Billy Joel Settles Lawsuit Over Home Renovations
By Chris O'Neill
Star recording artist and Centre Island resident Billy Joel has settled a lawsuit with a contractor company that sued Joel after they were fired by him.
The company, Berry Hill Development Corporation of Woodbury, owned by Paul Laruccia, was hired in Sept 2018 to renovate the Piano Man’s home, located on 29 acres of waterfront property in Centre Island.
The renovation was to cost $1.9 million but that amount rose to $7.5 million after additional work was proposed.
Joel and his wife Alexis terminated cooperation with Berry Hill in Nov 2019, after a structural engineer’s report indicated structural damage. Berry Hill, which says it had been paid $2 million for $2.6 million of work done then sued for the difference, part of the billable amount of uncompleted work, plus $16.25 million in unspecified damages, interest and attorney’s fees.
Berry Hill alleges that proper procedures were not followed in its termination. They also alleged a "copyright violation," claiming that the next contractor hired - Neil James Stufano of Caine Architecture - submitted ‘nearly identical’ architectural plans to the Centre Island building inspectors. Berry Hill claimed that the plans that had cost over $126,000 to make, and that they held "intellectual property" rights to the plans.
Joel's attorney said that the successor contractor Stufano filed plans that were "much more comprehensive.” He also observed that “since we are talking about an existing house, there are certainly a lot of similarities, but such similarities aren't copyrightable."