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Sam, Attorney at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27010
Experience:  More than 20 years of experience practicing law.
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We live in a co-op apt. which was recently flooded by a pipe

Customer Question

We live in a co-op apt. which was recently flooded by a pipe that burst in an apt. two floors above that is owned by the sponsor. We want to be present when repair work is done (we do not want strangers in our home when we are not there); however, we both work and want compensation for any lost work time. Our property manager's response when my husband inquired about this was " You're on disability. You already collect a check - you want us to pay you as well?" My husband WAS on disability approx. 10 years ago following a back injury and subsequent surgery, but has not collected since our marriage in 2004. She was not employed by the building at that time and we want to know who discussed our personal information with her (which is none of her business) and what relevance it has to our current predicament. We were offended by her attitude and feel that she committed a major breach of privacy. Do we have any legal ground to stand on?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 3 years ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Customer :

Hi - do you think you can help us?

Brandon M. :

Hi, thank you for your question. Let's see what we can do.

Brandon M. :

This sounds like a terrible inconvenience. Before we start, let me just say that I'm so sorry for your trouble. Do we know what caused the pipe burst?

Customer :

Again, our office is being very sketchy, but we were told that it was an old pipe on the fifth floor that burst inside the wall. I understand that things like this do happen, but you must also understand that our bldg. mgr. is notorious for ignoring complaints. It took them hours to shut down the water after everyone in our line reported the incident the morning that it happened. The water was pouring through all the apts. straight through to the garage, yet no one thought to shut off the water main.

Brandon M. :

I understand wanting to be present with strangers in your home. Is there any actual need to miss time from work to be present in order for the repairs to be done? In other words, would you be missing work for your own security, or for the job to actually get done?

Brandon M. :

There's no rush, but I just wanted to check on you. Are you still with me?

Customer :

The most critical part of the repair work - to replace the walls and part of the ceiling which have been torn out - will take approx. 3 days per apt ( 6 days total for our apt. and our downstairs neighbor's). We both have valuables in our apts. and we are also responsible for anything that might go wrong in the reconstruction. We do not feel comfortable leaving a work crew of strangers alone in our home. I guess the answer to your question is both - we want to be present for our own security WHILE the work is being done. I don't mean to change the subject, but do you think you could address my original question regarding the mgrs comment regarding my husband's disability? She wasn't even working here at that time, and I find it outrageous that she would say such a thing! The fact that my husband collected disability following his surgery is none of anyone's business, and I would like to know how she was aware of such information. I am an office mgr. in an orthodontic practice, and we respect and uphold such privacy issues. Did she in fact cross a legal line?

Brandon M. :

I apologize if I was off topic--the question was whether you have any legal ground to stand on, and I understood that to include the question of compensation for time off work. I now understand that you were interested only in the privacy question. Thank you for your patience. Is it correct that, right now, we do not have any way of knowing who told the manager that your husband was on disability?

Customer :

I am actually looking for both answers, so I know what i!m talking about when I face them tomorrow. I know her comment was inappropriate, to say the least, but was it legal? I also want to know if we are entitled to some form of compensation for whatever time it takes to reconstruct our home. In addition to replacing our walls we have to go through replacing flooring and all of our tiles in the bathroom (at our expense) at a time when we are stretched thin to begin with! We both work, we run back and forth to the nursing home and now have the added burden, though completely voluntary, of helping our neighbor through a difficult time (simply because we are compassionate people and feel that it is the right thing to do.) Sandra, our building manager, was not here when my husband collected disability. Obviously someone told her, but what does that have to do with the matter at hand? Do you understand why I am outraged at her comment? Jim had ALIF surgery in 2001 and is STILL in pain every day of his life. He does work out of sheer financial neccessity and we do not collect any benefits of any sort, not that it's any of anyone's business!

Expert:  Sam replied 3 years ago.

My name is Sam. I am an attorney with more than 25 years experience and I look forward to assisting you.

I see that your first professional opted out.

Now so that I can provide true, correct and accurate information let me see if I am clear on what you need to know

1 - Was there a breach of privacy because of the comment made by the manager to your husband regarding disability?

2 - Do you have a right to be reimbursed for loss of work if you need to allow a plumber in to work on the pipe?

Is that what you need to know at this time?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

YES. And thank you for your time and help.


Expert:  Sam replied 3 years ago.

Thank you

Now my answers may not be what you want to hear. However, sometimes there is no legal recourse for situations. And if you have other questions for clarification, please let me know.

1 - What the manager said to your husband is not a breach of his privacy. There might be a breach, if she garnered the information from an application and then told others about it. But repeating it to your husband is not a breach because he is already privy to the fact that he was on disability. So even though it was a rude comment, unfortunately you are not going to have recourse.

2 - This will depend on how the pipe got broken. It if was not your fault and it is the fault of the Landlord or the management or another tenant, then you can expect a reasonable reimbursement. However, this is not something that you can just expect to be handed. I suggest that you would need to take the landlord to small claims court once all is said and done to sue for the lost wages due to the broken pipe not being your fault.

Now, this also may be something that is addressed in your CO-op bylaws or lease. It may state that upon proper notification that landlord can come in and make repairs with or without you being there. If that is the case, then you would not win a small claims suit

Small claims is something you can handle your own, however, without the need for a local attorney should you decide you can go that route.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me when you are done.
Expert:  Sam replied 3 years ago.


I see you have given me a poor service rating. I am curious and it seems to be in error since I provided you with all the information you requested - albeit not what you were hoping to hear.

I would appreciate you correcting the rating or ask follow up questions so that I can give more true and correct information. Your rating is not accurate and affects my ability to continue on this website to assist others.

Thank you

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sam, I have sent you two follow up requests. It is not that I don't like your answers; I am simply asking for any advice you can offer on speaking with my board. Are there any key phrases or questions that might help expedite my repair work. What are my legal rights? The apt. in question is owned by the sponsor - the tenant in residence rents from the sponsor and does not own the apt. We want to hire contractors that we can trust since they will not compensate us for lost wages and time. We want to move on this as quickly as possible. Please advise.

Expert:  Sam replied 3 years ago.

Thank you

As you can see no follow ups have been posted here. I will report this to the administrators so they know this is a bug

And now that I have your follow up questions, I need to refer you to any bylaws of the co-op. If you do not own the apartment, then you will need to speak to the owner because generally the bylaws only allow the owners to take part in a Board Meeting or to communicate on that level. So at this time, I suggest you need to speak to the owner/sponsor and tell them what is going on.

They need to talk to the Board to see about getting your reimbursed. But again that is only if the pipe breakage is not your fault. Also, the contractors would have to be hired by the board because it will be their funds paying for the repairs unless this is something that was caused by you. Then of course all of this is moot because you are soley responsible

I apologize that the other folo ups did not post properly and I will make the report so it can be looked into.

Thanks and if you have other questions, please post them and do not rate until you are fully satisfied with the answers.