Thursday, July 13, 2017

NYC Complex in High-Profile Suit Regarding Pitbull

In a complaint filed last week in Manhattan Supreme Court against Michelle Kelban-Carteron, the board of the Chelsea Modern condominium alleges that the co-chair of Latham & Watkins’ real estate practice committed breach of contract by owning and harboring an aggressive pit bull in her unit. Kelban-Carteron has retained high-profile local real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey. The latter claims this case is one of discrimination, plain and simple.

“I call this dog racism,” Bailey said. “Because of [the dog’s] breed, they’re going after it.”

Luna, the five-year-old pit bull mix in question, has lived in Kelban-Carteron’s unit along with the Latham lawyer’s husband, Gregory, since they bought into the condo in 2012. In June, Luna allegedly attacked a small dog in front of the condo. Shortly after this incident, Kelban-Carteron secured certification deeming Luna a service dog for her husband. A doctor’s note claims the dog provides emotional support following a cycling injury. Bailey confirmed that Carteron was allegedly being hit by a postal service truck while riding in Manhattan and sued the Federal Government.

In response to suspicions about Luna’s last minute service dog certification, Bailey said that his client’s dog has not been aggressive in the past, so there had been no reason to officially certify Luna in order to protect her.

Herbert Cohen, a name partner at New York’s Stiefel Cohen & Foote, is representing the Chelsea Modern condo. Cohen called Luna vicious and claimed he has accumulated evidence suggesting that the canine has been unruly for at least a year. He also said that Luna’s alleged aggression is not the problem at hand.

“The dog issue is a subplot,” Cohen said. “The main issue is that there is a byline that empowers the condo board to exclude the dog.”

The condo board claims in court documents that according to the contract that Kelban-Carteron signed when moving into her unit, the owners of the building may order that any pit bull be evicted from the premises.
Bailey believes that the complaint against Kelban-Carteron over Luna is a classic case of discrimination worthy of more press.

“I’m confident that the New York City Human Rights Commission will take this case and prosecute,” Bailey said. Cohen, the condo board’s lawyer representing the Chelsea Modern, believes this will be an open-and-shut case, with none of the drama that Bailey predicts.

“It should be a simple case,” he said. “The board in its discretion decided to exclude the dog and there’s no reason the dog shouldn’t be excluded.”


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