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Credit Union Files Emergency Motion to Remove Michael Mulvaney from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

This morning, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed an emergency motion in federal court on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union to remove Michael Mulvaney as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The case challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the CFPB through his White House employee, Mr. Mulvaney.

“We believe strongly that the CFPB must be an independent agency, and the succession process as outlined in the law is the only way to ensure that independence,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union.

“Donald Trump’s takeover of the CFPB is a naked, illegal power grab,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a partner at ECBA, and lead counsel for the Credit Union. “We are asking the court to end the regulatory chaos and end Mr. Mulvaney’s tenure before he destroys the agency completely.”

“Mr. Mulvaney is gutting the CFPB every day he is permitted to remain at its helm. The CFPB must be able to do its job of holding financial institutions accountable, free from political meddling,” said Debra Greenberger, a partner at ECBA, and counsel for the Credit Union.

The Credit Union is a not-for-profit, federally-regulated financial cooperative owned by its approximately 8,500 members and dedicated to providing high-quality financial services and community development investments in low income, immigrant and other underserved communities.

The original federal complaint can be found here.

Read coverage of the motion in the Washington Examiner and The Intercept.

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Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

This afternoon, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union against Donald Trump and Michael Mulvaney. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in which he installed his at-will White House employee, Michael Mulvaney, to be Acting Director of the CFPB. The CFPB protects millions of Americans from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in the financial marketplace. Mr. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke.”

“We support the CFPB as a protector of our low income members’ financial rights, and fear that the appointment of an Acting Director beholden to the White House could result in upheaval and ultimate dissolution of this critical agency,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union. “Having experienced the devastation that the 2008 mortgage crisis wreaked on our low income members, we need the CFPB to protect communities targeted by financial predators.”

“This is a naked, illegal power grab by Donald Trump to destroy an agency that helps and protects millions of ordinary Americans,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a partner at ECBA, and lead counsel for the Credit Union. “The law requires Leandra English to be CFPB’s Acting Director.”

“President Trump’s attempt to install a White House official as the acting head of what is supposed to be an independent agency is deeply disturbing and should concern everyone,” said Debra Greenberger, a partner at ECBA, and counsel for the Credit Union.

The Credit Union is a not-for-profit, federally-regulated financial cooperative owned by its approximately 8,500 members and dedicated to providing high-quality financial services and community development investments in low income, immigrant and other underserved communities.

Read coverage of the lawsuit in Reuters, the New York Post, and The Villager.

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Everytown for Gun Safety Helps Beat Back Attack on Gun Control in New York State

In an important victory for gun control, ECBA client Everytown for Gun Safety helped beat back an attack on New York State’s ban on stun guns and other electronic weapons. The decision denying the preliminary injunction motion is here. Everytown for Gun Safety filed an amicus brief in support of New York State, and is represented by Gupta Wessler and ECBA lawyer Ilann M. Maazel.

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Rachel Maddow Interviews Professor Sarah Chayes About Donald Trump’s Violations of the Emoluments Clause

On October 18, 2017, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington presented oral argument in their landmark Emoluments Clause lawsuit against Donald Trump before Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York.  Sarah P. Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on whose behalf ECBA filed an amicus curiae brief in support of CREW, was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on October 20, 2017.  The interview featured Chayes’s analysis of the case and of oral argument and excerpts from ECBA’s brief.  CREW’s Second Amended Complaint is available here.  Chayes’s amicus brief is available here.  Chayes’s interview with Maddow is available here.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Slate, among other outlets, covered the recent argument.

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Ten ECBA Attorneys Named as Super Lawyers; One Named as Rising Star

ECBA is proud to announce that partners Richard Emery, Andrew Celli, Matthew Brinckerhoff, Jonathan Abady, Ilann Maazel, Earl Ward, Hal Lieberman, Dan Kornstein, Andrew Wilson, and Elizabeth Saylor were named as Super Lawyers for 2017. Associate Alanna Kaufman was named as a Rising Star. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found here.

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Jewish Woman Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Lucille Roberts

School teacher Yosefa Wood-Isenberg (formerly Yosefa Jalal) has settled her discrimination lawsuit against the health club chain, Lucille Roberts, in Manhattan federal court. Lucille Roberts employees had targeted, harassed, screamed at, and banned Ms. Wood-Isenberg, all because she wore a modest, fitted, knee-length skirt.

The settlement reinstates Ms. Wood-Isenberg’s membership in the gym, permits her to wear a fitted skirt at the gym, and formalizes a new policy permitting gymgoers to wear fitted skirts for religious reasons. The settlement also includes a confidential monetary payment.

“I am so thankful that I and other Jewish women can work out in a facility without compromising our religious beliefs,” said Ms. Wood-Isenberg. “This is a joyous win for women who dress modestly. I thank G-d, our legal team, and all who supported us along the way.”

“This is an important victory for religious freedom,” said Ilann M. Maazel, counsel for Ms. Wood-Isenberg.  “Observant Jewish women should be able to work out at a gym like anyone else, and now, at Lucille Roberts they can. We applaud Lucille Roberts for doing the right thing.”

“Whether you wear a long skirt, a hijab, or a t-shirt promoting atheism, places of public accommodation are for you. We encourage others to join Lucille Roberts in embracing this core American principle.” said Doug Lieb, another lawyer for Ms. Wood-Isenberg.

Read the settlement and the federal complaint. Read coverage of the settlement in the New York Post,  New York Daily News, Courthouse News Service, and Connecticut Jewish Ledger.

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ECBA Represents Amica Curiae Professor Sarah Chayes In Landmark Emoluments Clause Suit Against Donald Trump

On January 23, 2017, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a landmark federal lawsuit in New York against Donald Trump, prompted by his violations of the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution.  On August 11, 2017, ECBA filed an amicus curiae brief in support of CREW on behalf of Sarah P. Chayes, an internationally-recognized expert in corruption and kleptocratic regimes and a Senior Fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Chayes argues that Trump’s business interests promote corruption, undermine U.S. foreign policy, and threaten American democracy.  CREW’s Second Amended Complaint is available here.  Chayes’s amicus brief is available here.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Slate, among other outlets, have covered the lawsuit.

ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel and Emma Freeman represent Sarah Chayes.

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ECBA Reaches Over $12 Million Settlement on Behalf of Family of Children Killed in Fire

The City of Stamford and two of its employees, Ernest Orgera and Robert DeMarco, have agreed to pay $6.65 million to settle wrongful death claims by the Estates of Lily Badger, Sarah Badger, and Grace Badger. The settlement includes a $250,000 annuity to the Stamford Chapter of the Girl Scouts of America to fund scholarships for young girls. Previous settlements with other defendants in the case totaled over $6 million, for a total settlement of over $12.7 million.

The case arose from a tragic house fire in Stamford, Connecticut on Christmas Day, 2011. Lily, 9, and Sarah and Grace, each 7, all died in the fire, as did their grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson. The settlement marks the end of more than five years of investigation and litigation. Matthew Badger, the girls’ father and the original administrator of their estates, brought the case in June 2012.

ECBA attorneys Richard D. Emery, Ilann M. Maazel, Sam Shapiro, Jessica Clarke, Vasudha Talla, and Jennifer Keighley represented the Badger estates at various stages of the litigation.

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Federal Court Rejects Motion to Dismiss the “Bronx Zoo” Group Home Lawsuit

On July 5, 2017 federal judge Paul A. Engelmayer denied motions brought by several New York State employees to dismiss a lawsuit filed by ECBA on behalf of family members of three developmentally disabled adults alleging rampant abuse and neglect at a State-run group home in the Bronx. In an opinion noting that the facts in the complaint were enough to “shock the conscience,” Judge Engelmayer upheld claims under city, state, and federal law, seeking both monetary damages and an injunction to protect residents’ civil rights. The decision finds that the lawsuit adequately alleged that state-employed facility staff “cruelly abused persons with disabilities for no valid reason, but instead out of malice, spire, impatience, or sport,” concluding that such “physical abuse of helpless persons cannot be said to serve a legitimate governmental interest in a civilized society.” The opinion also finds the allegations sufficient to claim that supervisors and administrators within New York State’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities were reckless in failing to stop the abuse, referring to an OPWDD Regional Director as “taking woefully insufficient action” and responding “minimally if at all” to abuse and neglect reports.

ECBA’s Ilann Maazel and David Lebowitz represent the plaintiffs. To read the opinion, click here. To read past coverage of this case, click here.

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