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ECBA Co-counsel Charles J. Ogletree speaks out on the historic 50th anniversary of the March on Washington

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., distinguished Harvard Law School Professor; teacher and advisor to President Barak Obama; and ECBA co-counsel, speaks out on the historic 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and the Broad Side: The news with Jime Braude.

To watch the interview with Rachel Maddow, click  here and to watch the interview with Jim Braude, click  here.

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ECBA Files Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Mineola, New York Apartment Building

ECBA filed a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court on behalf of ERASE Racism, a Long Island-based non-profit organization, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), and three African American testers against the owner and manager of Town House Apartments in Mineola, New York. The Complaint alleges that African Americans were not shown the same apartments that whites were shown, were quoted a higher monthly rent, and were told to call back in a month or more later because there are people waiting ahead of them for the next available apartment. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk and Samuel Shapiro of ECBA.

To read the complaint, click here.

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ECBA Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against National Housing Developer

Today, ECBA filed a disability discrimination lawsuit in federal court (S.D.N.Y) on behalf of Suzanne Vilchez, a paralyzed woman who uses a wheelchair, and the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) against Yonkers-based AVR Realty and its engineering and architectural firms. The complaint alleges that the design and construction of AVR Realty’s Powell Cove Estates, a 220-unit condominium development in Queens County, New York and Overlook Pointe in Duchess County, New York are not accessible to persons with physical disabilities. The FHJC, who sent undercover testers to both sites, confirmed that the exterior and interior construction and design of the developments did not meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk and Matthew D. Brinckerhoff of ECBA and James E. Bahamonde of the Law Offices of James E. Bahamonde, P.C.

To read the complaint, click here.

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Court Rejects State Secrets in Shubert v. Obama

A federal court in San Francisco has rejected the state secrets privilege in a class action alleging massive surveillance of tens of millions of Americans by the National Security Agency. For seven years, the Department of Justice had attempted to dismiss the case, arguing the court could not even rule on the illegality of the spying program because of state secrets.

Attached is the Decision and the Second Amended Complaint.

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ECBA Reaches Settlement in Housing Discrimination Case

The Fair Housing Justice Center and three African American testers reached a settlement with NASA Real Estate Corporation after suing the company for racial discrimination in its 107-unit apartment building in Sunnyside, Queens. The plaintiffs alleged that a superintendent who worked and lived at the building falsely told African-Americans that there were no vacant units available, even though he showed equally-qualified white testers vacant units available to rent in the building. In addition to monetary damages of $130,000, the settlement provides for a detailed three-year injunction that covers over 20 buildings. The plaintiffs were represented by ECBA attorneys Elizabeth S. Saylor, Diane L. Houk, and Vasudha Talla.

To read more about the settlement, please click  here.

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Judge Awards Attorneys’ Fees in HIV/AIDS Housing Discrimination Case

Federal District Court Judge Samuel Conti granted ECBA’s motion for attorneys’ fees in Short v. Manhattan Apts., et al., on June 10, 2013. The lawsuit, which alleged housing discrimination by Defendants Manhattan Apartments and Abba Realty culminated in a week-long bench trial in October 2012. The Court found that the defendants discriminated against prospective renters living with HIV/AIDS who received a housing subsidy from New York City’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (“HASA”) and awarded damages to the individual plaintiff and the Fair Housing Justice Center (“FHJC”), which conducted corroborative testing. The decision in this case was the first to find discrimination against a HASA client under a 2008 New York City law which prohibits housing discrimination based on lawful source of income.

Judge Conti awarded $507,031.65 in fees and costs to Plaintiffs’ attorneys, noting the significance of the case and the broad injunctive relief awarded. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk, of ECBA, along with co-counsel Armen Merjian and Robert Bacigalupi of Housing Works.

To read the decision, click here.

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The Guardian Discusses Shubert v. Obama

In an article analyzing the U.S. government’s use of the “state secrets privilege” in several lawsuits alleging the government’s secret collection of the communications of millions of its citizens, The Guardian took note of ECBA’s warrantless wiretapping case, filed in 2006. In Shubert v. Obama, ECBA represents four individuals and a putative class of tens of millions of innocent Americans whose communications were unlawfully copied and intercepted by the National Security Agency. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by ECBA’s Ilann M. Maazel and Adam Pulver.

To read the article, click  here.

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ECBA Files Lawsuit Against Five Senior Living Residences Alleging Discrimination

ECBA, on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center (“FHJC”), filed a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against five senior independent living residences. The complaint alleges that the owners of The Esplanade Residences, on Staten Island, in Manhattan, in White Plains, and in Rockland County, discriminate against prospective and current residents based on disability, religion, and race. FHJC sent undercover testers who confirmed the allegedly discriminatory practices and policies, including refusing to rent to wheelchair users, restricting them to certain apartments, restricting the type of wheelchair permitted, and/or segregating residents who use wheelchairs in a separate dining room. One agent for the Manhattan Esplanade told a tester “you have to come in vertical.” The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk of ECBA and Kevin Cremin and Nahid Sorooshyari of MFY Legal Services.

To read the complaint, click here.

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Federal Suit Claims Police Manufacture Misdemeanors

Today, ECBA and The Bronx Defenders filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of five Bronx residents, charging the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) with targeting Black and Latino communities for marijuana arrests and “manufacturing” misdemeanor crimes against residents in order to meet departmental quotas. All five plaintiffs were falsely accused by NYPD officers of possessing marijuana in “public view,” arrested, held in custody, and charged with misdemeanors. In fact, however, each man possessed only a small amount of marijuana for personal use in his pocket — discovered after an illegal stop and search — for which each should have received a simple ticket under New York law. By lying about the facts, and claiming the marijuana was in “public view,” the NYPD officers turned what would have been, for most New Yorkers, a minor incident, into a full-blown ordeal.

The plaintiffs are represented by Katherine Rosenfeld and Sam Shapiro.

To read the complaint, click here. To read the New York Times article about the case, click here.

 

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