The four steps needed by a minority plaintiff to prove race discrimination against a white defendant in a housing discrimination case:

 

THE FOUR LEGGED STOOL

 

By Nicholas Biondi  

 

In the Broome vs. Biondi case, a total of $1,690,000 was awarded to Gregory Broome and Simone Demou, his landlord, and their attorneys, because they met the four conditions of the four legged stool.  The conditions?

 

1.       He applied for and was qualified to rent the housing.

2.       He was denied the opportunity to rent the housing (the co-op board turned his application down).

3.       The apartment was available thereafter for rent.

 

We are close but we have not yet made the $1,690,000 prize.  We need one more condition to win the brass ring.  The fourth condition?

 

4.       That he is a member of the protected class ( Black or African American) and BINGO !  With the right judge, you’ve just won $1,690,000 for being turned down to rent an apartment !

 

In other words, an applicant-plaintiff could go before a board for an interview, pick up a pitcher of water on a table, empty that pitcher of water on the heads of the board members, and under the above four legged stool standard, he would have to be approved by the board to buy or sublet an apartment.  Or as in the case of the Broome vs. Biondi case, the owner of the apartment could telephone all of the board members and some of the shareholders and tell them they were all racists, accuse the superintendent of the building of being a racist, threaten to sue the management company and the co-op board for racial discrimination and then with the above four legged stool standard, the application to sublet would have to be approved.

 

The way to end discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.  When you put one group in a protected class, the group that is excluded from that class is discriminated against. 

 

No one disputes the fact that Greg Broome met Simone Demou, the owner of the apartment, on May 30, 1995.  Simone Demou, anxious to get a paying tenant as soon as possible told Mr. Broome, “That some paperwork might need to be completed but that a board meeting had never been required for any of her previous tenants.  Indeed, the owner indicated that Board approval itself may not even have been required for her previous subletters.” (The above quoted language is taken right from Mr. Broome’s complaint.)

 

Mr. Broome, a practicing attorney, was suspicious of Simone Demou’s above claims that  no interview or Board approval was required.  His suspicions were confirmed a day later on May 31, 1995 when he received the application package. The package clearly stated that Board approval was required. 

 

“Despite the owner’s statements that Board approval had not been required for her previous tenants, the Broome’s noted that the application materials mentioned Board approval and they wanted to ensure that they were following the appropriate procedures before making arrangements to move.  Mr. Broome called Ms. Caprero and asked her about the approval process at Beekman Hill House…… Indeed, the information provided to the Broomes by Ms. Caprero clearly indicated that a meeting with a ‘subcommittee’ of the Board was all that was required to receive approval.” (quote from complaint on file)

 

It verified that Simone Demou had maliciously lied to him.  This lie was reprehensible. The package included, among other things: requests for employment and salary verification letters for Gregory and Shannon Broome, letters of references and application forms.

 

Greg Broome felt he had been lied to by Simone Demou and had been “sucker-punched.”  Greg Broome went ballistic.  He fired off a memorandum dated May 31, 1995 to Simone Demou stating: “We do not intend to go through an interview.  We have neither the time nor the patience to deal with the egomaniacs that put together these forms.”  He complained that it was going to be “much more of a hassle than we believed to get the apartment.  I am confident that, if the Board stays out of our way, we will have an excellent relationship over the next two years.”

 

When the contents of this memo were revealed to Nick Biondi by Simone Demou, Nick Biondi described Mr. Broome as “arrogant."

 

As reported on the front page of the New York Times on May 14, 1997, Judge Robert L. Carter, the presiding judge at Nick’s trial, described the word “arrogant” as “a code name for racial discrimination” and suggested that the Broome’s had made a case that they had been victims of discrimination, since “arrogant,” the judge said was itself a “a code name for racial discrimination.” “In earlier times,” the judge went on, “when the term was a little cruder, it was called uppity.” The judge added, “But now it is a little more civilized and it’s called arrogant. That’s the word that’s used.”

Judge Robert L. Carter would not let the jury see the memorandum that Gregory Broome sent to Simone Demou. He felt that it would prejudice the jury against Mr. Broome.

Gregory Broome’s lawyers seemed to have found a sympathetic ear in Judge Robert L. Carter, who was once Thurgood Marshall’s assistant at the NAACP and helped argue Brown vs. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954. In fact, he pushed aside another judge in order to hand pick this case for himself. His rights of seniority entitle him to stipulate what types of cases he wants to sit on and when.

 

In my opinion, Judge Carter revealed an extreme racial bias for Mr. Broome, and a racial bias against Mr. Biondi when he would not allow the jury to see Greg Broome’s memorandum of May 31, 1995.