Residents of retirement home sue B’nai B’rith

(JTA) – Residents of a former B’nai B’rith retirement community near Pittsburgh have filed a lawsuit to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in entrance fee deposits.

The former Covenant at South Hills, located in Mount Lebanon, Pa., filed for bankruptcy last January and was acquired last month by Concordia Lutheran Ministries for $15 million, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

Concordia has not assumed responsibility for refunding deposits, which are substantial.

"For many residents, the entrance fees paid to the facility represented lifetime savings intended for their heirs,” the complaint claims.

Twenty-eight resident units are suing B’nai B’rith International, B’nai B’rith Housing, Inc. and its officers and directors to recover the deposits.

The suit, filed last week in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, alleges 13 counts of misconduct on the part of B’nai B’rith and its officers, according to the Chronicle. They include breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.

The facility, opened in 2002, represented B’nai B’rith’s first foray into the private senior housing market, according to the Chronicle.

“It’s striking in this case that the universal sentiment of the residents is that they purchased their apartment homes on the basis of B’nai B’rith’s good name and felt they were dealing with B’nai B’rith," the residents’ attorney, Howard Louik, told the newspaper. “They believed that B’nai B’rith would be looking out for their best interests and honor the Covenant’s commitments to them.”

B’nai B’rith, in response to inquiries from the Chronicle, issued a statement lamenting the impact of the B’nai B’rith Housing bankruptcy on Covenant at South Hills residents. It did not comment further, as "B’nai B’rith Housing, Inc. has not had an opportunity to review the complaint."
 

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