Sixteen years after ECBA filed its first class action alleging a pattern and practice of brutality and poor training, discipline, and investigations of corrections officers at Rikers Island, Mayor De Blasio and the City Council have agreed to shut down Rikers Island once and for all. In 2001, ECBA filed the original lawsuit, Ingles v. Toro, with co-counsel Legal Aid Society and Sullivan & Cromwell. The case settled in 2003, but the settlement failed to reduce use of force by corrections officers on Rikers Island. As a result, in 2011, ECBA filed a new class action, Nunez v. City of New York, with co-counsel Legal Aid Society and Ropes & Gray, again alleging a pattern and practice of brutality and cover-ups by corrections officers at Rikers Island. Nunez, and a parallel Department of Justice lawsuit, settled in 2015, resulting in thousands of new cameras, a federal monitor, and other sweeping reforms at Rikers. The case also brought to light the fundamental inhumanity and unfairness of the entire institution.
ECBA lawyers involved in the Rikers cases include Jonathan Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, Katherine Rosenfeld, Debra Greenberger, Zoe Salzman, and Vasudha Talla.
ECBA partner Zoe Salzman moderated a panel hosted by the Center for Labor and Employment Law at NYU School of Law on “Avoiding the Next Harvey Weinstein: Sexual Harassment and Non-Disclosure Agreements.”
As reported in the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, ECBA has settled the case of Eddie Velasquez, a disabled man who died in a New York State group home. Eddie choked to death on a piece of turkey left unsecured and uncut in a kitchen refrigerator. An internal investigation revealed lapses in training and staffing, and a series of failures by New York State employees that led to Eddie’s death. ECBA attorney Ilann Maazel represented the Velasquez family in the case.
ECBA attorney Jessica Clarke was quoted in a BBC article titled: “A woman’s choice – sexual favours or lose her home.” The article details a case that Jessica Clarke worked on while an attorney at the Justice Department, in which women were coerced into sexual encounters with men who were in control of their housing. The case was in Laurinburg, North Carolina and involved two employees of a public housing agency that administered the Section 8 voucher program. The two men threatened to revoke housing vouchers for numerous women unless they acquiesced to their sexual demands. As Jessica describes in the article “[t]he breadth of it was so shocking. . . . When the person who has the keys to your door, who controls where you live is a predator, there’s nothing scarier.”
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