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ECBA Leads Historic Recount Litigation on Behalf of Jill Stein in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania

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.

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Matt D. Brinckerhoff, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Ilann Maazel, Elizabeth Saylor, Debra L. Greenberger, Ali Frick, David Lebowitz, Hayley HorowitzDoug Lieb, Alanna Small, and Jessica Clark are the lawyers litigating these efforts.

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Families Request Bronx DA Criminal Investigation in “Bronx Zoo” Disability Abuse Case

Three families have formally requested that Darcel Clark, the District Attorney for Bronx County, open a formal criminal investigation into the abuse of disabled residents at Union Avenue IRA, a group home run by New York State.

The State has not revealed how many of these alleged abusers still work for the State or with the disabled.

Last week, the families filed a civil rights lawsuit in Manhattan federal court.  According to New York State’s own Justice Center, staff gave disabled residents black eyes, punched them, pulled their hair, spit on them, shoved and punched them, kicked them, smashed their heads into walls, denied them food, and botched their medical care.

A copy of the demand for a criminal investigation to the District Attorney is here.

 

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ECBA Files Federal Lawsuit Alleging Shocking Abuse in Bronx Group Home

This morning, three families filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court alleging severe and pervasive abuse of disabled residents in a New York State group home called the Union Avenue IRA.  According to New York State’s own Justice Center, staff gave disabled residents black eyes, punched them, pulled their hair, spit on them, shoved and punched them, kicked them, smashed their heads into walls, denied them food, and botched their medical care.  The lawsuit also alleges that high-level State officials knew about the alleged abuse, but did nothing to stop it for months.

Staff refer to the group home as the “Bronx Zoo.”  It is not known how many of these New York State employees still work for the State or with the disabled.

“It’s revolting, appalling, inhuman,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady.  “This case represents a complete breakdown in hiring, training, investigation, discipline, and oversight.  We call on Governor Cuomo and the Bronx District Attorney to get justice for these families, and to make sure no disabled person is abused in a New York State group home ever again.”

“Even by the standards of New York’s notorious system of care for disabled people, this case stands out as one of the most repugnant,” said David Lebowitz, another attorney for the residents’ families.  “This is not a case of one or two bad apples, but an entrenched culture of cruelty tolerated by supervisors and State officials who turned their backs on vulnerable people in their care.”

Follow updates on the case here.

 

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ECBA Obtains Over $30 Million for Three Wrongfully Convicted Men in Infamous “Bronx Six” Case

New York City and State have agreed to pay $23.78 million to Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 18 years for two 1995 murders in which neither man had any involvement. Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez will each receive $8 million from New York City, in addition to $3.89 million previously paid by New York State, for a total of $11.89 million each in settlements.

Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez were jointly indicted with five other individuals for the 1995 murders of a livery taxi driver and a FedEx employee, despite the absence of any physical evidence connecting them to the crimes. A 2012 investigation by federal authorities revealed that the taxi driver’s murder had actually been committed by two gang members whose names came up repeatedly during the NYPD’s 1995 investigation but who were never pursued as suspects. The revelation that the two gang members had previously confessed to committing the taxi driver murder—without any involvement by any of the six people convicted—led to the recantation of a central witness in the FedEx case, who claimed that her trial testimony had been coerced and manufactured by NYPD detectives. After using this new information to help free Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez from prison in 2013, ECBA attorneys Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and David A. Lebowitz represented the men in civil litigation against the City and State along with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC.

ECBA and Romano & Kuan previously obtained $6.7 million in settlements from the City and State on behalf of the estate of Israel Vasquez, one of the other individuals wrongly accused of the same two 1995 murders, who spent over 12 years in prison before his conviction was overturned due to the insufficiency of the evidence against him. The team has thus recovered over $30 million for these three families in connection with this tragic case. The New York Times and the New York Daily News, among other publications, covered the settlements.

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ECBA Settles Metropolitan Museum of Art Case

A settlement has been reached in a 2013 case brought by ECBA against the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The case, Saska et al v. Metropolitan Museum of Art, challenged the Museum’s practice of charging admission fees to visitors and failing to disclose the Museum’s “pay what you wish” policy. The class action suit alleged that the Museum’s signage and online advertising mislead visitors into paying the full advertised “price” for admission to the Museum, when, in fact, the Museum’s policy is to allow visitors to pay as much or as little as they wish.

Under the settlement, which is subject to court approval, the Museum will revise its signage and online advertising to prominently describe the admission fees as “SUGGESTED” and to include the legend: “THE AMOUNT YOU PAY IS UP TO YOU.” In addition, the Museum will require third-party sellers of admission tickets to disclose the Museum’s “pay what you wish” policy, and it will direct cashiers and other Museum employees interacting with the public to explain the “pay what you wish” policy to visitors to avoid any confusion. ECBA’s Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, David Lebowitz, and Ted Oxholm handled the case. The lawsuit and the settlement received extensive press coverage.

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ECBA Wins Summary Judgment in Breach of Contract Suit

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.

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$6.6 Million Class Action Settlement on Behalf of Medical Residents

On behalf of hundreds of former medical residents who trained in The New York and Presbyterian Hospital’s Weill Cornell Campus Residency Program between January 1, 1995 and June 30, 2001, ECBA obtained preliminary approval of a $6.632 million settlement. Former medical residents had commenced an action in the SDNY claiming that the hospital acted against their interest when it agreed with the IRS not to seek refunds of Federal Insurance Contribution Act (“FICA”) taxes paid by or on behalf of itself and medical residents in the NYP/Weill Cornell Residency Program and failed to disclose the agreement.  Two related lawsuits were filed as class actions by different sets of plaintiffs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, and both were consolidated. If you are a member of the class, please provide your current address, phone  number, and the years you were a resident to the administrator by calling 877-804-9743 or emailing info@nyficasettlement.com.  More information will soon be available at www.nyficasettlement.com.

To view the Settlement Notice and Declaration of Previous Refund, click here.
To view the Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release, click here.
To view the Order Granting Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement, Conditionally, Certifying Rule 23 Settlement Class, Appointing Class Class Counsel, and Approving Proposed Notice Procedures, click here.

To read Law360’s coverage, click here.

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Misclassified Workers Settle Class Action Lawsuit Recovering $540,000

In Juan Almendras, et al v. Atelier Meriguet-Carrere, et al, Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady LLP, together with The Legal Aid Society’s Employment Law Unit, represent former and current painters of the high end residential decorating and painting companies, Atelier Premiere, Inc. and Atelier Mériguet-Carrère.

On February 4, 2015, the Honorable Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York granted class certification and final approval of a collective/class action settlement which resolved the painters’ claims that the companies misclassified them as independent contractors and failed to pay overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”), illegally deducted from their pay money for general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance in violation of the NYLL, and failed to provide annual wage statements and correct paystubs as required by the NYLL. A payment of close to $400,000 will be divided among the class, which consists of more than 80 workers, most of whom are South American men who primarily speak Spanish and Portuguese. The remaining money will go to attorneys’ fees and service awards.

Staffing in this case from Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady included Partner Elizabeth Saylor and Associate David Lebowitz. Staffing from The Legal Aid Society included Staff Attorneys Amy Hong and Hollis Pfitsch and Supervising Attorney Karen Cacace.

To read the complaint click here. To read the settlement click here.

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New York City and State Agree to pay $6.7 million in settlements for Wrongful Conviction Cases

The City and State have agreed to pay $6.7 million to the widow of Israel Vasquez, who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for more than 12 years for a 1995 homicide. Mr. Vasquez was jointly indicted with five others for two separate homicides, that of a taxi driver and a Federal Express employee. ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, David Lebowitz and Orion Danjuma, together with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC represent Mr. Vasquez’s widow. ECBA, along with Julia Kuan, also represent Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, two of the five other wrongfully convicted individuals who spent 18 years in prison for two murders they did not commit. Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez’s cases are still pending. To read the New York Times coverage, click here.

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ECBA files a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Great Neck Plaza and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA)

ECBA filed a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the predominantly white Village of Great Neck Plaza and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA). The suit alleges that the Village zoning code discriminates against African Americans by imposing eligibility criteria for affordable housing that gives a preference to local residents. The complaint also alleges that the code excludes certain applicants for affordable housing based on age and disability. Finally, the complaint alleges that the NCIDA provided financial assistance for affordable housing in the Village subject to the zoning code’s discriminatory requirements and preferences. The two non-profit plaintiffs, Long Island Housing Services and Fair Housing Justice Center, are represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk and David A. Lebowitz.

To read the complaint, click here.

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