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Carter's View

Madonna's upstairs neighbor at her Central Park West building who complained about blaring music that shook her walls and floor can proceed with claims against the pop icon and against the cooperative building's board and manager, according to a New York State Supreme Court Justice Louis York, an article by Andrew Keshner in yesterday's edition of the New York Law Journal reported.

"One of the most basic functions of a residence is to provide shelter from the outside world for its occupants to think, interact and relax in peace," the judge maintained, adding that "if the noise caused by Madonna's activities prevented Plaintiff from being able to use her apartment for these purposes, then the warranty of habitability has been breached," the article said.

Karen George had alleged that music coming from Madonna's apartment, which was used for dance training and exercise routines, was loud enough to force her to leave several times and greatly hampered her own entertaining, the article said, adding that "she claims that in June 2008 she alerted the board and management of 1 W. 64th St. in addition to Madonna's representatives, but no one took sufficient steps to fix the problem."

The article said that "Ms. George sued the board and Midboro Management for breach of the warranty of habitability, private nuisance, attorney's fees and injunctive relief that would have forced Madonna to comply with building rules preventing unreasonable noise. She also sued Madonna for nuisance and injunctive relief."

The defendants responded that the music was only played during the day, never longer than three hours and never at volumes prohibited by the city noise code, the article said, adding that "they argued Ms. George denied access to her apartment in September 2009 and other times, which made sound assessment impossible." "Ms. George said she did allow access, and any denials were made for good reason," the article said.

"Madonna submitted an affidavit this past March saying she no longer used the apartment to exercise or dance but constructed a studio in one of her other New York City properties. In June 2011, the parties stipulated that Ms. George would drop her injunctive relief claims. Justice York narrowed the claims in an Aug. 19 decision, but - noting a dispute about the music's volume - let Ms. George proceed with her nuisance allegation against Madonna and the breach of warranty allegation against the building defendants," the article said.

With the reasonableness of the sound in dispute, Justice York wrote, whether "the noise in question possessed such qualities as to violate the warranty of habitability is a question of fact which must be left for trial," the article said, adding that "Justice York said he was not convinced by the building defendants' arguments that they were protected by the business judgment rule or that Ms. George had unclean hands because she refused to grant access to her apartment for measurements."

The judge "did, however, remove the building defendants from the nuisance claim," the article said.

The 12-story building, which is known as Harperley Hall, is located at 41 Central Park West and is also known as 1 West 64th Street.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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