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By Ruth Brown
The owner of embattled Park Slope old folks’ home Prospect Park Residence will pay his elderly tenants $3.35 million as part of a lawsuit settlement, ending a high-profile two-year court battle between the two parties.
The money will help the nonagenarians — who have been fighting eviction since landlord Haysha Deitsch and state health officials abruptly gave them three months to scram in March 2014 — find and fund somewhere appropriate to live, according to their attorney.
“Our clients have always been worried about having the time and resources to move to an appropriate setting that was safe and not unduly restrictive,” said lawyer Kevin Cremin of MFY Legal Service, one of several firms working on the case. “We think this settlement will provide both the time and money.”
The lion’s share of the cash will go to the five oldsters who are still living in the 134-unit Prospect Park West assisted living facility — who will then have three months to leave — while a smaller amount will go to 10 residents who have already left, Cremin said.
But the settlement is bittersweet news for the residents, according to their loved ones — the tenants had hoped to live out their final days in the Prospect Park-side property, and don’t think they will find a comparable abode, even with the extra cash.
“I’m happy for my friend, but she and some of the other residents would rather stay,” said Nancy Rich, whose friend Anne-Marie Mogil moved into Prospect Park Residence just three months before she was told to leave. “It’s very traumatic to move, but that seems to be the only option.”
But Rich also said she is holding off on any celebrations until they actually come through with the money.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” she said.
If Deistch doesn’t pay — and on time — the settlement gives the residents even more time to move and cash to do it with, said Frederick Millett, another attorney representing the residents.
And a lawyer for Deistch and the Residence said his clients are happy to put the matter to rest.
“We’re happy that component of the litigation involving the remaining residents has been resolved amicably,” said lawyer Frank Carone.
The court battles aren’t over though.
The residents and their families are also pursuing a suit against the state Department of Health for signing off on the eviction plan, which they say was too hasty for such frail residents and didn’t offer them enough support in finding alternative accommodation.
That case is still in its early stages, however, and isn’t about financial compensation — it will just force the state to adhere to federal regulations that guarantee oustered nursing home residents a comparable place to live, Millett said.
“We want the DOH to recognize that their regulations are outdated and change them to comply with federal law,” he said.
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Source: Brooklyn Paper