FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2011
CONTACT: Media Relations
AARP Pleased with Verdict for Plaintiffs in New York Property Flipping Case
Victims Awarded $1 Million in Major Fraud, Discrimination Suit
Washington, DC – An AARP Foundation attorney said today that she was “gratified” with the jury awarding more than $1 million for the seven plaintiffs in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) in the United Homes property flipping case.
After a three-week trial, United Homes, LLC., its owner, Yaron Hershco, as well as two mortgage lenders and others, were found liable by the jury for $673,000 compensatory and $360,000 punitive damages for fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and violations of New York state law prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices. The victims are all New York City residents.
AARP Foundation Litigation Senior Attorney Jean Constantine-Davis, who co-counseled the case with South Brooklyn Legal Services and the New York firm of Cowen, Liebowitz & Latman, said that the attorneys are “pleased that our clients finally, after six years of litigation, got the justice they have been seeking.”
“The jury recognized the deceptive conduct of United Homes and its co-conspirators,” Davis said. “Because it found that their actions were ‘repugnant and involved a high degree of moral culpability’, the jury also awarded punitive damages.”
“This verdict will send a message that these fraudulent and egregious practices will not be tolerated,” said attorney Meghan Faux, Director of the Foreclosure Prevention Project at South Brooklyn Legal Services.
The plaintiffs had claimed that a review of 60 properties sold by United Homes in 2002 and 2003 showed that they were owned by United Homes for only a few months, and that home buyers were charged an average markup of more than $160,000 for each property. These resales were supported by inflated mortgages and appraisals. The plaintiffs all claimed that United Homes arranged for their representation by attorneys who did not, in fact, protect their interests.
AARP’s Constantine-Davis pledged that AARP will continue to fight to prevent such discriminatory practices in home purchase and lending.
AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) is an advocate in courts nationwide for the rights of people 50 and older, addressing diverse legal issues that affect their daily lives and assuring that they have a voice in the judicial system.
AFL expertise spans many specific areas of federal and state law, including:
* Age Discrimination in Employment
* Consumer, financial fraud and utilities
* Employee benefits, including pensions
* Investor protection
* Health and long-term care, including Medicaid, Medicare and prescription drug affordability
* Housing, including predatory mortgage lending, and livable communities
* Low-income benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)