Manhattan condo owner sues a NY Burger King for $15 mil, accusing the franchise of allowing an 'open air drug bazaar'

  • A NYC resident and condo owner has filed a $15 million lawsuit against Burger King.

  • The lawsuit alleges that a Manhattan Burger King location has allowed "rampant drug dealing."

  • Manhattan's Fulton Street has been turned into an "open air drug bazaar," the lawsuit says.

This New Yorker has multimillion dollar beef with Burger King.

New York City resident and condo owner, Kevin Kaufman, is suing the fast food giant for $15 million in damages, alleging that a Manhattan Burger King has allowed "rampant drug dealing" in and around the franchise, resulting in a "neighborhood nightmare."

Kaufman's lawsuit, filed earlier this month in New York State Supreme Court, accuses the franchise of allowing "professional drug dealers" to operate in broad daylight in front of and inside the Burger King located at 106 Fulton Street in Manhattan's Financial District. Kaufman calls it "impossible" for the burger chain to be "unaware" of the "dangerous" situation.

A Burger King spokesperson told Business Insider that they are addressing the situation.

"While we do not comment on active litigation, we are in touch with the Franchisee of this location to determine the best course of action to address this situation with the support of local law enforcement," a spokesperson said Tuesday.

Business Insider could not immediately reach the owner of the Burger King franchise for comment. But the owner, Lalmir Sultanzada, told the New York Post that he's also struggling with the problem.

"They're hanging around, they throw everything inside the stores. A couple of times they hit one of my managers," Sultanzada told the news outlet, explaining that he's not the one "selling drugs."

"It's not me. Go talk with the government, talk with the police department, talk with the mayor, talk with the governor," he said. "They have to find a solution for those bums, not me."

According to Burger King's company website, all potential franchise owners are required to have a total net worth of at least $1 million and at least $500,000 in liquid assets. Opening a franchise with Burger King currently costs $50,000 up front, and owners accrue other monthly or annual charges that include royalties, advertising, and building improvements, the website says.

Court document, Burger King
A condo owner in downtown Manhattan accuses a nearby Burger King franchise of allowing an "open air drug bazaar" in the neighborhood.New York County Clerk

'Open air drug bazaar'

The lawsuit says that the defendants — Burger King Holdings Inc. and the Burger King restaurant — have helped transform Fulton Street into an "open air drug bazaar" with dealers using the franchise as a "base of operation."

"The operation of the drug dealers at this Burger King attracts drug addicts, drunks, and emotionally disturbed people who have been terrorizing the neighborhood for months," the lawsuit says, alleging the "quality of life that is crucial for a neighborhood's well being has been jeopardized, profoundly harmed, and destroyed by the nature of this illegal activity."

The lawsuit says that Fulton Street residents are "afraid" to leave their apartments and the value of condos on the block "has plummeted as a direct result of Defendants' outrageous and unethical tolerance of drug activity."

"The dangerous, illegal, and outrageous activity" of the defendants "has caused and is causing irreparable harm" to Kaufman, who lives just steps away from burger joint and is the vice chairman of a local nonprofit called the Fulton Street Coalition, the lawsuit says.

NYPD says its 'aware' of the concerns at the Burger King

Last October, a New York Police Department captain met with Burger King reps about the drug activity, according to the lawsuit, which says, "Fulton Street is now a neighborhood in crisis."

An NYPD spokesperson told BI that the department's 1st Precinct "is aware of the community's concerns at 106 Fulton Street."

"The NYPD deploys our officers where crime is reported – in response to community complaints. The stretch of Fulton Street from Nassau Street to William Street is a constant focus" for the 1st Precinct, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson noted that since last year "there have been over 600 directed patrols and community visits by 1st Precinct Officers, including the Commanding Officer, and we will continue to address all conditions as the community expects we should."

A total of 143,911 calls have been made to the address 106 Fulton Street since January 1, 2023, according to the NYPD. That figure includes the entire building that the Burger King is located in, as well as in front and in back of the location.

Meanwhile, Kaufman's lawsuit claims that he is "entitled to a preliminary injunction to stop Defendants from terrorizing his neighborhood and turning Fulton Street into an open air drug bazaar."

The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial, also accuses the defendants of "engaging in a private nuisance by tolerating rampant drug dealing" at the Burger King location.

Read the original article on Business Insider