for possible action.

And there it has stood 'til now, with the news that the Village once again officially owns all of upper Hazelwood Avenue, and that someone on the other side is now obliged to fork over $10,000 in "damages" to the municipality.

Who's on the hook for the ten grand is but one of several questions which requires an answer:

  1. How much is the Village out-of-pocket for legal and expert fees in this matter? (Several sources knowledgeable about these matters have suggested that $10,000 is less than a fifth of what Westhampton Beach has had to spend to defend title to its own property.)
  2. Who dummied up the discredited docu­ments showing private ownership of portions of Hazelwood Avenue?
  3. What hangs over the head of those re­sponsible for this unseemly business?

This one ain't over!


1. Paramarine said...

Were the damages part of a ruling, or were they part of a settlement?

If the damages were part of a ruling, I would expect that attorney's fees and expenses, separate from damages, would be recoverable. I would also expect recovery of fees and expenses to be included as a part of any settlement agreement.

I couldn't get much of an answer out of the Mayor on this very issue this afternoon, so I'll direct the question to the Village Board Thursday evening. Stay tuned.

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