Interracial couple wins $640,000 fromManhattan co-op

Last month, a federal jury awarded $640,000 to a New York City man and woman who werediscriminated against when they attempted to sublet an apartment in an exclusiveneighborhood. The award included $410,000 in punitive damages for Gregory Broome, who isAfrican-American, and his wife, Shannon, who is white.

Co-op board member scribbled "BLACK MAN" on a notepad duringmeeting with couple
After an eight-day trial, the jury concluded that board members at Beekman Hill House, anexpensive East Manhattan co-op, had illegally discriminated against the interracialcouple. Evidence introduced at the trial included a notepad from one of the board members.The pad, used when discussing the Broomes' application, had the words "BLACKMAN" written on it.

Both Gregory and Shannon Broome are attorneys and suspected that they had beendiscriminated against after meeting with the co-op board. According to testimony, theBroomes just felt as though they hadn't been treated well. After their application tosublet an apartment was denied, they said that knew something was going on.

Nicholas Biondi, president of the board at Beekman Hill House, testified that theBroomes were not turned away because Gregory Broome was Black. Biondi said that he andother board members didn't want them to move in because Mr. Broome was"arrogant."

Judge Robert Carter, who presided over the trial, made a special noteabout Biondi's remark. He suggested that it was an example of the discrimination theBroomes had faced. "In earlier times, when the term was a little cruder, it wascalled uppity," Judge Carter said. Judge Carter even went as far as saying that theword "arrogant" is a "code name" used in the practice of racialdiscrimination.

Co-op president was warned about discrimination
During the trial, Michael Silverman, another member of the co-op board, testified that hehad warned Biondi about discriminating against the interracial couple. According to histestimony, in a conversation with Biondi, he said, "If you feel uneasy because Mr.Broome is Black, we will be sued because you cannot do that sort of thing."

Lawrence Wiener, also a co-op board member, testified that Biondi had described GregoryBroome as a "Black man" who was "angry, aggressive, difficult, andpushy." Wiener also testified that Biondi had tried to organize other board membersto reject the Broomes' application.

The Broomes were able to find an apartment less than a block away from Beekman HillHouse after their application was denied. Gregory Broome testified that although they wereable to find another apartment, he and his wife were very upset because they had"fallen in love" with the apartment at Beekman Hill House.