Peter B. Zlotnick

Commercial Litigation

Partner | (212) 687-2175 |

LOCATION: New York City

Peter B. Zlotnick practices as a commercial litigator, focusing on real estate matters and complex construction defect litigation.  His clients include commercial and residential developers, co-op and condominium boards, design professionals, private equity firms and high net worth individuals. He also litigates corporate governance, business torts, bankruptcy and other types of business disputes. In addition, Peter serves as a federal equity receiver in consumer fraud federal equity receiverships for the Federal Trade Commission.

Litigation matters can take years. How do you address your clients’ concerns?

I manage expectations through good communication. I believe litigation is a loopback system. I constantly re-evaluate what the client’s goals and needs are and then discuss what our expectations can and should realistically be for the short and long term. It’s looking at what I can deliver, whether we’re the defendant or the plaintiff.

“Success means improving my relationships with those around me, particularly my clients and colleagues. It also means identifying what my client’s needs and objectives are and then executing on those needs and objectives. If one can do that, then one is successful.”

What are some of the more significant matters you’ve handled?

One trial that comes to mind involved a real estate partnership. We asked the court for a mandatory injunction, requiring one partner to grant his consent to a multi-million dollar wraparound mortgage of a series of commercial properties. After a multi-day trial, the court granted our injunction and required the partner to grant his consent. The case went to the New York State Court of Appeals. The Appellate Division unanimously upheld the lower court decision. It was a multi-year battle that set major legal precedent in regard to fiduciary duties and real estate partnerships.

Another major case was a $35 million wireless telecommunications fraud that I worked on, FTC v. Metropolitan Communications Corp; 94 Civ 0142. (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (JSR).  It was my first federal equity receivership.  I represented the receiver, who on day one of the receivership had to figure out how to recover approximately $35 million worth of wireless telecommunications licenses.  The Federal Communications Commission had issued the licenses on a “first come/first serve basis”; these were quickly becoming worthless because the defendants had deceived consumers into believing they could acquire and operate those licenses at a cost and in a manner that they could not do.    The defendants had misrepresented to consumers that they could build and operate their systems for $7,500, when the actual cost to do so was approximately $250,000.   The problem was that these FCC licenses were wasting assets; if the consumers did not construct and operate their cellular systems within eight months of acquiring them, they would lose those licenses.  This is exactly what happened to many consumers by the time the receiver was appointed.   To make matters worse, the rest of the licenses were about to expire.  We petitioned the FCC to grant a waiver of its eight-month use it-or-lose-it rule.  Prior to the receiver’s petition, the FCC had never granted such a petition.  With the endorsement of two United States Senators, the receivership team obtained a rule waiver from the Commission.  A four month extension of the eight-month time period was granted for each license obtained by the receivership on behalf of the defendants’ customers, including those consumers whose licenses had already expired.  This enabled us to bundle all the licenses together and sell them as a package to Nextel Corp.  As a result of that rule waiver and the license sale transaction, more than 4,000 consumers received all of their money back, and Nextel went on to become a major player in the wireless telecommunications marketplace.

What’s been a defining moment in your career?

I would have to say the most defining moment was when I was appointed to be receiver of Five Star Auto Club in FTC vs. Five Star Auto Club. It was a great honor to be appointed an equity receiver in an action brought by the Federal Trade Commission.  It was a multi-million dollar fraud. It was brought to trial; I participated as the receivership entity. The court ultimately liquidated Five Star Auto Club and ordered the defendants to pay millions in consumer redress.  The case made precedent and is cited to this day in many FTC cases and other receivership cases.

How are you active in your local community?

I currently sit on the 82nd Street Partnership, which is a Business Improvement District (BID) in Jackson Heights-Corona, Queens. I’ve also served on the advisory board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the Metro New York area. I’m active in local Bar Associations and on Bar committees. Additionally, I’m very active in my synagogue, and I coach many of my kids’ sports teams.

There are many law firms in the New York City area. What made Farrell Fritz stand out for you as a partner?

What made Farrell Fritz different for me was the overwhelming focus on the long term – everyone seemed to be looking at the future of law, the future of the community and the future of our clients and how the firm will contribute to each. Taking this long-term approach to client relationships is, for me, the most fulfilling and the most enriching way to achieve success.