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Bronx Tenant's $2K of Insulin Ruined Due to Landlord's Failures: Lawsuit

By Eddie Small | October 20, 2016 4:23pm
 Darryl Thomas said his apartment at 949 Ogden Ave. suffered severe damage following a leak in the apartment above him in January.
Darryl Thomas said his apartment at 949 Ogden Ave. suffered severe damage following a leak in the apartment above him in January.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small/Darryl Thomas

HIGHBRIDGE — Darryl Thomas' problems at 949 Ogden Ave. started when his fridge broke right after he moved in three years ago.

Thomas, a diabetic who needed a place to keep his insulin cold, was caught by surprise  — costing him an entire supply of his life-saving insulin.

"I had to throw away $2,000 worth of insulin that they never replaced," said Thomas, 57.

His problems continued in January, when a leak in the apartment above him led to his ceiling falling in, with the water eventually reaching up to his knees.

Now, he and other tenants fed up with collapsing ceilings, vermin and mold in their apartments are taking their landlords to court in hopes of finally seeing some repairs.

The tenants are accusing landlords Michael and Daniel Padernacht of Midas Property Management of ignoring repeated and severe issues with security and maintenance at the building over the past six years, according to a Bronx Housing Court lawsuit.

Tyrone Whitaker, who is 52 and has lived in the building for about five years, said his apartment is plagued with mold, broken floors and a recent leak that ruined several of his groceries.

He is now embarrassed to have anyone come visit his home and said that management is much more concerned with collecting rent than with fixing any of the building's problems.

"We just want someone to just get to the repairs," he said. "They're taking their time."

Other problems with the building include a broken lock on the entrance door, inadequate hot water, missing smoke detectors and a defective boiler, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, when residents started trying to organize as a way to make Midas Property Management more responsive to their concerns, representatives from the company interrupted and interfered with their first meeting, ultimately breaking it up, according to tenants' advocacy group Community Action for Safe Apartments.

Keriann Pauls, an attorney at the Urban Justice Center who is representing the tenants, said that this lawsuit was not about trying to get money but just about trying to make sure residents of 949 Ogden Ave. had safe living conditions.

"This case is specifically about repairs done in a real manner that addresses them and leaves their apartments safe," she said.

Pauls was able to speak with the building owner on Thursday and arrange dates for repairs to be made, and they are due back in court on Nov. 30, at which point all of the work will hopefully be complete, she said.

Michael Padernacht said in an email that his company had made several repairs to Thomas' apartment, including replacing his refrigerator, and that the company's efforts to make repairs have been hindered before by a lack of access to the apartments.

They plan to tackle all of their residents' problems by mid-November and are working on extensive renovations of the property, including converting it to natural gas and installing a new burner, he said.

Whitaker hoped that the lawsuit will help show management that the people who live in their buildings are important.

"Management will open up their eyes and see that tenants' lives matter," he said.