Judge: Suffolk doesn't owe Toussie legal fees
A federal judge has emphatically denied real estate developer Robert Toussie's attempt to have Suffolk County pay millions in attorneys' fees after he won just a judgment of just $12,500 against the county.
Toussie, of Brooklyn, and his attorneys sought $2.7 million in legal fees from the county after losing most of a $30 million claim in U.S. District Court last year.
Judge Joanna Seybert said the request for fees by Toussie's attorneys was poorly documented, "excessive and unreasonable," "extraordinarily vague" and made in bad faith.
"Such conduct will not be tolerated and, accordingly, the court declines to award any attorneys' fees," Seybert wrote, noting the fee request was for more than 200 times what Toussie won at trial.
"We feel very gratified by the judge's decision," said county spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter. "It's a very strongly worded decision," said Assistant County Attorney Chris Termini.
Toussie's lead attorney, Abbe Lowell of Washington, did not respond to a request for comment.
Toussie said in his lawsuit that the county in 2001 unjustly refused to sell surplus land to him even though he was the highest bidder at auction. He said county officials again refused to sell him land at another auction in 2002 and then in 2004 barred him from bidding at all.
The jury agreed with only the 2004 claim, and awarded him the $12,500.
Toussie said in his suit that the county discriminated against him because his son Isaac was convicted of mail fraud in connection with the sale of the Chandler Estate in Mount Sinai to the county and because county officials relied on Newsday reports about his business activities.
Robert Toussie was never charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.
Isaac Toussie spent 5 months in federal prison and 5 months in home detention.
In 2010, Robert Toussie and a local mortgage bank agreed to pay $455,000 to settle a class-action suit accusing them of conspiring to sell shoddily built homes to more than 250 minority homeowners, although they denied the claims.