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Settlement Reached in Challenge to Bronx Court Delays

ECBA, The Bronx Defenders, and Morrison & Foerster, LLP announced a settlement of a lawsuit challenging widespread delays in misdemeanor cases in Bronx Criminal Court.

The settlement agreement allows the plaintiffs to monitor the court system for the next four years and to re-open the case if not enough progress is made. It also creates a new mechanism for people charged with misdemeanors to request a speedy trial, at which point the court system will be required to track the progress of their case.

Since the May 2016 filing of the lawsuit, Trowbridge v. DiFiore, the number of misdemeanor cases pending for more than a year in the Bronx dropped from 2,378 to 513.  The number of misdemeanor cases pending for more than two years dropped from 538 to 64.  But more work remains to be done: the proportion of misdemeanor cases that are more than a year old in the Bronx is still twice as high as in any other borough.

“This settlement is only the beginning,” ECBA partner Ilann M. Maazel told the press. “We will be watching the Bronx court system very carefully to make sure that they live up to their promises, achieve parity with the other boroughs, and make speedy trials a reality for everyone in the Bronx.”

Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Ilann M. Maazel, and Doug Lieb represented the plaintiffs.

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ECBA Wins Landmark Ruling in Rape and Gender Motivated Violence Case

ECBA won a landmark ruling allowing a case for rape to proceed under New York City’s Victims of Gender Motivated Violence Protection Act. Justice Robert R. Reed denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, holding that the complaint properly alleged all the elements of the claim.

The New York City Council passed the Act in 2000 to create a private right of action for victims of “gender motivated crimes of violence” like sexual assault and rape to sue their abusers in civil court. The Act also extends the statute of limitations to bring such cases to 7 years. Justice Reed’s ruling gives real meaning to the City’s Act and makes it a powerful and much needed tool for victims of sexual misconduct to seek justice in the courts.

The case is Breest v. Haggis, No. 161137/2017 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.).

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, and Zoe Salzman represent the plaintiff.

Read more about the case herehere, here, and here.

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ECBA Sues City for Retaliating Against Airbnb Host

On July 18, 2018, ECBA filed a federal lawsuit against the City of New York and others on behalf of Stanley “Skip” Karol, a lifelong Brooklyn resident, who uses the Airbnb platform to rent out part of his family home.  The suit alleges that, in violation of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause, the City retaliated against Mr. Karol for his remarks criticizing City officials and policy at a public hearing before the New York City Council on June 26, 2018.  Concerned that the legislation pending before the Council would put him in the same category as operators of illegal hotels, Mr. Karol exercised his First Amendment rights by participating in a public hearing on the bill.  Days later, City enforcement officials appeared at Mr. Karol’s two-family home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and issued him four summonses carrying fines of tens of thousands of dollars.   The complaint alleges that the enforcement effort aimed at Mr. Karol was retaliatory, and the summonses issued to Mr. Karol are baseless.  “People shouldn’t have to worry that when they go home, there’s going to be a knock on the door just because they decided to speak up against the government,” ECBA partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr. told the press.  The case was widely covered and the subject of a New York Post editorial.

Mr. Karol is represented by ECBA attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Debra Greenberger, and Ashok Chandran. A copy of the complaint can be found here, and additional press coverage of the case can be found here, here, and here.

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Richard D. Emery Awarded Membership in The National Trial Lawyers Top 100

The National Trial Lawyers recently announced that ECBA Co-Founder Richard Emery was named to its prestigious Top 100. This invitation-only organization is composed of the premier civil plaintiff and criminal defense trial attorneys across the country. Each member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 is chosen for their demonstration of success, experience, influence and leadership.

You can learn more about the National Trial Lawyers organization here.

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U.S. Supreme Court Repeatedly Cites ECBA Amicus Brief in South Dakota v. Wayfair

ECBA submitted an amicus brief on behalf of a group of law professors and economists to urge the Supreme Court to expand states’ ability to collect sales taxes from online merchants and overrule Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. In overruling Quill the Supreme Court twice cited ECBA’s amicus brief.

Along with Prof. Daniel Hemel of the University of Chicago, ECBA attorney Debbie Greenberger submitted the brief, which is available here.

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MoMA PS1 Refuses to Hire Curator After Learning She Recently Had a Baby

On July 5, 2018, ECBA filed a complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission alleging that MoMA PS1 refused to hire a curator after learning she had recently had a baby. Over a period of several months, Peter Eleey and Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator and Director, respectively, of PS1 recruited Nikki Columbus to join PS1 as associate curator of performance. After several discussions about the job, they officially offered her the position. But when Ms. Columbus mentioned that she had recently had a baby, Eleey immediately demanded to know why she hadn’t said earlier that she was pregnant. Shortly thereafter, PS1 rescinded the job offer. Represented by ECBA attorneys Elizabeth Saylor and Ali Frick, Ms. Columbus filed a complaint claiming that PS1’s conduct amounted to discrimination on the basis of her status as a caregiver, her gender, and her pregnancy. “This is the thing about discrimination,” Ms. Columbus told the New York Times. “And coming into this from a privileged position — you don’t think it’s going to happen to you.”

Read the New York Times’ coverage here. Read the complaint here.

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ECBA and Co-Counsel File Discrimination Lawsuit Against New York City Department of Education and Public Schools Athletic League Calling for Equal Access to School Sports

ECBA filed a class action lawsuit today, representing a student-led organization Integrate NYC and four Black and Latino students denied access to New York City public high school sports, as co-counsel with civil rights advocacy group New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP.

The suit charges that the Department of Education (DOE) and Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) have engaged in racial discrimination by denying Black and Latino students equal opportunity to play high school sports.

On average, Black and Latino students have access to far fewer teams and sports, and the city spends much less per student than for students of other races. Thousands of Black and Latino New York City public high school students attend schools that offer no team sports whatsoever, and Black and Latino students are twice as likely as students of other races to attend schools without sports teams.

The lawsuit, filed pursuant to the New York City Human Rights Law, seeks to level the playing field and create equal access to high school sports for all students, regardless of race.

Read coverage from the New York times here.

Read New York Daily News’ coverage and the NYLPI’s press release for further information. You can also read additional reporting here and here.

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#HimToo: Porter Files Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Upper West Side Building with New York City Commission on Human Rights

ECBA filed a complaint with New York City’s Human Rights Commission on behalf of Hairo Olivares, an Upper West Side porter at 315 Riverside Drive, alleging years of sexual harassment by the building superintendent and manager. The complaint alleges, among other things, that the superintendent grabbed Mr. Olivares’s crotch and buttocks and made him an ongoing target of harassment and humiliation. ECBA’s Ilann M. Maazel and Emma L. Freeman represent Mr. Olivares.

To learn more, read coverage from the NY Daily News here.

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