Foggy Bottom resident Donald Kreuzer’s lawsuit against GW was defeated for a second time last week. But his lawyer said the longtime resident still isn’t ready to give up his case.
Kreuzer, a dentist who works in the Watergate complex, has been bringing suits against the University since May 2003, alleging that the construction of Ivory Tower trespassed on his property; he owns three townhouses at 23rd Street and Virginia Avenue.
He also contended that GW was using students to intimidate him into leaving the community, called blockbusting, and that University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg defamed Kreuzer in a 2003 Hatchet interview by saying that he was “inhaling.”
The suit was initially thrown out in 2004 by District Judge James Boasberg, and Kreuzer was ordered to pay GW $36,559.72 in legal fees. Kreuzer pleaded his case in the D.C. Count of Appeals in February, and the decision to deny the appeal was handed down last Thursday by a panel of three judges. Kreuzer’s attorney, J. Michael Hannon, said they plan to petition the appeal decision.
“I have only one comment,” Hannon said in an interview this week. “We’re going to be asking the full court of the Court of Appeals to hear the case.” Kreuzer did not return phone calls from The Hatchet this week.
GW Senior Counsel Charles Barber said at this point Kreuzer has two options – he can either ask the three-person panel to rehear the case or he can appeal to have the full appeals court hear it.
The trespassing charge was dismissed by the Court of Appeals, according to court documents, because GW legally owned the property on which it built and had a clear economic incentive to build Ivory Tower as quickly as possible because of neighborhood pressure. GW’s Campus Plan states that the University must house all freshman and sophomore students on campus.
Barber said the blockbusting charge was thrown out because it was not filed in time and because it was an unconventional use for the charge.
“Historically that’s been used in the context of dividing a neighborhood racially,” Barber said.
The court documents said the charge of defamation was dismissed because Trachtenberg was clearly using the term “inhaling” in a metaphorical way.
“It is manifest that Trachtenberg meant that (Dr. Kreuzer) was seeking an outlandish sum of money,” not that he was “smoking marijuana,” D.C. Appeals Court Associate Judge Michael W. Farrell wrote in the decision’s opinion.
Kreuzer has owned his townhouses since 1974, before his block was primarily GW-owned. More than two years ago, as the 729-bed Ivory Tower dorm was being built, GW offered to buy Kreuzer’s three townhouses, but he refused the offer, arguing that he was being offered less than market value for his property.
According to a Hatchet article printed in 2003, Kreuzer’s townhouses were worth $366,600, $258,000 and $289,990 at the time, based on data from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. Trachtenberg said in a 2003 interview that at one point, GW had offered about $2 million for the homes, but the same article quoted Kreuzer as saying he had never been offered that much.