On November 16, 2016, ECBA submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf the Asian Americans Advancing Jusice ǀ AAJC and other civil rights and advocacy groups in Lee v. Tam, a first-amendment and trademark case pending before the Supreme Court.
Tam, the Respondent, is the leader of a band called, “The Slants”—a racially derisive term referring to Asian Americans. Tam has stated that his use of “The Slants” is an effort to reclaim that term. Nevertheless, his trademark application for the name was rejected under a section of the trademark law that prohibits registration of derogatory marks. The Supreme Court will consider whether that section is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
Though not submitted in support of either the Respondent or the Petitioner, the amicus curiae brief represents the interests of a coalition of groups whose constituents are harmed by the dissemination of racial slurs. The brief sheds light on the complicated nature of the inquiry before the Court, the free speech interests on both sides, and the power and difficulties of reclamation efforts. ECBA attorneys Daniel Kornstein and Alanna Small worked on the brief. You can read the brief here.
On July 20, 2016, Daniel Kornstein penned an insightful examination of the 2016 presidential campaign in the New York Law Journal. In his thought-provoking analysis, Kornstein ponders the corrosive influence of political defamation and negative campaigning on American democracy, and discusses whether or not the law should play a role in curtailing the threat posed by candidates’ dishonest and inflammatory comments.
ECBA is proud to announce that Daniel Kornstein has been invited to join the Board of Editors of the New York State Bar Association Journal. The NYSBA Journal features articles relating to the practice of law in New York and is published nine times a year.
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.
In a widely watched case, a Manhattan judge ruled on April 1, 2016 that former partners cannot be held personally liable for the remainder of the office lease of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, which had filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The landlord had sued hundreds of former partners of the law firm and its Dewey Ballantine predecessors to hold them individually liable for rent until the office lease expired in 2020 — up to $220 million. The court granted motions to dismiss the lawsuit based on the language of the lease and the criteria for personal liability of partners in a limited partnership. The decision is important for the lease obligations of law firm partners.
ECBA partner Dan Kornstein successfully represented 44 former Dewey Ballantine partners in the case.
ECBA lawyers Hal Lieberman and Dan Kornstein published an essay in the March 8, 2016 issue of the New York Law Journal entitled “Jewish Claims Conference’s Duty to Victims of Nazis.” Read the article here.
ECBA lawyers Dan Kornstein and David Lebowitz recently won summary judgment for $195,000 plus interest for ECBA’s client Schlesinger & Company, LLC as plaintiff in a suit against WWP Office, LLC. The case, in Supreme Court, New York County, was for breach of a commercial real estate brokerage agreement by which our client was to receive additional commissions if the tenant exercised options to renew its lease. Defendant, which was not the original party to the brokerage agreement, argued it had not assumed the obligations to pay the commission. We submitted proof it had. The parties made cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Cynthia Kern granted our motion in full.
On February 17, 2016, ECBA partner Dan Kornstein delivered a talk on Shakespeare at a program at the New York City Bar on “Litigation and Literature in the New York Courts: Shaw, Shakespeare & Sherlock” presented by the Historical Society of the New York Courts. The focus of Dan’s talk was Shakespeare Workshop v. Robert Moses, 8 A.D. 2d 343, 187 N.Y.S.2d 683 (1st Dep’t 1959), in which the Appellate Division unanimously reversed a lower court ruling that had dismissed an Article 78 proceeding by Joseph Papp to review NYC Parks Commissioner Moses’s refusal to permit free performances of Shakespeare in Central Park.
ECBA won an important victory on January 27, 2016 in a partnership dispute that is pending in New York Supreme Court, NWM Capital v. Mark Scharfman, et al. ECBA represents the defendants in the case, the general partners in four real estate partnerships and the managing agent of apartment buildings in Washington Heights, among others. Plaintiff is a limited partner in the partnerships. The Court granted ECBA’s clients’ motion for summary judgment on the most significant claims in the complaint, finding that there was “no basis for these claims.” The Court also denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The value of the dismissed claims, according to plaintiff, was tens of millions of dollars. ECBA attorneys Dan Kornstein and Sam Shapiro represent the defendants.