Artist Lake Community Reporter
May 2, 2023
Managing Agent and Attorney Lose in Small Claims Court for Harassment and Bullying. They Appeal
David vs. Goliath: Condo Owner Takes Down Board of Managers, Their Property Manager and Attorney in Small Claims Court for Harassment and Bullying. They Appeal
On March 30th the Suffolk County 4th district court heard arguments from both the plaintiff, John Carricato, and the defendant’s attorney, Caryn Meyer. Mr. Carricato claimed harassment and bullying after the Artist Lake Board of Managers fined him $600 for arguing with another condominium owner on Jun 17th on condominium common property.
Mr. Carricato was fined under house rule: Article 6. Noise/Disturbing the Peace:
Section c. Any unit disturbing the community where the activity results in police activity to the unit for non medical emergency, will be subject to a fine. Fines can be doubled or tripled depending on the level of activity and/or use of force to restrain the resident/occupant….
Ms. Joann Riggio and Mr. Carricato had a verbal dispute. No one questions this. Ms. Riggio felt it necessary to call SCPD and file a report, one of many she has filed on Artist Lake Condominium resident in the past year. The police report stated, “they had a verbal dispute”. SCPD did not feel there was any need to question Mr. Carricato. Ms Riggio did not request any further action. Ms. Riggio apparently reported the incident to the board. Given Mr. Carricato’s efforts to hold the board accountable, they fined him $300 and doubled the fine, claiming this was warranted, since Ms. Riggio is a senior citizen.
Mr. Carricato filed an appeal with the board. The appeal was denied in a unanimous board vote. Mr. Carricato paid the fine and sued in Small Claims Court for harassment and selective use of fines.
Mr. Carricato claimed the condominium board is practices “selective use” of a fine to harass him, due to his community advocacy efforts, where he questions the board and their property manager.
A board is grant in the condominium bylaws, the power to make “reasonable” rules. Bylaws grants a board the powers to enforce reasonable rules. However, boards have an ethical obligation to work with residents to resolve house rule violations before levying fines.
Ms. Meyer tried to convince the arbitrator the board was within its rights to fine Mr. Carricato under house rule 6, section c). Mr. Carricato argued the board was overextending its power and being unreasonable in its fine. The arbitrator agreed. The arbitrator ruled in favor of Mr. Carricato.
NYS law allows for an appeal of an arbitrator’s judgement. The appeal to be heard by a judge. The Artist Lake Condominium Board decided to exercise their right to file a “trial de novo”, a new trial.
One must raise their eyebrows. There is NO lost cost to the Condominium Mr. Carricato has simply sued to be refunded his fine paid in full. The Artist Lake Board of Managers has chosen to pay the trial de novo fee and pay their attorney to represent them, an expense that is now likely in the thousands of dollars—YOUR CONDOMINIUM DOLLARS! The unethical nature of the Artist Lake Board of Managers and their managing agent make one wonder what are their true motives.
The trial de novo is scheduled for May 30th.