A Mamaroneck baker claims that her landlord has refused to repair damages caused by Tropical Storm Ida on Sept. 1, and instead has demanded back rent for a storefront that is not fit to be occupied.
ABC Cakes is demanding $130,000 from an affiliate of A. Ruth & Sons Real Estate, in a complaint filed Nov. 5 in Westchester Supreme Court.
“No company should have to operate in an unsafe environment,” ABC owner Duran Radulovic says in an affidavit filed with the complaint. “But this is true even more so for ABC Cakes because it makes and sells food products and serves the public, including many children.”
Ruth & Sons and its attorney Adam M. Levy did not respond to an email asking for the landlord’s side of the story.
Radulovic has leased the first-floor storefront and basement at 412 Mamaroneck Ave., in the village’s restaurant row near the Mamaroneck train station, since 2010. She bakes and decorates cakes, runs a small cafe, teaches baking and hosts decorating and baking parties for children and adults.
Ruth & Sons has been in business since 1894. It owns and manages office, retail and residential properties throughout the tristate region. It has an office next to the bakery at 412 Mamaroneck Ave.
Radulovic says flooding has been a persistent problem because a steeply pitched vacant lot behind her store, owned by the landlord, channels water into a hole that is not connected to a drainage system.
She claims that the landlord has repeatedly refused to fix the drainage problem.
On Sept. 1, Tropical Storm Ida struck, dumping record rainfalls throughout the region, creating flash floods and killing 44 people in four states, including three people in Westchester. Mamaroneck was one of the hardest-hit areas.
ABC Cakes’ basement took on 5 1/2 feet of water, according to the complaint. The backlot looked like a lake and did not recede for days.
The bakery’s equipment, inventory and stored goods were damaged, and the landlord shut down the store.
Several problems emerged in the aftermath, according to Radulovic. Floodwater tore away asbestos insulation wrapped around a boiler in the basement. Mold grew on the boiler, walls and stairwell leading to the first floor. Fuel leaked from the boiler and the odor permeated the air, “indicating that a hazard remains.”
She says she repeatedly alerted the landlord to the problems.
“The landlord continued to insist that nothing was wrong, Radulovic says in the affidavit, “and that we should return to work.”
“Stymied by landlord’s denials and refusals,” the complaint states, ABC asked the village building department if the storefront could be occupied.
Radulovic says she was advised not to occupy the building, and on Oct. 12 the village issued a violation notice that cited “unsanitary interior surfaces – mold.”
ABC notified the landlord that rent payments should be suspended, under the terms of the lease, from the day of the storm until the building could be safely occupied.
Ruth & Sons responded on Oct. 19 with a default notice; a demand for $10,818 for unpaid rent, taxes and insurance; and a Nov. 7 deadline when, if not paid, the landlord “will exercise its rights and remedies as set forth in the lease.”
Radulovic says the bakery “has no reasonable expectation of resuming operations before the end of the year.”
ABC accused the landlord of breach of contract and negligence. It is asking the court to declare that it is not in default of the lease, restrain the landlord from terminating the lease, suspend its obligations until the problems are fixed and award $130,000 for lost income and damages.
The bakery is represented by Harrison attorney James R. Anderson.