Rockland County architect and engineer Dominick R. Pilla is suing a developer for $500,000 for allegedly misappropriating his drawings for a Manhattan luxury townhouse project.
Pilla sued Orly Gilat and W 108 Development LLC on March 13 in federal court in White Plains.
He charges Gilat and her company with copyright infringement and violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Pilla founded an architectural and engineering firm in 1999, based in Nyack. He has written a textbook on structural analysis and building design and he has lectured on architecture and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, his alma mater, and at City College of New York.
Gilat is founder and CEO of Trevive Global, a Manhattan firm that specializes in retirement housing for baby boomers. She has degrees in urban planning from the London School of Economics, and she has managed affordable housing for nonprofit organizations.
Pilla and Gilat have known one another since at least 2009, according to court filings. She had recommended him to nonprofit developers and had employed him for architectural services for her home.
The dispute concerns the Trevive W108, a 19th century townhouse near Riverside Park and Columbia University.
Gilat hired Pilla in 2016, according to the complaint, to produce designs for renovation of the 5-story townhouse and for a 6-story addition.
He copyrighted two sets of drawings.
He claims Gilat duplicated his drawings without his permission, removed his firm’s name and the copyright notices, submitted derivative designs to the city’s building department and completed the project without him.
Gilat did not immediately answer email and telephone messages asking for response to the allegations.
But the copyright complaint is not their first dispute over the Trevive project.
Gilat sued Pilla in 2016 for breach of contract and professional malpractice in Manhattan Supreme Court. She claimed, for instance that he inaccurately analyzed historical preservation, zoning and handicap access rules and regulations.
In her account, one extra floor, not six, were to be built, but a city zoning law did not allow for the extra floor.
The extra floor was critical to the success of the project, according to an amended complaint filed in December, and the inability to build it “still threatens the financial viability of the project.”
She claims she had agreed to pay Pilla’s firm $248,000 and paid all but $14,197, even though none of the five phases of work were completed.
Pilla countersued Gilat in 2016, in Manhattan Supreme Court. He claimed she agreed to pay his firm $427,335 and still owed $193,533.
Both lawsuits are pending.
Gilat was sued in 2016 over the same project by Avant Capital Partners LLC of Stamford, Connecticut.
Gilat and Avant negotiated an $8 million bridge loan for the project, according to the complaint, in 2015 and again in 2016. When she got financing from another source, Avant claimed she owed a $160,000 breakup fee.
The lawsuit was dismissed in 2017, after Gilat and Avant settled on terms that were not disclosed.
Pilla is represented in the copyright case by attorney Michael R. Wood of White Plains.