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Resolving Coop/Condo Disputes
Wednesday, July 30, 2014; 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

There is no charge for this program; please sign in to register and register by July 25.

For further information about this program, contact Michael P. Graff at



Every month, as a part of our committee meetings, we discuss cases before the courts involving our clients and their residents. We are aware that these trial and appellate court proceedings are decided by a judge who is a stranger to the community, and are public, expensive, time-consuming and often lead to results that are unsatisfactory to all sides. As lawyers, we see the need to offer a way to nip these issues in the bud. That is the promise of mediation.

Mediation is an informal, voluntary approach to settling disputes between owners, renters, boards, managing agents, contractors and others. Neutral mediators trained and experienced in assisting parties in resolving coop and condo disputes, out of court, facilitate the process. It is quick, private, confidential and inexpensive. Moreover, its non-binding nature allows the participants to engage in the process without giving up any rights they may have to pursue judicial remedies if the mediation is not successful.

Many confuse mediation and arbitration. Both are alternative dispute resolution methods. They differ in that a neutral mediator is not empowered to make a decision on how the case is resolved. That decision is left to the parties, and the mediator is trained and skilled in assisting the parties in seeing the benefits of arriving at an agreed settlement. We know that over 95% of court cases end in a negotiated settlement. It just happens faster, confidentially and economically in mediation. Arbitration is different. An arbitrator is empowered to render a binding award that the parties can take to court to enforce.

Sometimes, if there is an impasse in mediation, the parties will agree among themselves to entrust in the Mediator the power to render a binding award. This is not the usual outcome, but it may be what the parties decide is best. The parties are in charge of the process.

The Courts themselves realize that mediation can produce satisfactory outcomes. As a result, many state and federal courts direct the parties to appear before mediators to nip those cases in the bud. But that is after you pay $300 to file your case and the costs of pleadings, process servers and motion practice. The time and money your boards and residents will save by going directly to mediation will be greatly appreciated by all parties involved.

The City Bar's Coop/Condo Residential Dispute Mediation Roster consists of a panel of neutral mediators who have received special training and have years of experience in facilitating the settlement of disputes through mediation. They also know real estate law, particularly as applicable to residential co-ops and condominiums, where the nature of the disputes and the issues presented often take on unique and emotional characteristics. Because of this, the City Bar's mediation program is especially well suited to settling residential disputes between shareholders, unit owners, tenants and subtenants, boards and managing agents. You, as board representatives, are not nominating any particular neutral mediator. The neutral bar association is doing that, so that there is no suggestion of partiality.

The process starts by voluntary agreement or as required by the co-op or condominium's governing documents. It covers many of the issues that arise in residential buildings, e.g., noise, odors, smoke, pets, damage and repairs, assessments, the payment and allocation of maintenance and common charges, violations of bylaws, leases and subleases, and rules on sublets and rentals.

The details on how the City Bar Residential Dispute Program is professionally administered, with the appropriate forms, are included in your Course Materials.

Your clients and boards will thank you for keeping the matter out of court and "nipping it in the bud." Most disputes brought to mediation result in an enforceable settlement agreement. Parties may, but need not, retain an attorney to attend the mediation. There is no "winner" or "loser"; rather, the parties, with the assistance of the neutral mediator, work together toward a mutually acceptable outcome. The terms of settlements arrived at through mediation are often more flexible and suited to the parties' needs than the decisions rendered by courts. And, they may be fast, private and confidential.


6:30 PM – 6:45 PM Keynote and Introduction:
Michael P Graff, Graff Dispute Resolution

6:45PM – 7:15PM Review by panel of the various matters that have or would have benefited from mediation. The presenters are:

Bruce Cholst, Esq., Rosen Livingston & Cholst, PLLC

Marianna L. Picciocchi, Esq., Kaufman, Friedman, Plotnicki & Grun, LLP.

Steven Troup, Esq., Tarter, Krinsky and Drogin, LLP

7:15PM - – 8:00 PM "Real Life" Role Play Mediation of a typical mediation session.

The panel will present a model mediation of a dispute involving residents and the Board in the Coop or Condo in which they reside, in a real-life issue many of you may have encountered. There is no telling what will surprise us about the presentation and the outcome.

8:00 PM – 8:30 PM Debriefing on Role Play and Q. and A. to the Panel members by attendees.

Bruce Cholst, of Rosen, Livingston, PLLC, concentrates on cooperative and condominium clients involved in complex sponsor defect and sponsor arrears litigation, shareholder controversies and governing document analysis. He lectures on various issues regarding cooperatives, condominiums and community organizations. He has published articles on Overcoming Limitations of Condo Boards in Dealing with Unruly Residents, and the booklet "When to Litigate and When to Mediate," which is included in your course materials and which is the subject of his presentation this morning.

Michael P. Graff, of Graff Dispute Resolution, a member of both sponsoring committees of the City Bar and a professional mediator on its panel as well as the panels of the commercial division of the State Supreme Court and the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York, the AAA's Hurricane Sandy Mediation Program and several other mediation panels dedicated to Alternate Dispute Resolution. He has served on Condominium boards as a president or member for the past 40 years. In his 53-years of practice, he served as a litigation partner at major New York law firms.

Marianna L. Picciocchi, of Kaufman Friedman Plotnicki and Grun, LLP, concentrates on real estate and commercial litigation, including the representation of condominium associations and cooperative apartments in trial and appellate courts.

Steve Troup, of Tarter Krinsky and Drogin LLP. chairs its Coop & Condo Practice. He serves as counsel to numerous residential and mixed-use coops & condos in all aspects of their issues. Steve is also a trained mediator serving on court and City Bar Coop and Condo Mediation Panels, and in private mediation matters.

For further information about this program, contact Michael P. Graff at


42 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036


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