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Call Cousin Vinny, quick!

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Posted: 11 am ET

Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei could use a little help from a crafty New York lawyer to settle an insurance lawsuit brought by a notably eccentric neighbor in her Greenwich Village apartment building.

If this sounds like the setup for an outrageous John Waters movie, you're half right: the notably eccentric neighbor in question is none other than the pencil-thin-mustachioed auteur director of such B-movie classics as "Hairspray," "Cry-Baby" and "Pink Flamingos."

Three Chubb Group insurance companies representing Waters, another downstairs neighbor and a New York bank filed suit recently in Manhattan against the "My Cousin Vinny" star for $128,756 in water damage they claim was caused by a September 2010 leak in Tomei's 11th floor apartment at 59 West 12th St. in Greenwich Village.

The suit claims that Tomei's "negligence" caused $15,079 damage to Waters' condo in 8D, $80,451 damage to unit 10BC owned by Michael Baron, and $33,227 to unit 10D owned by the Bank of New York Mellon. Exact cause of the leak was not specified in the lawsuit.

According to The Huffington Post, Waters said via email that the standard insurance claim was out of his hands and that he had no animosity toward his actress neighbor.

Although Tomei won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mona Lisa Vito in the 1992 comedy, lawyer Vinny Gambini, played by Joe Pesci, was her fiance, not her cousin, in the film. The pair was summoned to the deep South to help spring Vinny's cousin Bill, played by Ralph Macchio.

Water damage can be tricky and litigious in an apartment or condo setting. Typically, when the source of the water originates from outside the home, your homeowners insurance will cover the property damage and your insurer will then subrogate, or recover damages from the responsible party, on your behalf, as Chubb is doing in the Tomei case. In other scenarios, the apartment or condo association's insurance can come into play as well.

One reader's comment to an Insurance Journal story on the Tomei lawsuit did offer an intriguing suggestion as to the cause of the damage:

"I wonder if Costanza was somehow involved."

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1 Comment
February 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm

"My Cousin Vinny" was a silly movie made by bigots, for bigots, & starring bigots. Such movies make me long for the day when someone nukes Hollywood straight to Hell.