A moving accident turned this NYC building into a soggy hell: Lawsuit

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Bulky sofa. Narrow staircase. Spray head.

Connect them and what do you get?

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Millions of dollars in property damage. And an insurance company that refuses to pay because the incident — sofa vs. sprinkler — happened in a luxury downtown condominium, not on the street.

This pathetic, raw story plays out in the Textile Building – at 66 Leonard Street in Tribeca – according to ongoing litigation.

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The case depends on the definition of “loading and unloading” – and whether the moving truck was loaded while the stray couch was inside, still on top.

The majestic 14-story building – an office building converted to apartment buildings in 2001 – has apartments that sell for between $3 million and $5 million.


Textile building at 66 Leonard Street.
OLGA GINZBURG FOR NEW YORK POST

The sofa accidentally hit the sprinkler, resulting in millions of dollars in damage.
The sofa was accidentally hit by a sprinkler, resulting in millions of dollars in water damage.

Built around 1900, the building was home to two recently deceased celebrities: cake designer Sylvia Weinstock and author Toni Morrison. Current listing at $4.95 million has nearly 3,000 square feet and monthly total fees and taxes are over $10,000.

The headache started a year and a half ago when someone on the sixth floor was selling a sofa through Furnishare, also known as Kayo — online store of high-quality used furniture.

The company is promoting its convenient and environmentally friendly process that keeps furniture out of landfills. Furnishare picks up the furniture, cleans it, stores it in its warehouse, sells it on commission, and delivers it to a new home.

This service takes away the pain of buying and selling furniture – the hassle of transporting large and bulky items.

“We do all the hard work for you so that good furniture doesn’t go to waste,” the site says.


Three months after the incident, emergency mold removal began in the hallways and stairwells.
Three months after the incident, emergency mold removal began in the hallways and stairwells.

The renovation took months.
The renovation took months.

On that day, Furnishare movers were removing a couch from a sixth-floor apartment — a $4 million, 2,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bath duplex — to carry it downstairs to a truck that was “waiting outside the premises, next to the city sidewalk.” the lawsuit says.

The sofa didn’t fit.

The movers “began to come down the stairs with the sofa,” according to court documents filed by Furnishare’s attorney, Elizabeth Morris of Latham & Watkins, who declined to speak to The Post. “At this point, the couch accidentally hit the open head of the sprinkler, which resulted in a significant release of water.”

The stairs were flooded. Millions of dollars in damage followed: ceilings cracked, floors warped, mold spread.

Three months later, emergency mold control began in the corridors and stairwells. The estimated cost of repairs was $400,000. According to Department of Construction permits, the work took eight months.

Several apartments on the lower floors were also severely damaged by the water – more than $500,000 each.


The building was home to the late cake designer Sylvia Weinstock.
The building was home to the late cake designer Sylvia Weinstock.
Paul Zimmerman

The late Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison also called the building her home.
The late Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison also called the building her home.
Getty Images

Furnishare had adequate insurance – or so they thought. Instead, their insurance company, Travelers, refuses to pay, saying the incident happened while the truck was “loading and unloading” and that the policy excludes such loading and unloading activities.

In an insurance policy, the term “loading and unloading” is defined ambiguously and is difficult to interpret. It means “property management”. . . after its movement from the place where it was accepted for carriage into or onto a vehicle.

“The sixth-floor stairwell incident does not occur in the course of ‘loading or unloading’ a truck parked outside the building across the sidewalk on the side of a public path,” according to court documents filed on Furnishare’s behalf. “It’s common sense; and, just as importantly, it is New York State law.”

Loading also does not cover “actions in preparation for loading,” court documents say.

In addition, “not a single car was parked in the stairwell of the sixth floor.”


Former office building converted to apartment buildings in 2001.
Former office building converted to apartment buildings in 2001.
OLGA GINZBURG FOR NEW YORK POST

Homes inside sell for between $3 million and $5 million.
Homes inside sell for between $3 million and $5 million.
OLGA GINZBURG FOR NEW YORK POST

Furnishare had a separate truck policy with State Farm. But the State Farm also does not pay, stating that no car was involved in the incident.

“The main question presented in this case is, . . . an accident in an internal stairwell occurs while loading a car,” writes a Furnishare lawyer.

She cites a 20-year-old precedent in which a patient in a wheelchair was transported down stairs to a waiting ambulance. On the landing, the wheelchair brakes failed; The patient fell and was injured. The court decided that the situation did not fit into the category of “loading and unloading”.

Both incidents were “removed in space and time from the sidewalk, where any load on the vehicle could subsequently occur,” according to court documents.

“Furnishare paid significant premiums” for insurance “to protect against the risks associated with running a furniture moving business, including the risk of damage to third parties during moves,” the lawsuit says.

Travelers attorney Amy S. Gross did not respond to messages, nor did representatives from Founder Shield, the company that sold the Travelers policy, or Baldwin Risk Partners, owner of Founder Shield.

As for the sofa? He was “irreparably damaged”.

Credit: nypost.com /

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