A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a 9/11 first responder seeking damages for alleged nuisance, infliction of emotional distress and assault arising from the construction of Cordoba House, a planned Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan. The suit was filed by Vincent Forras, who rents office space, which he says he also uses as a part-time residence, several blocks north of the planned center. The suit targets Cordoba House and the owner of the site. It originally purported to be a class action on behalf of “individuals working, residing, frequenting, visiting and traveling within New York City currently and at the time of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,” but Forras later withdrew the class allegations.
He alleged the people behind Cordoba House are linked with terrorist groups and that its presence in lower Manhattan was intended as a “return to the ‘scene’ of prior terror attacks…instilling greater terror and severe emotional distress on the populace.”
In an order entered this week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings (See Profile) dismissed the suit, finding that Forras had failed to allege any threatening conduct on the part of the defendants. She said in Forras v. Rauf, 111970/10, that “the very distance between plaintiff’s premises and defendants’ activity of which plaintiff complains poses an obvious impediment to showing any nuisance, extreme or outrageous conduct as required for infliction of emotional distress, or assaultive conduct that would emanate from a religious institution to cause injury several blocks away.”