Del. Michael Gisriel, owner of a condominium at 713 St. Paul St., is being sued for $50,000 by the owner of another condominium in the building who claims Gisriel's negligence resulted in a water leak that ruined her home and valued possessions.
Nicole A. Narboni, 26, claims that the failure of Gisriel, D-Balto. Co., to correct a water leak in his condominium resulted in a "waterfall" that ruined furniture, carpeting, artwork and lighting.
Perhaps the most valued loss was an an $8,000 baby-grand piano that was a gift from her grandmother, she said.
"The piano was totaled," said Narboni, a doctoral student in piano performance at the Peabody Institute. "I hated to lose it. My grandmother played the piano while she was still living. It had been in the family for a long time. It had great sentimental value. It was my constant companion."
Gisriel, 39, a lawyer who is running for his second term in the legislature, said Narbon's loss was "unfortunate," adding: "It's not clear who is at fault here."
According to the suit, filed March 5 in Baltimore Circuit Court, water began dripping from the windowsills in Narboni's bedroom the evening of Dec. 23, 1989. The leak apparently originated in a vacant unit owned by Gisriel.
The suit charges that the heat and electricity were shut off in Gisriel's unit after a renter moved out. A cold spell subsequently hit the city, freezing and bursting water pipes in Gisriel's unheated unit, the suit says.
Gisriel tried to have the unit's power restored Dec. 18. But he failed to make arrangements to have utility workers admitted into the building so they could do the work, court records show.
On Christmas Eve, Narboni left for San Antonio, Texas, to see her parents. "I left only after he reassured me in every way that he would have something done," she said.
But on Dec. 26, according to the suit, city firefighters called her parents' home to ask how to get into Narboni's apartment. Water was leaking and they wanted to shut off the power to prevent an electrical fire.
"A tenant, Hannah Grausz, said she heard what sounded like a waterfall," Narboni said.
The suit said that when Grausz, president of the condo association, reported the "flood" to Gisriel, he responded: "What do you expect me to do about it?"
For his part, Gisriel denies liability for the damages. "I feel that my actions were reasonable under the circumstances," he states in court documents. "Further, I do not feel that I acted negligently.