We were notified by mail of where to go, Landlord and Tenant Court in downtown Brooklyn. When we got there no announcement was listed on the directory of what room we would be in, but after a brief inquire of the lobby clerk we were directed to a small court room.
Upon retrospect we should have known that something was odd as soon as we entered. But we were really young. The only people in the room were the judge, seated high behind his bench, Vincent, Lambagini’s nervous attorney, and us. There was no court officer, or stenographer. No one sitting on the hard oak benches waiting their turn. It was like we were all characters in a play standing in position until the curtain was drawn. If you have ever been to Landlord/Tenant Court in Brooklyn you know there are usually hoards of people milling around, and benches inside the courtroom fully occupied as people waited impatiently to be called. At these times agitation permeated the air. Not so this day.
Our proceeding began at once. The judge listened to our side of the story. He asked one or two appropriate questions, and jotted down notes. We told him of the conditions of the building and that it was being managed by Dominick of Dumb Realty. We explained the lack of any handrail, no heat, and no repairs to the building in all the time we had been living there. He asked if Dumb were the owners of the building. Vincent promptly told him no. The judge then ordered that we could not continue with the case until such a time that the owner of the building was present. Vincent bolted out of his seat, and asked if he could approach the bench. He rushed up to whisper into the judge’s ear. By the expression on his honor’s lined face it was the first time he learned it was actually Carlo Lambagini who he was ordering to appear in his courtroom. I can only assume he already knew that this hearing was a farce, but didn’t know how high up in the organization the building’s owner ranked.
The judge paled, cleared his throat, and nodded a few more times. Looking very official he informed us as soon as the building’s owner was notified that he must appear in court we would be sent notification of the new court date. That was the last time we heard from Landlord/Tenant court on the law suit, to this day.
Dumb Realty didn’t collect rent from us for ten months after the court fiasco, which when added was the exact amount we had sued for. Nor did they put heat in the building ,which we did and paid for ourselves. After all was said and done the numbers worked out perfectly. No loss no gain.
Carlo Lambagini came by a couple of times because he loved the smell of Italian gravy cooking on my stove, especially when my little old grandmother was visiting and stirring the pot. She spoke to him in Sicilian of course, and he was duly respectful of her.