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.
Andrew Wilson moderated a Roundtable entitled “Civil Rights Litigation: Navigating Successful Pro Bono Partnerships,” on June 7, 2016. The panel explored the opportunities, challenges, and best practices for effective partnerships on pro bono litigation, particularly in the civil rights arena. The discussion was presented by the American Bar Association’s Civil Rights Litigation Committee and the panelists included: Maia Goodell, Supervising Attorney, MFY Legal Services, Inc., Edward A. Hailes, Jr., General Counsel/Managing Director at Advancement Project, Harlene Katzman, Pro Bono Coordinator at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and Jennifer L. Kroman, Director of Pro Bono Practice, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
A recording of the panel may be found at the American Bar Association’s website, in early July.
A lawsuit filed by ECBA against the German American Settlement League (“GASL”) alleging racial discrimination settled this month for $175,000 and broad injunctive relief. The complaint alleged that GASL, a membership-based nonprofit, had excluded non-whites from purchasing homes in its Long Island community since the late 1930s. GASL has agreed to remove its racially restrictive membership rules and to permit advertising, open houses, and other forms of public marketing of homes for sale. Among other things, GASL Board members have agreed to attend fair housing training and to permit Long Island Housing Services to monitor its applications and organizational records for several years.
Justice Nancy Bannon of the New York Supreme Court approved the settlement in ECBA’s case challenging the decision to charge tuition at The Cooper Union. ECBA represents the Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), a group of alumni, faculty, and students which filed suit in May 2014, arguing that charging tuition violated the trust established by Peter Cooper and seeking to reinstitute free tuition. After the CSCU filed suit, the New York Attorney General launched an investigation into the mismanagement of the school finances. The settlement, which includes CSCU, the Attorney General, and the school, requires the college to commit to exploring the return to free tuition; establish a free education committee on the board of trustees; increase student, alumni, and faculty representation on the board; establish the Associates of Cooper Union; and accept the oversight of an independent financial monitor.
In approving the settlement agreement, Justice Bannon wrote that the plan agreed upon “will most effectively accomplish the general purposes of Peter Cooper’s trust in the context of the present financial position of The Cooper Union.” ECBA lead attorney Richard D. Emery said: “We are extremely optimistic that within a matter of years, the vision of Peter Cooper can be once again in place.”
Read coverage of the settlement approval in The New York Times here.
Andrew Wilson published an article concerning the Supreme Court’s forthcoming consideration of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin with the American Bar Association’s civil rights section. The article provides context for the Supreme Court’s next decision to address affirmative action in college admissions. To read the full article, click here.
Emery Celli has filed a federal lawsuit that challenges the racially discriminatory housing policies of the German-American Settlement League (“GASL”). The GASL owns Siegfried Park in Yaphank, Long Island, where, in the late 1930s, German Americans traveled to rally together in support of Nazism. Since its incorporation in 1937, the GASL has excluded non-whites from its membership, recreational programs, and summer homes in favor of new residents with German ancestry. As stated in its Constitution, one of the purposes of the GASL is to “introduce, cultivate, and propagate in every direction true Germanic culture and to cultivate the German language, customs and ideals.” The GASL requires its members “primarily” to be “of German extraction.” New members must be sponsored by a current member and accepted by a majority vote of the Board and membership. GASL membership may be extended under limited circumstances to “other national elements” only if they are sponsored by current members. The lawsuit challenges these restrictions and seeks, among other things, to amend the by GASL bylaws to allow for equal access to housing.
A case brought by ECBA against the Board of Trustees of The Cooper Union, disputing the decision to charge tuition for the first time in the school’s history, has settled. ECBA represents the Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), a coalition of current and prospective students, alumni, and faculty. CSCU filed suit in May 2014, arguing that charging tuition violated the trust established by Peter Cooper and seeking to reinstitute free tuition, to provide a full accounting and to implement greater oversight. As a result of the CSCU lawsuit, the Attorney General of the State of New York launched a confidential investigation into The Cooper Union, which culminated in the settlement announced today.
The settlement agreements, which will be filed today with the Court and which the Court is expected to approve at a hearing on September 14, include a consent decree signed by the CSCU, the Attorney General, and The Cooper Union, as well as a cy pres petition by the Attorney General. The agreements impose an independent financial monitor; establish a Board committee made up of alumni, students, and faculty that is dedicated to developing a plan for the return to free tuition; require the school’s leadership to make a good faith effort to return to free; and expand the presence of alumni, students, and faculty on the Board of Trustees.
ECBA lead attorney Richard D. Emery explained: “A tragic chapter in this great school’s history has ended. For the past several years, a lack of fiscal restraint, conflicts of interest and a failure of educational vision banished Peter Cooper and his spirit from the school he founded. Cooper built a completely free, merit-based learning institution that encouraged free thinking and produced some of our nation’s greatest minds in the arts and sciences. These recent years abandoned those values in favor of financial manipulation and debt. Because of the litigation settled today, Peter Cooper is back. Justice for Peter Cooper and all those who benefited from his great experiment is now a promise that must be kept.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
As reported in the New York Timesand elsewhere, ECBA, along with co-counsel Michael Meth and Public Justice, has settled the Pine Bush anti-Semitic bullying case. The comprehensive settlement requires significant reform to policies, training, curriculum, discipline, and tracking of anti-Semitic incidents, all under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Education and the federal court. The five Jewish children were represented by Ilann M. Maazel, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Zoe Salzman.