Attorney Stephen Meister Sues Former Client Joe Moinian
Daniel Geiger March 16, 2012, 1:02 p.m.
Real estate litigation attorney Stephen Meister has slapped landlord Joe Moinian with a lawsuit alleging Mr. Moinian stiffed him on $230,000 in legal fees.
Mr. Meister, a well known attorney in the city, has represented Mr. Moinian in a number of cases, including at the office building 3 Columbus Circle. In that suit, Mr. Meister battled back the real estate magnate Stephen Ross from foreclosing on the property, buying Mr. Moinian time to recapitalize the property with SL Green in what was one of the highest profile litigation cases in the industry last year.
Mr. Meister has also represented Mr. Moinian at 95 Wall Street, a building he sold last year, and also 85 Broad Street in a suit there against former tenant Goldman Sachs.
Mr. Meister’s suit, obtained by The Commercial Observer, does not specify which cases he is allegedly owed payment for. According to the complaint, Mr. Meister began working for Mr. Moinian in June 2009 and that by December 1, 2011, Mr. Moinian had not paid $230,791.15 in legal bills.
Mr. Meister is being represented in house at his Midtown law firm Meister Seelig & Fein by company attorney Howard Koh.
Mr. Meister’s suit isn’t the first time Mr. Moinian, a landlord who owns several commercial and residential buildings in the city, has been hit with accusations of failing to pay his bills.
Several people with knowledge of Mr. Moinian’s business practices say that he routinely falls behind on payments he owes.
Mr. Meister ironically represented Mr. Moinian at 95 Wall Street in suits launched by contractors who had helped Mr. Moinian convert the building from an office property into residential rental units and then claimed he owed them for the work.
At 3 Columbus, before Mr. Moinian could recapitalize the property, Mr. Ross’s attorneys alleged he had been delinquent on the building’s mortgage for months.
“Most normal people will pay a bill when they get an invoice, but the way Joe works, he acts as if he considers a judge’s ruling or a court summons to be his invoice,” said one source who had encountered Mr. Moinian’s tightfistedness first hand.
Mr. Meister, a frequent guest on Fox News and a prolific attorney in the city, is perhaps the highest profile individual to come after Mr. Moinian for payment.
In an email statement to The Commercial Observer he seemed to suggest that Mr. Moinian simply needed to be pressured to fork over the money he owes.
“Joe will pay me; he just needs a little motivation,” Mr. Meister wrote.
Mr. Moinian could not be reached for comment by press time.