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MURPHY v. 253 GARTH TENANTS CORP.
September 29, 1983
CATHERINE T. MURPHY, PATRICIA MURPHY, MICHAEL UGLIAROLO, and SUSAN UGLIAROLO, Plaintiffs,
253 GARTH TENANTS CORP., and EDWARD ODESSER, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET
Plaintiffs Catherine T. Murphy ("Catherine"), her daughter Patricia Murphy ("Patricia") and Michael Ugliarolo and Susan Franzino Ugliarolo (the "Ugliarolos") have initiated this action against defendants 253 Garth Tenants Corp. (the "Cooperative") and its President Edward Odesser ("Odesser"), alleging that the Cooperative and Odesser discriminated against Catherine and Patricia in refusing to approve the transfer of the Ugliarolo's shares in the Cooperative to either Catherine or Patricia in violation of 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 3601-3631, an allegation denied by the Cooperative and Odesser. The action was tried before the court and upon the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, judgment will be entered granting the relief sought in the complaint.
This unfortunate, painful and uncompromisable action presents squarely two difficult questions, one of fact and one of law. The first is whether or not the defendants have presented credible evidence to establish a negative, namely, that their decision to deny Catherine or Patricia the right to acquire the shares of the Cooperative was not based on sex or national origin. The second is whether, as a matter of law, a subjective, non-discriminatory reason for denial of the right to acquire shares in a cooperative can defeat a prima facie claim of discrimination against Catherine on the grounds that she is female and was born in Ireland. These difficult issues were presented concisely and with force by very able advocates in a one-day proceeding. Because I conclude that my findings with respect to the credibility of the witnesses are controlling, the complaint will be dismissed.
Catherine and Joseph Murphy were married for thirteen years and had five children, one of the eldest of which was Patricia. A divorce occurred, and Joseph and Jo Ann Murphy have been married for the past twelve years. Jo Ann is in the real estate business. Despite the divorce, according to counsel, the Murphys are an "extended family." As Joseph Murphy testified by deposition:
You see, obviously, I am in a number of businesses, banking business, real estate business, internationally and domestically, and I also have a very substantial, myself, net worth and fairly diversified business.
My wife Jo Ann has two businesses up in Scarsdale, a real estate business and an antique shop, and we have a family partnership which we use for securities and so on and so forth.
My wife Catherine, my former wife Catherine, and I have five children and I have just taken it upon myself with, I guess, everybody's consent over a long period of time to manage entirely the affairs of the group, including their residences and their houses and so on and so forth.
We have had a number of different houses as the children have gone away to college and three of them have now graduated from college and one is going to graduate school and the fourth one is about to graduate. We have attempted to make arrangements through Jo Ann for various places of abode, either giving them the option of coming back to the home, which I don't think that they would be very interested in, or locating them somewhere around the area of Scarsdale.
So part of the confusion regarding finance is related to the complexity of my own financial structure, which is family partnerships and different pieces of real estate that I own, different companies that I'm involved with.
I probably own five or six, seven different companies. All of those are managed by Jo Ann. I mean the finances of them are managed by Jo Ann and the cash management is centrally managed by Jo Ann, some of it through a bookkeeper in her office, some of it through an accountant which is a separate accountant.
So, for instance, when Catherine wants money, we just deposit it automatically into her account. Every week we deposit to the kids' account. We make deposits to -- the kids own real estate directly themselves. They receive distributions which I sign the checks for and go into their accounts.
So it's a centralized management system which some of them may or may not be aware of, you know, where and how the funds are circulated or coming from.
We have a family partnership account which I set up last year, which effectively does the same thing. When they receive cash, I put it into the family partnership and I centralize the administration of it.
Real estate, my net worth is well in excess of seven figures and probably eight figures or more. So I need a very sophisticated system in order to handle this. But one of my goals has been to try to keep everybody living around that Scarsdale area and provide for them.
So when things like apartments come up, Catherine need not be aware of Jo Ann being out in the market looking at or looking for apartments or attempting to find places to live and this is, let's say, the third house that we have had in the area that we are in right now, ...
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