A syringe, a bite, and now a ruling in ex-partners’ 10-year feud

Commercial Litigation

Case:

A decade-old New York real estate soap opera — involving, in part, a former executive allegedly biting an ex-business partner — came to a partial close last week. The Manhattan commercial division handed down a ruling last Wednesday in the sprawling legal battle between former United Realty executives Eli Verschleiser and Jacob Frydman. Judge Joel Cohen dismissed three of four counts in which Verschleiser, who was United Realty’s president, alleged that its former CEO, Frydman, committed fraud after a deal between them went south. The rift began in 2011 after Verschleiser and Frydman’s attempt to acquire 866 United Nations Plaza did not pan out. Verschleiser alleged that Frydman had used business entities for personal benefit. The pair then sought to end their working relationship by negotiating a purchase and sale to divide their assets. The agreement turned out to be anything but.

Result:

Last Wednesday Cohen dismissed the fraud and conversion claims, leaving one count for breach of contract. “Our [client’s] successful motion to dismiss means that our [client’s] defenses held water,” Leo Jacobs, Frydman’s attorney, said via email, adding that the remaining claim should soon be resolved in Frydman’s favor.



Media coverage: TheRealDeal

ZAVŌ Restaurant & Lounge

Commercial Litigation

Case:

After ZAVŌ Restaurant & Lounge stopped paying rent on its 15,000-square-foot space at 1011 Third Avenue in March 2020, landlord Olshan Properties sued to collect at least $795,000 from owner Ilya Zavolunov and his father Michael, who personally guaranteed ZAVŌ’s 15-year lease.

Result:

ZAVŌ’s lawyer, Leo Jacobs, argued that the default occurred only after the three-day grace period ended, which happened to be days after the city law went into effect. (Though passed in May 2020, the law was retroactive to March 7 and later extended through June 30, 2021.) The court sided with Jacobs and ruled in favor of the tenants in April, but Olshan filed an appeal. A state appellate court heard the case last week, and now the parties await their decision.


Media coverage:
TheRealDeal
Queens Daily Eagle

Developer Tomer Dafna hit with involuntary bankruptcy petition

Commercial Litigation

Case:

Two of Dafna’s creditors filed a petition for his involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy last week, citing $1.3 million in claims, court records show. But that number could balloon to more than $20 million if the parties behind numerous lawsuits and outstanding judgments against Dafna become creditors. The case against Dafna and his co-defendants is ongoing. Each man faces a $1 million fine and up to 30 years in prison if convicted.