“Law & Order” star S. Epatha Merkerson has filed a lawsuit against the co-op board and manager of her Riverside Drive building (in Harlem), alleging that they endangered her life by recklessly renovating her apartment.
The board allowed the manager to seal off the ventilation to Merkerson’s gas stove without telling her in 2008, creating the risk of an explosion, the suit alleges.
The board and building manager “left plaintiff in jeopardy of her life as the gases could have backed up, exploded or otherwise caused serious harm,” the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court reads.
Merkerson, whose character Lt. Anita Van Buren was diagnosed with cancer in the final season of the show, is seeking as much as $9 million in damages, along with a court order to complete renovations to her apartment.
In court papers, Merkerson charges she had problems with the three-bedroom apartment on the 12th floor of the building — known for its sweeping views of the Hudson River and former occupants like book publisher Bennett Cerf and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael — since she bought it for $1.7 million in 2002. The roof, she alleges, was in such bad shape that she had to move out while it was being repaired.
Feeling ignored by the co-op board and manager, Midboro Management, Merkerson said she eventually opted to sell the moldy, dilapidated apartment, but was unable to find any buyers.
In 2008, it went on the market for $1.3 million, according to the website StreetEasy. By July 2010 the pricetag had plummeted to $850,000, and was taken off the market four months later.
In court filings Merkerson notes extensive water damage, as well as an architect who told her that the building’s exterior brick walls have cracked.
Midboro did not return a call seeking comment.