Schenectady plaintiffs build demo to secure $1.075 million payout

SCHENECTADY – The couple who owned the Nicholaus building and their main tenant who ran a Thai and sushi restaurant will receive $1.075 million in total damages under two separate settlements that resolve an emergency demolition battle structure in 2017.

Documents outlining the global financial settlement resulting from the civil lawsuits ask a dozen defendants, mostly professional and construction companies, to pay plaintiffs Viroj and Malinee Chompupong $800,000 and the owner of Thai Thai Bistro Piyamas “Pui” DeMasi to receive $275,000 from four entities, including the City of Schenectady.

As part of the deal, the city will have to pay $5,000 to DeMasi, who after razing the historic downtown building moved his restaurant in 2019 to ShopRite Plaza in Niskayuna before closing the restaurant and his other business called Karma. Bistro, also in the same place, earlier this year.

On Friday, DeMasi, who had sued Schenectady and other defendants for negligence, declined to comment. She is also on probation for a labor trafficking case involving a boss who worked for her. DeMasi’s Schenectady-based attorney, Frank Putorti Jr, did not return the calls to his office.

The Chompupongs could not be reached for comment on Friday. It was not immediately clear who is representing them in the civil litigation.

Mayor Gary McCarthy described the payment the city will have to make as a nuisance fee.

“It solved the problem from the city’s perspective, where it’s one of those things where I’d rather not pay the money, but if we didn’t pay it, we’d spend more on legal fees, in time and effort to resolve further down the road,” McCarthy said.

The wording of the terms and conditions of the settlement, obtained by the Times Union, states that none of the defendants admits “any fault, liability, wrongdoing or negligence on the part of one party against the others” and that the money will be paid by the defendants. by their insurance company in “full satisfaction” of all “claims, counterclaims and counterclaims, including interest, costs and fees”.

Attorney Alan J. Goldberg of the law firm Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP, which helped broker the settlement, did not respond to a message left on his cell phone or with his secretary at the office Friday.

Last summer, the Chompupongs filed a lawsuit in Schenectady County State Supreme Court seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages on the grounds that the city’s decision to issue a permit and abruptly demolish the building in April 2017 was “arbitrary, unreasonable, unlawful and corporate”. in violation of the plaintiffs’ proprietary, statutory and constitutional rights. »

City officials previously said the residential and commercial structure at the corner of Erie Boulevard and State Street needed to be demolished urgently because it posed an imminent threat and could collapse at any time.

The Chompupongs, who acquired the building in 2004, claimed damage to their property was caused by the demolition of the nearby old Olender Mattress building, with work underway to make way for the Electric City apartments.

The luxury apartments, owned by one of the defendants, Highbridge/Prime Development, opened in June 2019.

The $50,000 Metroplex cash in the settlement is used to pay for the removal of overgrown trees and shrubs and sprucing up a fenced-in area at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard next to the apartments.

This decision to shoot down the Nicholaus sparked a wave of civil lawsuits that ensnared many of these professional companies and construction companies who will now pay.

In August 2017, the couple filed a lawsuit against Schenectady in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging violations of their constitutional rights as well as allegations, normally tried in state court, that Schenectady abused his authority, transgressed, was negligent. , and property intentionally destroyed. The city disputed the charges and after court rulings for and against the municipality, the Chompupongs took their grievances to the state Supreme Court.

DeMasi Settlement Amounts:

Plank LLC – $97,000
DA Collins Construction Co. Inc. – $97,000
Highbridge/Prime Development, Inc. – $76,000
City of Schenectady – $5,000

Total: $275,000

Chompupong Settlement Amounts:

Plank LLC – $210,849
DA Collins Construction Co. Inc. – $210,849
Ryan Biggs- $132,075
Hayward Baker, LLC – $37,736
C2 Design Architecture, Inc. – $37,736
Shamrock Engineering, PC – $37,736
Jackson, LLC Demolition Service – $37,736
Galusha & Sons, Inc. – $22,641
Highbridge/Prime Development, Inc. – $18,868
Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority – $50,000
Dente Engineering, CP $3,774

Total: $800,000