An attorney for a group of LLC operating city gas stations has been ordered to jail for wasting a court’s time.
Unless Robert Del Gadio provides “a sincere apologyˮ to the court and the landlord, and pays $12,000 in fines and legal fees, he is facing three days behind bars.
Del Gadio was found in criminal and civil contempt after New York State Supreme Court Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer has issued two rulings in favor of landlord Getty Properties Corp. in a gas station holdover dispute.
Defendants in the case consist of 19 limited liability companies (the LLCs), Del Gadio, who is the principal of, and the attorney for, the LLCs, and Frank Mascolo.
The landlord was represented in the proceedings by Rosenberg & Estis, P.C. founding partner Warren A. Estis and partner Howard W. Kingsley.
“This was a long and frustrating battle in which frivolous conduct by the defendants caused tremendous expense for our client,” said Estis. “We were pleased that the court ruled in the favor of our client and that it enabled our client to receive attorney’s fees.”
The landlord had leased more than 800 properties to its tenant, Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. (GPMI). GPMI, in turn, subleased many properties to the LLCs. GPMI filed for bankruptcy, and the leases and subleases to the LLCs were terminated.
The dispute arose in May 2012 when the LLCs failed to turn over possession of the sites and the landlord sued to have them ejected and for money damages.
In June 2012, the landlord won a temporary restraining order requiring the LLCs to place rent from the gas station operators into escrow and the court awarded landlord a judgment of $500,000. The LLCs failed to comply with the order and filed an appeal, which was unsuccessful.
Following those rulings, Del Gadio continually failed to comply with multiple court orders. According to the ruling, he also inundated the court with a “plethora of motions, claims and arguments with no legitimate basis in fact or law which has simply served to clog the court’s calendar.”
This caused the court to issue an injunction enjoining Del Gadio and the other defendants “from making any motions or commencing any action in this or any other court relating the subject matter of his action without the prior approval of the court.”
Justice Schweitzer, who presided over the case, found that all the defendants willfully violated the injunction by continuing to make frivolous motions without prior court approval due to the actions of attorney Del Gadio.
The judge ordered Del Gadio to be imprisoned for three consecutive days, fined defendants $2,000 for the two criminal contempt charges, and ordered defendants to pay the landlord’s attorney’s fees and costs.
The order of contempt and arrest may be purged if, within seven business days of the order, Del Gadio provides a sincere apology to the court in person; sends a sincere letter of apology to landlord’s counsel, which must be e-filed with the court; presents a certified check for $2,000 to the county clerk of New York County to pay the fine; and presents a certified check for $10,000 to the plaintiff’s counsel, which will be held in escrow and applied towards the full amount of attorney’s fees and costs due.