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 Shortly thereafter, PS1 rescinded the job offer.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.
Judge Analisa Torres of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that a New York cosmetic surgeon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York City Human Rights Law when he refused to treat patients living with HIV. Emery Celli and the HIV Law Project represent Mark Milano, a man living with HIV who was summarily turned away by Dr. Emanuel Asare after Asare said he had a policy against performing surgery on people living with HIV. The District Court granted summary judgment to Mr. Milano and the United States government, which also sued the physician, ruling that Asare’s blanket policy violated the law.
“Even after having lived with HIV for 30 years, the statement from Dr. Asare that it was his policy to never perform any procedures on people with HIV was like a punch in the gut,” Mr. Milano said. “It left me on the verge of tears. I had never experienced such blatant HIV discrimination in my life. Since then, I have heard similar stories from friends about other cosmetic surgeons. No one should have to go through this. People with HIV have as much right to cosmetic surgery as anybody else.”
Mr. Milano was represented by Matthew Brinckerhoff and Ali Frick. Speaking to the Associated Press, Ms. Frick praised the court for “elevat[ing] science and facts over fear and prejudice.” Read the AP’s story here; the New York Law Journal also covered the decision. Judge Torres’ opinion is available here.
New York City will pay $2.5 million to ECBA client Joel Fowler, who was wrongly convicted of a 2007 Brooklyn murder. Prosecutors under the watch of late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson concluded in 2015 that Mr. Fowler had nothing to do with the murder. The New York Daily News covered the settlement here. This settlement is the latest of the many wrongful conviction cases that Emery Celli has settled.
ECBA attorneys Earl Ward and Ali Frick represented Mr. Fowler, along with the Law Offices of Joel B. Rudin.
The State of New York has paid $3 million to the family of a developmentally disabled boy who was repeatedly sexually assaulted and abused by an employee at the State-run group home near Utica where he lived. The abuse took place over multiple years, and was discovered after photos and videos the abuser, Steven DeProspero, had made of the assaults were found on his computer. DeProspero is currently incarcerated under both state and federal convictions for crimes related to the abuse.
In the first ever legal effort to challenge election results in multiple jurisdictions for a Presidential contest in the United States, ECBA is representing Jill Stein and her campaign in election integrity efforts and attempts to obtain recounts in three states: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Stein filed petitions for recount in Michigan and Wisconsin, and mobilized voters to seek recounts in Pennsylvania. ECBA has litigated various state and federal actions to pursue those recount requests. The most recent information and filings concerning the rapidly-changing developments in the three states are available here for Pennsylvania, here for Michigan, and here for Wisconsin.
The City of New York has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle an excessive force lawsuit brought by ECBA and the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project for the assault and beating of Michael Cruz. In June 2014, multiple officers beat Mr. Cruz so badly that they broke his rib, which eventually pierced his spleen and led to massive internal bleeding. The assault and resulting injuries were life-threatening. Mr. Cruz, who was only 20 years old at the time, was forced to undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen.
On June 13, 2016, Judge Ostrager of the New York Supreme Court ruled that interior designer Inson Wood and his company were liable for the destruction of three marble sculptures made by famed sculptor Edwina Sandys. Ms. Sandys loaned the sculptures to Mr. Wood for display and sale at the Waterfall Mansion, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Months later, her sculptures were returned to her shattered into pieces. After Mr. Wood refused to reimburse her for the broken sculptures, Ms. Sandys sued him and others on claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence, among other charges. A trial on the other issues and other parties will be held in September.
A federal court has approved a $1.3 million settlement relating to the design and construction of two housing developments in Queens and Dutchess Counties, New York. The plaintiffs, a disabled woman who purchased a ground floor unit at the Queens site and the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), alleged that the developers, architects, and site engineers failed to design and build the developments in compliance with the Fair Housing Act, rendering them inaccessible to residents and guests with physical disabilities.
Defendants will pay $900,000 for damages, attorneys’ fees, and retrofits to the individual plaintiff’s unit, driveway, and sidewalks. Defendants will also retrofit ground floor units and certain common areas at the Dutchess County project at their expense and have future residential sites reviewed for compliance. In addition, the settlement provides $400,000 for the FHJC to use to provide financial assistance to income eligible homeowners and renters with physical disabilities seeking to make accessibility modifications to their existing housing, including unit owners at the Queens development.
Plaintiffs were represented by ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and Ali Frick, and by James E. Bahamonde of the Law Offices of James E. Bahamonde, P.C.
Today, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady and the Brennan Center for Justice, on behalf of several former and current State legislators and other plaintiffs, filed suit against the New York State Board of Elections to close the State’s infamous “LLC Loophole.” Since the Loophole was created by the BOE in 1996, contributors donating through LLCs have circumvented contribution limits and disclosure requirements that the Legislature created to protect the integrity of New York’s democratic process — and injected millions of secret dollars into state elections. In April the Brennan Center and Emery Celli asked the BOE to close the Loophole, but the board, in a 2-2 vote, refused to rescind its earlier decision and thereby defeated this attempt at reform. This lawsuit presents a promising opportunity to close the Loophole once and for all. ECBA attorneys Andrew G. Celli Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Ali Frick represent the bipartisan group of plaintiffs.
Together with the Legal Aid Society, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Michael Cruz, who was beaten by correction officers at Rikers Island so brutally that he suffered massive internal bleeding and was required to undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen. Cruz, who was only 20 years old at the time, was assaulted by multiple correction officers after asking for a mental health evaluation prior to being sent into solitary confinement. Apparently annoyed by his request, multiple officers–with the tacit approval of a captain–repeatedly kicked and punched Mr. Cruz, leaving him with a fractured rib. After weeks of complaints about his pain, Mr. Cruz was finally taken to the hospital, where his massive internal bleeding was discovered. Hospital staff informed him that if he had been left in his cell untreated much longer, Mr. Cruz could have died.
Mr. Cruz is represented by ECBA attorneys Jonathan Abady, Samuel Shapiro, and Ali Frick, and by the Legal Aid Society. Read the New York Post’s coverage here. To read the full complaint, click here.