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ECBA attorneys represent the Public Advocate in an action to unseal grand jury materials in the Eric Garner case

ECBA on behalf of the New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James, filed an action to unseal grand jury materials related to the killing of Eric Garner by NYPD officers in Staten Island. On December 10, 2014, Richmond County Supreme Court Justice Stephen Rooney ordered that Ms. James’s motion must itself be filed in secret and withheld from the public. Ms. James then lodged an emergency appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department, which swiftly ruled in her favor and directed that her motion be disclosed and made available to the public. In the wake of this ruling, Justice Rooney has scheduled a public hearing for December 19, 2014 on whether to unseal grand jury materials related to the death of Eric Garner. ECBA attorneys Matthew D. Brinckerhoff and R. Orion Danjuma are representing the Public Advocate in this action.

To read The New York Law Journal coverage, click here. To read The New York Observer coverage, click here.

 

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Court Orders Madoff Ponzi Scheme Documents Turned Over to European Court

In a matter of “first impression” in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady successfully obtained materials concerning the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme for use in a Swiss criminal proceeding. The Court held that the materials sought were appropriately subject to disclosure under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a statute that permits discovery in the United States for use in foreign or international proceedings. Rejecting arguments that the Swiss proceeding was not a “foreign or international tribunal” as that term is defined in the statute, the Court held that the Swiss proceeding is “exactly the type of proceeding” that the statute is intended to reach. ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Sam Shapiro litigated the case on behalf of a Swiss national.

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$5 Million Settlement Awarded to Brothers Starved by their Foster Parents

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady settled a $5 million lawsuit against the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”) for neglecting to remove four brothers from the custody of foster parents who had been systematically starving their adopted children. Under the care of the Jackson parents, the oldest brother, age 19, stood at four feet tall and weighed 45 pounds. The three younger brothers, ages 14, 10, and 9, each weighed less than 40 pounds. The DYFS placed the children in the custody of the Jackson family and made numerous visits to the family home. Despite contact with the obviously abused children and warnings from case workers, the DYFS failed to remove the boys from the Jacksons’ custody. The three youngest brothers were represented by ECBA founding partner Richard Emery. To read the New York Times’ coverage of the settlement, click here.

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$5 Million Settlement for Family of Children Killed in Fire

On December 10, 2014, after years of litigation, Matthew Badger, the father of three daughters killed in a fire in 2011, reached a settlement for $5 million against one defendant, Michael Borcina, the girls’ mother’s boyfriend and contractor responsible for renovating their home. The fire, which broke out on December 25, 2011, in Stamford, Connecticut, was the result of gross negligence on the part of Borcina, who failed to install even the most rudimentary fire safety equipment—including smoke detectors and fire alarms—as he renovated the home.

ECBA attorneys Richard Emery, Ilann Maazel, and Sam Shapiro represent Mr. Badger. Though pleased with the result, Mr. Emery is confident that this settlement is only the first step, as the lawsuit continues against other parties, including the City of Stamford. According to Richard Emery, this amount “is nowhere near reflective of the ultimate value of this case: three little girls’ lives.” “No money could compensate for that.” To read a New York Post article on the settlement, click here.

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New York City and Officer Found Liable in Fatal ’05 Shooting of Leonel Disla

After less than an hour of deliberations, a unanimous jury in Bronx Supreme Court found New York City and an NYPD Sergeant liable for the shooting death of 19-yr old Leonel Disla on October 30, 2005. Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman and paralegal Ian Wahrenbrock represented the Disla family at trial. Prior ECBA lawyers and paralegals who represented the Disla estate include Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Earl Ward, Elora Mukherjee, Alba Morales, Leda DeRosa, and Jessica Buchanan.

To read more, click here.

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New York City and State Agree to pay $6.7 million in settlements for Wrongful Conviction Cases

The City and State have agreed to pay $6.7 million to the widow of Israel Vasquez, who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for more than 12 years for a 1995 homicide. Mr. Vasquez was jointly indicted with five others for two separate homicides, that of a taxi driver and a Federal Express employee. ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, David Lebowitz and Orion Danjuma, together with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC represent Mr. Vasquez’s widow. ECBA, along with Julia Kuan, also represent Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, two of the five other wrongfully convicted individuals who spent 18 years in prison for two murders they did not commit. Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez’s cases are still pending. To read the New York Times coverage, click here.

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United States District Judge denies Pine Bush Central School District’s motion for summary judgment

In a 76-page opinion today, United States District Judge Kenneth M. Karas denied Pine Bush Central School District’s motion for summary judgment. The School District sought dismissal of a case brought by five Jewish students represented by ECBA, who were the victims of severe and pervasive anti-Semitic harassment and bullying at school. The bullying included anti-Semitic slurs, Holocaust jokes, physical assaults, coin throwing, white power chants, Hitler salutes, and anti-Semitic graffiti on textbooks, lockers, walls, desks, and a classroom poster of President Obama. In denying the District’s attempt to dismiss the case, Judge Karas ruled that a jury could reasonably find that the children had “suffered severe and discriminatory harassment, that the district had actual knowledge of the harassment, and that the district was deliberately indifferent to the harassment” and that the district “failed to take reasonable steps to combat anti-Semitic harassment.” The Plaintiffs are represented by Ilann M. Maazel, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Zoe Salzman of ECBA, as well as Public Justice, P.C., and Michael Meth, Esq.

To read Judge Karas’ opinion, click here. To read the New York Times’ reporting on the decision, click here.

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