Public Justice has announced that the attorneys for Sykes v. Mel S. Harris & Associates, LLC are finalists for the organization’s 2017 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. ECBA co-counseled with MFY Legal Services and the New Economy Project to bring a federal class action challenging a fraudulent debt collection scheme.
Under the settlement negotiated by the legal team after six years of hard-fought litigation, the defendants paid nearly $60 million to class members. They also agreed to exit the debt collection business and to extinguish all outstanding consumer debt that was part of the scheme, which had a total face value of over $1 billion. In a cutting edge component of the settlement, the defendants also agreed to cooperate with a supplementary state court proceeding to vacate the default judgments en masse and, as a result, nearly 200,000 fraudulently-obtained default judgments have been vacated. More on the case and the settlement is available here.
On March 1, 2017, the United States filed a housing discrimination suit on behalf of several ECBA clients against Bedford Development LLC, Carnegie Construction Corp., Jobco Inc., Robert Pascucci, and Warshauer Mellusi Warshauer Architects, P.C. The complaint alleges that these defendants failed to design and construct Sutton Manor condominium in Mount Kisco, New York, in a manner accessible to persons with disabilities. ECBA represents several disabled residents who purchased units at Sutton Manor based on the false promise of an accessible home to live in post-retirement. This suit originates from complaints ECBA filed on behalf of these residents with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They are represented by Diane L. Houk and Jessica Clarke of ECBA.
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 $6 million to Derrick Deacon, a man who spent over twenty years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Deacon was initially convicted in 1989 as the result of egregious misconduct by law enforcement and prosecutors. After new evidence came to light showing that Mr. Deacon was not the perpetrator, he was granted a retrial and acquitted in minutes. This suit, filed after his acquittal, challenged the official misconduct used to initially convict Mr. Deacon. The New York Daily News covered the settlement here.
On September 22, 2016, ECBA, along with Ressler and Tesh PLLC, filed a federal lawsuit in Long Island on behalf of a young, special needs child who was improperly placed by the agency SCO Family of Services in the home of an abusive pedophile—Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu. This child, who is originally from Washington State, was transferred through SCO Family of Services nearly 3,000 miles away to Mugaburu in Long Island. Once there, he suffered a fate similar to the many vulnerable boys forced to live with this madman. He was physically and mentally abused, subjected to long periods of starvation, and sexually assaulted. As alleged in the lawsuit, SCO Family of Services ignored repeated complaints about Mugaburu, including those from J.A. himself, warnings from Suffolk County’s foster agency, and numerous red flags about Mugaburu and his home.
ECBA is excited to announce that Jessica Clarke has joined the firm as an Associate. Prior to joining the firm, Jessica worked for five years as a Trial Attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in the Housing & Civil Enforcement Section. Before joining the Department of Justice, she clerked for the Hon. Solomon Oliver, Jr. of the Northern District of Ohio. She also worked as a summer associate with Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, LLP and served as a judicial extern for the Hon. James L. Graham of the Southern District of Ohio.
While at the U.S. Department of Justice, Jessica successfully tried United States v. Town of Colorado City, a first-of-its-kind housing discrimination and police misconduct case. Read about the favorable jury verdict here. To read an in-depth profile of the case in Rolling Stone, click here.
On July 18, 2012, ECBA filed a lawsuit in federal court against Eihab Human Services, Inc., alleging serious neglect and mistreatment of B.W., a young autistic man who was in the facility’s care. Over the course of his stay with Eihab, B.W. was taken to the hospital on six separate occasions. One of those occasions occurred following an incident in which B.W. nearly choked to death on a corncob, the result of grossly inadequate supervision and staff training. In the wake of the choking incident, the complaint alleges, the facility and its employees continued to mistreat B.W. and ignored his medical needs. Within three months, he became severely malnourished, his weight dropping to a mere 56 pounds. In addition to Eihab’s neglect, the lawsuit also alleges that B.W. was frequently left unattended in soiled clothing and suffered numerous unexplained bruises and cuts. B.W. is represented by ECBA’s Ilann M. Maazel, Elizabeth Saylor, and Jessica Clarke.