LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (CN) - The Long Island Cablevision's News 12 failed to tell the full story in its investigation of landlord Jay Levy, falsely claiming he denied housing to an HIV-positive tenant, Levy claims in Nassau County Court. He says he turned down Sharon Johnson's application because she lied about her job status and did not secure a governmental rent guarantee, not because her husband was "being treated for the AIDS virus."
Levy claims that he was in Florida when News 12 anchor Holli Haerr requested an interview for the story, and he asked her to hold the segment until he returned in three days so that he could make a statement on camera.
According to Levy, Haerr refused to wait for him and instead got a statement from his attorney Jamie Ezratty. So Levy allegedly sent assistant news director James Whiteman documentation proving that his rejection was "based solely on financial/economic criteria." Mere hours after Whiteman agreed to hold the story "under consideration," Levy says News 12 "repeatedly" aired the story "Couple Turned Away."
The segment allegedly quoted defendant Johnson as saying, "He told me that he wasn't going to rent to us because my husband had AIDS and he was worried about children in the building." News 12 also aired the husband and their attorney Robert Halpern making the same accusation, the lawsuit claims.
Levy says the news station did not refer to the letter that he sent the news director, which he believes exonerates him.
Represented by Josh Kardisch of Kardisch, Link & Associates PC, Levy demands $5 million from the Johnsons, their attorney, Cablevision, Rainbow Media, News 12 Long Island and the channel's employees.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.