The Edge at Union Station settles tenants’ class action lawsuit for $550,000

edge

The Edge Apartment Building and Union Station in Worcester Christine Peterson

Telegram.com | by Brad Petrishen | September 18, 2019

WORCESTER – The Edge at Union Station, the upscale off-campus student housing complex behind Union Station, has agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it improperly handled security deposits and built illegal stipulations into leases.

Among the provisions the owners agreed to not enforce going forward was one that allowed them to fine tenants $100 for not answering the door for a law enforcement officer, as well as a clause stating the complex was not liable for property losses attributed to bedbugs.

“The Edge did a good job recognizing the issues and working with us to help resolve them,” Josh Gardner, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday.

About 535 people who lived in the building between June 2016 and June 2019 are expected to be eligible to file a claim, court documents show, and claims are due Oct. 25.

Mr. Gardner filed the lawsuit in Worcester Superior Court in October 2017 on behalf of Douglas Schaffer, a three-month tenant of the building at 8 Grafton St., who alleged his security deposit was returned late after he departed in June 2017.

The suit alleged that The Edge did not properly account for the security deposits it collected, did not always return them quickly enough and improperly charged a $50 application fee.

It also alleged The Edge billed tenants on estimates of their electricity usage rather than using dedicated meters, and violated sanitary code by not cleaning common bathroom areas.

Opened in June 2016 in the former Osgood Bradley building, The Edge was specifically built with students in mind. According to court records, it features one-, two- and four-bedroom suites, and tenants pay for bed space within a unit rather than for a whole suite.

Each tenant pays a pro-rated portion of the electricity, court papers show, while the multi-unit suites have bathrooms in each bedroom as well as a half-bathroom in the common area.

Noting that each bedroom had its own bathroom, it argued it also was not legally required to clean the common half-bathroom once every day.

In a joint motion filed Aug. 13 urging a judge to certify the class and preliminarily approve the settlement, lawyers on both sides agreed the bathroom and electricity claims faced “significant legal obstacles” for the plaintiffs and had “the least likelihood of success.”

The Edge did concede that it “did not properly handle the security deposits in some respects in the past.”

The lawsuit had alleged the complex broke a law governing security deposits by collecting application fees, failing to hold deposits in separate interest-bearing accounts, failing to providing notice to tenants of which bank accounts held their security deposits, failing to pay interest on the security deposits and failing to properly withhold or return the deposits within 30 days of the end of tenancy.

According to the joint Aug. 13 motion, The Edge has stopped charging application fees and has “placed security deposits into a compliant account.”

It also states The Edge has “agreed to amend (its) standard lease to take out the provisions plaintiff believes do not comport with Massachusetts law.”

Also removed was language allowing The Edge to charge up to two months of rent as security deposit, allowing it to terminate utilities “at any time,” and language pertaining to certain fees and procedures relative to lease enforcement.

As for the electricity bills, The Edge will determine those charges by dividing the number of bedrooms in each unit rather than dividing the number of tenants in each unit.

Mr. Gardner, of Gardner & Rosenberg in Boston, said it is “not often the case” in a class action lawsuit that the defendants recognize and work to solve issues, but that is what happened here.

“It’s a good settlement, and it’s a credit to them and their attorney that we were able to reach it,” he said.

The bulk of the settlement – $500,000 – will be covered by an insurer, court records show, while the remaining $50,000 will be paid by The Edge.

“The defendants themselves have significant financial constraints,” the joint motion reads. “For this reason, the remaining $50,000 will be paid by defendants, with a personal guarantee from two individuals.”

Mr. Shaffer and Mary Shaffer are listed in the settlement as the two people guaranteeing the extra $50,000.

Karen Friedman, the lawyer for The Edge, did not immediately return phone and email messages left Tuesday afternoon. A voicemail left at the office number for The Edge late Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

The amount individual claimants receive from the settlement will depend on how many of the estimated 535 eligible tenants file a claim.

The $550,000 – minus about $182,000 in lawyers’ fees, and some other expenses – will be spread among the people who file claims by Oct. 25.

Mr. Gardner said he anticipated everyone who files a claim will get at least $500, and likely more than that.

Mr. Schaffer, who now lives in Ohio, will get $5,000 for being the lead plaintiff.

The settlement will not technically become official until after the claims are submitted and the judge gives a final approval. The agreement notes that The Edge is not admitting any wrongdoing by agreeing to settle.

Disturbing Map of NYC Parks/Public Areas shows Roundup herbicide Glyphosate INCREASING

February 23, 2016 | by Julie M. Rodriguez |  Inhabitat.com

Bad news, New Yorkers — if you like to take long walks or pay visits to your local park, you’ve probably been exposed to glyphosate, the cancer-linked main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. In response to concerned citizen groups, the New York City government released a report last year detailing pesticide use by its agencies. And now, if you’d like to see whether you’re at risk, Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir have created a disturbing new map that charts every park and public area known to be treated with the toxic compound. You can view the map here.

The data shows that in 2014 alone, the city applied glyphosate 2,748 times within the city. While the recent numbers are alarming enough all on their own, what’s even worse is the fact that glyphosate use within the city seems to be increasing — the amount sprayed jumped 16% from 2013 to 2014.

Why is NYC drenching its parks in a chemical that World Health Organization classes as a probable carcinogen? Studies have repeatedly linked the herbicide to cancer dating back to the 1980s, and farmers have even filed suit against Monsanto alleging that exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop the disease. The company, naturally, has fought back against this research by suing states that try to regulate the use of the herbicide.

glyphosate, pesticide, herbicide, roundup, monsanto, roundup cancer link, new york city, nyc, roundup spraying

 

Glyphosate is BANNED in France, Netherlands, Bermuda and Sri Lanka.  Switzerland and Germany begin to REFUSE stocking Roundup.

While cities like NYC and San Francisco may have no problem with spraying this controversial chemical all over their streets, other governments are beginning to crack down on glyphosate use. France has banned the sale of the herbicide over the counter, along with the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka. In Switzerland and Germany, major retailers have begun refusing to stock Roundup even in the absence of government regulation. The evidence of Roundup’s toxic effects is strong enough for the leaders of these nations and corporations to pull it from the shelves, and New York City needs to stand up and take note.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Sunland Pest Control (contracted by Terminix) fumigators hit with federal charges after poisoning of 10 year old Peyton McCaughey

picture by PEYTON MCCAUGHEY

10 year old Peyton McCaughey

January 19, 2016 | FOX News WFLX29

PALM CITY, Fla. – Sunland Pest Control, the company subcontracted by Terminix to fumigate the Palm City home of Peyton McCaughey in August, has been charged with two federal crimes.

The charging documents submitted by the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida list Sunland Pest Control, owner Grenale Williams and employee Canarie Deon Curry.

Count one is “Using a restricted use pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

The charging document says Sunland failed “to have two persons trained in the use of restricted use pesticides,” “to aerate the fumigated space” and to “conduct a required clearance” with an approved and properly calibrated detection device.”

Count two is “False Statement.” The charging document says during the investigation by Florida’s Department of Agriculture into the fumigation at the McCaughey home Sunland claimed the pesticide “Vikane was used, when in truth and in fact, a different restricted use pesticide, Zythor, was used.”

It also says Sunland claimed that all label requirements of the pesticide were followed when “as the defendant then and there well knew, the label requirements were not followed.”

Count one carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Count two carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The crimes Sunland Pest Control is charged with left Peyton McCaughey with “severe brain damage” according to his parents.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Federal Charges Filed Against FL Pest Control Company

January 19, 2016 | ABC News WPBF

PALM CITY, Fla. —  Federal charges have been filed against a pest control company after a local boy was poisoned.

Last August, Sunland Pest Control fumigated a Palm City home.

Shortly after, the company said it was safe for the family to return.  However, Peyton McCaughey suffered brain damage.

Sunland is being charged with two federal crimes, including using a restricted pesticide inconsistent with its labeling and false statement.

Count one carries a maximum of one year in prison.

Count two carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The state revoked the company’s license last fall.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES

Bedbug Problem Continues Despite Lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa | August 21, 2015 | Aaron Brilbeck — Nine months after the City of Des Moines was slapped with a class action lawsuit over a bedbug infestation at a public housing complex, the problem apparently continues.  Robert Straub of Des Moines lives at Royal View Manor.  He says the bedbugs are so bad, he missed his granddaughter’s second birthday party.   “It’s like having leprosy. When you have bedbugs it’s like you’re a leper.” Straub said, “You know, nobody in their right mind wants you over at their house if they suspect you’re gonna track a bedbug in there.”

Attorney Jeffery Lipman filed the suit. He’s the guy who last year was awarded $2.45 million from the city after he sued because of a similar problem at Elsie Mason Manor. The suit also resulted in new protocols being put into place at Elsie Mason to combat bedbugs.  Protocols that Lipman says are needed at Royal View Manor.  “And if you have that you’re on top of the problem. If you don’t it’s going to explode into a disastrous situation.” Lipman said,  “And it has.”

The city says it’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years combating the bedbugs at Royal View Manor.  Beyond that, the city can’t comment because of the pending lawsuit.

Straub says he doesn’t care about a multi-million dollar settlement. The 60-year old cancer patient says he just wants his remaining years to be bedbug free.  “This bedbug issue is more anxiety provoking to me than cancer is. I accept the cancer. I know my treatment options. I know what they’re gonna do. But this bedbug issue..”Straub said, “I’m really starting to feel like a leper”.

Motel owners agree to pay more than $500k to settle lawsuit

Bakersfield

Nov. 10, 2015 | | Bakersfield, CA

A motel on Union Avenue dealing with major problems since 2013 will now have to pay up more than half a million dollars after settling a lawsuit.

The District Attorney’s office sued the owners of the Tropicana Motel, Bobby and Shobhana Patel, because of a number of issues with their building that eventually forced their residents to be evicted.

John Mitchell works in the victim’s services unit of the DA’s office and said the problem was so bad that bugs were spilling out into the parking lot. He calls it the worst housing situation he’s ever seen.

“An inspection revealed vermin infestations including mice, roaches and bed bugs; plumbing hazards; exposed electrical wiring; inadequate and broken weather stripping; lack of adequate heating appliances; non-working smoke detectors; exposed electrical wiring; and general dilapidation,” wrote Mitchell in a press release.

Usually if something like this happens to a business, Kern County Public Health gets involved. They close the place down, the business cleans up, and then it reopens.

However, Mitchell said this case was too drastic to be handled administratively. One challenge involved trying to help the people who lived there. Many of them didn’t want to leave because the only other alternative was homelessness.

“They’re poor folks,” said Mitchell. “They’re the ones who would be the easier, I think, to get ignored.”

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez used $10,000 to help the 150 tenants who were evicted. She was horrified to see what was going on.

“It was really the most disgusting and heartbreaking thing that I had seen in — maybe ever in Kern County,” said Perez.

Now the owners are trying to turn over a new leaf. They’ve changed the name from the Tropicana Motel to the Residence Hotel.

As part of the settlement, they owe $547,500. The majority will go to the tenants who were evicted, $300,000. The defendants will also pay $175,000 in penalties and $22,500 in costs, which will include reimbursement of $10,000 in costs that were funded by Perez.

The owners declined to give any kind of formal statement, but did say that their business is now clean.

“It does look cleaner,” said Perez.

The people who live there today say they’re glad the place looks so much better than it used to.

Perez says she is sure there are more places out there with similar problems that need to be taken care of, and she hopes this case sets a precedent.

The DA’s office hopes other business owners will pay attention and clean up their act on their own.

Fearing bedbugs, Franciscan Center discards donated clothes

About 700 people a day visit there Franciscan Center of Baltimore, which has a $2 million annual budget.

The Franciscan Center of Baltimore is throwing away thousands of pounds of clothing, toys and other donations, for fear of infestation by bedbugs, Executive Director Christian Metzger said Wednesday.

“It’s breaking my heart to do this, but safety has to come first,” said Metzger, who wore a disposable hazardous materials suit as he and his staff disposed of the goods, ranging from shirts and pants to stuffed animals, in a large trash receptacle outside the center in North Baltimore on Wednesday morning.

Metzger said evidence of bedbugs in a storage area of the Franciscan Center, 101 W. 23rd St., came to light Monday when employees and visitors complained of bites on their arms and legs.

“This is the first time it’s happened,” he said.

Metzger said he asked officials at Bay City Pest Control, the company that the center uses for extermination services, for advice on what action to take, and that they told him, “You gotta start over from scratch.”

Fumigation of the clothing storage area was expected to be done this week, and the area was expected to reopen Nov. 9, Metzger said. He also said the center would put in place a protocol that would include installing a machine that can “bake” donated clothes to decontaminate them.

Other areas of the Franciscan Center, including its food pantry, soup kitchen and computer lab for job skills training, remained open and were not believed to be in danger of contamination by bedbugs, Metzger said.

About 700 people a day visit the 48-year-old center, which has an annual budget of $2 million and is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. The mission of the center, as stated on its website, http://fcbmore.org, is “to provide emergency assistance and supportive outreach to persons who are economically disadvantaged in an effort to assist them in realizing their self-worth and dignity as people of God.”

“Unfortunately, when you open yourself up to taking donations from the community, this kind of stuff happens,” he said.

Metzger urged the public to clean clothing, toiletries and other items before donating them. He said he has also reached out to his counterparts at other private agencies in the area that provide such services, including Goodwill Industries, Planet Aid and Paul’s Place in Southwest Baltimore, urging them to put protocols in place if they have not done so already.

“I told them, ‘You’re living on borrowed time,'” he said.

Metzger said the center’s budget and donor base are substantial enough that he expects the center to recover pretty quickly from the loss of the clothing.

The disposal of so much donated clothing saddened Robert Williams and Dan Griffin, both of Rodgers Forge, who packed Griffin’s van with boxes and bags of clothing and drove to the Franciscan Center, but never unpacked the van there, because Metzger gently turned them away and told them to come back next week.

They were trying to donate women’s clothing that they had picked up from Prologue, Inc., a resource center in Towson that serves mostly homeless men and had little use for the women’s clothing that had been donated to Prologue.

Although Griffin and Williams said they did not blame the center for its safety precautions, “It’s disheartening to see,” Griffin said.

“You’re throwing out what’s (intended) to help people who already have very little,” said Williams, who recently started his own small group called Homeless Outreach CALM (Compassion, Aid, Love, Mercy). “I’m just glad our stuff did not get thrown out.”

Said Griffin, “Imagine if we had come yesterday.”

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun

This Isn’t Syria – It’s NYC!

Stop NYC’s New Round of Pesticide Spraying, Now

August 11, 2015 — The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOH) renews its annual pesticide-spraying assault on the people of New York City tonight in Staten Island and Queens.

Areas of New Jersey are also being widely sprayed.

All mass spraying of pyrethroid and organophosphate pesticides are dangerous to human health (especially to children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems), as well as to pets, fish, and other animals. The spraying must be halted immediately.

Every year, the NYC DOH grants itself waivers from New York City Local Law 37, a law passed in 2005 in response to growing concerns over the health and environmental consequences of mass-spraying of Malathion (and other organophosphates) and Anvil 10+10 (and other pyrethroids, especially those containing the carcinogen Piperonyl Butoxide).

Only through application and granting of such waivers is the Department of Health enabled to legally conduct the pesticides spraying.

But the NYC DOH is circumventing the law. It applies for a waiver to itself, and then it grants itself pro forma the right and authority to spray deadly pesticides in NYC. No other agency reviews its application. The checks and balances envisioned in Local Law 37 are thus thwarted.

See, especially, a powerful review in City Limits of the waivers to Local Law 37, here.

The No Spray Coalition, which won its lawsuit against the City government in federal court in 2005 and achieved a settlement agreement two years later, is outraged by the spraying. The City’s Department of Health has failed to seriously consider:

a) the admissions it made concerning the dangers of pesticides in the 2007 stipulated Settlement Agreement with the No Spray Coalition, et al. in federal court; and

b) the 4 pillars for waivers in Local Law 37 (referenced also as a separate point in the Settlement Agreement).

These amount to a violation of the terms of the Settlement Agreement as well as key provisions of Local Law 37.

This year’s spray of choice is, once again, Anvil 10+10. It is listed in Local Law 37 as containing piperonyl butoxide and MGK-284. These are both “synergists” in Anvil 10+10, and they are both classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.

Local Law 37 prohibits the use of pesticides by NYC in public places if they contain PBO and/or MGK-264. Why are they violating their own law?

“After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the New York City government is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City,”

said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD, NY State Against Genetic Engineering, and a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit brought in 2000 by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against the New York City government’s pesticide-spraying campaign. That lawsuit ended in April 2007 when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:

  • may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
  • cause adverse health effects
  • kill mosquitoes’ natural predators (such as dragonflies, bats, frogs and birds)
  • increase mosquitoes’ resistance to the sprays, and
  • are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that there are “no significant risks” of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product. Levi Fishman, deputy press secretary at the Dept. of Health, explained to City Limits reporter Elah Feder:

“When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health. It degrades rapidly in sunlight, provides little or no residual activity, and does not accumulate in the environment.”

Feder immediately pointed out that “nevertheless, the city advises residents to bring children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothing indoors before spraying takes place, and to wash anything that has come in contact with Anvil.” If there are no significant risks, why all that advice?

The fact is, the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

“These ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to ‘save’ us from the so-called West Nile virus,”

said Howard Brandstein, adding:

“Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease.”

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10 — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin (not a naturally occurring pyrethrin), made in the laboratory — as well as dangerous benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”)

Thousands of New Yorkers are severely sickened by the spraying every year, but they go unrecorded and unreported. Several members of the No Spray Coalition, including two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, died from pesticide-related illnesses. Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying.

The City administration must be made to understand that pesticides are extremely dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment, and have long-term consequences.

The No Spray Coalition details the reasons for vacating NYC DOH’s waivers as follows:

  1. The Department of Health has illegally circumvented Local Law 37’s attempt to protect against health and environmental dangers;
  2. The City has entered into a multi-year pattern that misinterprets and misuses blindspots in the law, which in general forbids spraying of toxic pesticides on City lands;
  3. The City has failed to abide by its own admissions in the Settlement Agreement with the No Spray Coalition et al. in 2007, review the latest scientific research, and participate in discussions with the No Spray Coalition in good faith;
  4. The City has failed to evaluate the “public health threat” from pesticide spraying as well as West Nile virus. There has been no Environmental Impact Statement in the last 15 years on which to examine the effects of the spraying;
  5. There have been no public hearings in contradiction to the requirements in Local Law 37 and other regulations;
  6. The City has repeatedly failed to adequately notify the public before spraying pesticides, in violation of Local Law 37 and other regulations, and in violation of the Settlement Agreement;
  7. The City has failed to seriously utilize safer alternatives to pesticide spraying;
  8. The City has failed to respond in a timely fashion to important questions and concerns from NY Assembly member William Colton, and others;
  9. The City is illegally spraying toxic pesticides on the people and environment of New York.

The No Spray Coalition strongly urges the City to stop pesticide spraying immediately, reconsider its entire approach, and seek alternative, safe means to control mosquitoes. There are natural, safe ways for each person to ward off mosquitoes. The City should not be poisoning the entire population.

We call on the Mayor and City Council to hold the DOH in violation of the intent of Local Law 37 and other laws, and of the Court-mandated “Settlement Agreement” with the No Spray Coalition, et al., and urge City officials to stop the spraying NOW. Please protect the residents and visitors to New York and the natural environment from the extremely dangerous, unnecessary, ineffective and illegal mass spraying of toxic pesticides.

Stop spraying now. Stop poisoning people, animals and the environment.

Visit NoSpray.org for more information.

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