NYC Noise Too Dear for Former Education Secretary

     BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch sued a Brooklyn cooperative after she discovered the seller of an apartment she committed to buy lied about its noise.
     In a complaint filed on Tuesday, Ravitch, an author, education policy analyst and professor at New York University, says she discovered the apartment is poorly insulated and that noise from neighboring units and the street aside would make impossible for her to work.
     She also says she decided to sue after the seller refused to give her back her deposit.
     Ravitch says in the comlaint that she requires peace and quiet to write her books, and that she was lied to by the apartment’s seller about the noise level. When she tried to back out of the sale, the seller’s attorney told her deposit was non-refundable, the complaint says.
     The apartment, located in a cooperative in Brooklyn Heights, was listed for $2.3 million. Ravitch and her life partner and fellow plaintiff Mary Butz viewed the apartment and made an offer of $2.9 million.
     The defendant, financial consultant Herbert Marks, accepted the offer and the parties entered into a contract of sale.
     All was going swimmingly until the coop approval process, when Ravitch says she learned from the coop’s board that the building, which had been built in 1927, had poor insulation between its floors and walls. The apartment would have become “like a drum” that would amplify any noise from the neighboring units, Ravitch says.
     Marks had repeatedly complained to the coop’s board about noise coming from his upstairs neighbor’s unit, the complaint says. Ravitch further alleges that a questionnaire she sent made no mention of these complaints, and a signed supplemental rider to the contract signed by Marks explicitly stated otherwise.
     The lawsuit also alleges that minutes from the cooperative’s board of directors meetings seemed to be “sanitized, so as to eliminate mentions of any negative aspects of the condition of or problems in the building … and to create the appearance of a problem-free building.”
     After learning about the alleged noise problems, Ravitch asked the board to pull her purchase application, but the application was approved. Ravitch’s lawyer then told Marks he had lied about the building, and that Ravitch and Butz would be pulling out of the sale.
     Two weeks later, they received a letter from Marks’ attorney notifying them of the date and time of the closing. A week later, Ravitch says, the attorney wrote to say the $292,500 deposit on the apartment, as well as the legal and administrative fees they paid so far, was forfeit.
     In addition to Marks and the coop, Advanced Management Services, the building’s managing agent, is also named as a defendant in the suit.
     Ravitch is a leading voice in the education industry, and served as Assistant Secretary of Education during the George H.W. Bush administration. Her books have influenced educational policy among both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
     Ravitch is represented by Kamilla Aslanova of Axelrod, Fingerhut & Dennis of New York.
     Representatives of the parties could not immediately be reached for comment.

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