A married couple living in a swanky Upper East Side co-op in New York City haven’t been able to step foot onto their premises for more than two years. That’s about the time when an upstairs neighbor hired a contractor to do a “full gut” renovation of her apartment.
During the six-month renovation, the contractor – Global Group Industries Corporation – took no precautions to protect anyone from the asbestos-wrapped pipes in the walls and the high levels of lead in the old parquet floors and, soon, particles starting making their way through air vents and into the home directly below.
The owners, Ed and Marisa Greason, grabbed what they could and left. Since that time, they’ve been living separately with elderly parents and their life has been on hold.
“All our Christmas ornaments from 2014 are still in the living room,” Edward Greason told the New York Post. “It’s been a strain. We are living in overnight bags in two separate places.”
Greason isn’t overreacting. The couple has had the apartment tested a number of times and the results have been the same. With six different tests of dust particles, performed over the last two years, the presence of asbestos at unacceptable levels has been verified and levels of lead are 80 times the allowable limit according to federal guidelines.
The asbestos dust continues to invade their apartment through air vents and cracks that were caused by the renovations upstairs. Their two-bedroom unit has been declared “uninhabitable” so the Greason’s have had no choice but to sue the parties involved in the fiasco.
This includes the upstairs neighbor, the contractor responsible for the renovations, and the co-op board at the Sutton Place apartment building.
The board, says Greason, attempted a perfunctory clean-up of the apartment above them but dust still appears through the vents and cracks. They also told the couple that they were overreacting and it was suggested that they just “wipe up the dust with a wet cloth”, says Greason.
The couple is now asking the judge to demand a thorough environmental clean-up of their home. They are also seeking damages related to being forced out of their home for the last two years.
The Greasons are hoping they got out in time to avoid an abundance of exposure to the deadly asbestos dust, which can result in the development of diseases such as mesothelioma.
However, experts have deemed that any amount of exposure to the toxic mineral can result in lung-related illnesses, many which don’t appear until decades after exposure.
For the Greasons, it will just be a wait-and-see situation, which no doubt adds to their stress.