Dean Estates tenants offered gift cards over liability

Posted 11/15/23

Following the catastrophic flooding at Dean Estates, newly homeless tenants were asked to sign away any chance of recompense in exchange for a gift card.

The Cranston Herald has received …

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Dean Estates tenants offered gift cards over liability


Following the catastrophic flooding at Dean Estates, newly homeless tenants were asked to sign away any chance of recompense in exchange for a gift card.

The Cranston Herald has received documents confirming claims made by Attorney Kenneth Schreiber, who represents the almost 30 former tenants of Dean Estates, in a press conference on November 10 alleging that tenants of Dean Estates were asked by representatives of Winn Management, the company that manages the now uninhabitable apartment, to sign release forms which would terminate their lease, entitle the tenant to $500, and “release(s) and forever discharge(s) each of the entities comprising Landlord and their respective members…from any and all claims or liabilities for damage to personal property related to the flood at the Premises.”

The Cranston Herald has verified the authenticity of the “Lease Termination and Release Agreement” with Elizabeth Hernandez, a representative of Winn Management. Tenants were asked to sign the document upon visiting the offices at Royale Estates, another property managed by Winn Management, to collect their September rent and security deposits, which the company promised to return to the tenants following the flooding.

Schreiber called upon Winn Management to tear up these release forms. Schreiber at the time of the press conference said that he had not yet seen the release, but claims the tenants who signed the documents signed them out of desperation and were therefore not of “sound mind” at the time. Furthermore he claims that the tenants may not have fully understood what they were signing.

“These are not lawyers,” he said. “These are lay people.”

Wayne Walker, a representative of the tenants of Dean Estates, said that as of Nov. 13, they had confirmed that three of the tenants signed the release agreement.

Schreiber asked Winn Management, and any other entities involved in the matter, to come forward and resolve the claims in good faith. Other entities include Merowitz Properties, which currently owns Dean Estates. Schreiber says ownership of the building has changed hands several times in the last several years, which may mean an indemnification agreement would protect Merowitz from any claims. Schreiber says that would be discovered in litigation, but that he hopes it won’t come to that.

Schreiber said “The reality here is that all the people that I represent, they don't have the time to litigate this case for ten years, or five years, or two years.”

Dean Estates has been prone to flooding for over a decade, and there is an ongoing lawsuit filed by a former owner of Dean Estates against the city of Cranston and the state of Rhode Island.

The Cranston Herald reached out to Mayor Ken Hopkins for comment in regards to Dean Estates. Following the flooding, Mayor Hopkins stated his intention to write an executive order disallowing the management of Dean Estates from renting out basement apartments until an investigation into the storm drain which caused the flooding was completed. Mayor Hopkins told the Herald on Nov. 13 that executive order could not be signed due to an ongoing lawsuit with the LLC. He also was unable to comment on the status of the investigation into the storm drain.

The Mayor went on to say that the people of Cranston responded very admirably following the flood to help the displaced tenants get the help they needed. He had spoken with each of the tenants and was still in communication with Walker, as well as social organizations such as the Comprehensive Community Action Program which continues to offer aid to the displaced tenants. 

When asked for comment, Ed Cafasso, a representative of Winn Management responded with this statement:

“The news release issued last Friday by Schreiber & Schreiber contains several false statements.

 Since the September 10th flooding, we have been working to clean up damage and make repairs, where possible, and to keep the storm drains on the property clear in advance of rainy forecasts. The flooding was caused by unusual torrential downpours, which overwhelmed nearby storm drains not located on the Dean Estates property.

 Access to eight badly damaged apartments had been restricted for safety reasons until recently. In the past few weeks, structural repairs were completed to make it safe for the former residents to get their personal belongings. We sympathize with residents whose lives were disrupted by this unfortunate natural disaster, and we appreciate how the Cranston community has stepped up to help them.”

Dean Estates, gift cards


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  • wtny

    I have only recently subscribed to your paper and have appreciated some the more in-depth reporting you have done, for example, the solar panel farm in Johnston. I live down the street from the Dean Estates, right off the bike path. I feel so bad for the families and individuals that have been impacted by this situation. Having read in other places that this property has been a source of flooding for years yet continues to be allowed to reopen, I was wondering if the paper may want to look into the history of the property and its relationship to the city and it's owners? I have this fear that this residence could reopen in a few years with nothing being done to address the flooding issues.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2023 Report this