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Appeals Court Blocks Construction of “Diller Island” Project

The Appellate Division, First Department granted a preliminary injunction today halting construction of the controversial $130 million Pier 55 project on the West Side of Manhattan until it rules on whether the project is lawful. Work crews began pre-construction work on the 2.7-acre landscaped island yesterday and were to begin placing concrete pilings on July 5.

ECBA represents The City Club of New York, Tom Fox, and Robert Buchanan in several actions to challenge the project. Petitioners contend that the project fails to comply with the Hudson River Park Act, and that the environmental review process was inadequate under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.  Richard D. Emery, a partner at ECBA, said: “This project is illegal because the Hudson River Park Trust cut corners, deceived the Legislature, and gave away public parkland to a private entity without the proper checks and balances. Today’s decision confirms that Diller Island would cause irreparable harm to the Hudson River and to the public, and that we are likely to succeed in stopping it for good.”

In issuing the preliminary injunction, the Appellate Division made an initial, and tentative, determination that petitioners are likely to succeed on the merits; that petitioners and the public will likely suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; and that the balance of equities tips in petitioners’ favor.

Petitioners are represented by Richard D. Emery, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and Doug Lieb.

Read coverage of the injunction in The New York Times, Crain’s, the New York Daily News and the Village Voice.

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Ten ECBA Attorneys Named as Super Lawyers; Two Named as Rising Stars

ECBA is proud to announce that partners Richard EmeryAndrew CelliMatthew Brinckerhoff, Jonathan AbadyIlann MaazelEarl WardHal Lieberman, Dan Kornstein, Andrew Wilson, and Elizabeth Saylor were named as Super Lawyers for 2016. Partner Debra Greenberger and associate Hayley Horowitz were named as Rising Stars. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found here.

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Court Approves Settlement in Cooper Union Case

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.

ECBA attorneys Richard D. Emery, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Zoe Salzman represented the Committee to Save Cooper Union.

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ECBA Settles Case Challenging Tuition at The Cooper Union

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.”

Read more about the settlement in coverage by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

The CSCU Petitioners were represented by ECBA attorneys Richard D. Emery, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Zoe Salzman.

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Port Authority Police Union Sues Over Searches of Officers’ Cellphones

ECBA filed suit in federal court on behalf of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Benevolent Association and a former police officer against the Port Authority alleging unconstitutional searches. The suit alleges that the Port Authority unlawfully seized and searched Port Authority police officers’ private cell phones during an investigation into possible criminal conduct. The searches came just months after the Supreme Court ruled in Riley v. California that searches of private cell phones implicate the Fourth Amendment, at least when those searches occur incident to arrest. The plaintiffs are represented by ECBA’s Richard D. Emery, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Ted Oxholm.

To read the New York Times’ coverage of the filing, click here.

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ECBA Represents Durst Family

Douglas Durst and the Durst Organization retained Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady to respond to and protect the family and the Durst Organization from defamation by Andrew Jarecki, producer of the HBO series “The Jinx.” ECBA attorney Richard Emery led the firm’s representation.

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$5 Million Settlement Awarded to Brothers Starved by their Foster Parents

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady settled a $5 million lawsuit against the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”) for neglecting to remove four brothers from the custody of foster parents who had been systematically starving their adopted children. Under the care of the Jackson parents, the oldest brother, age 19, stood at four feet tall and weighed 45 pounds. The three younger brothers, ages 14, 10, and 9, each weighed less than 40 pounds. The DYFS placed the children in the custody of the Jackson family and made numerous visits to the family home. Despite contact with the obviously abused children and warnings from case workers, the DYFS failed to remove the boys from the Jacksons’ custody. The three youngest brothers were represented by ECBA founding partner Richard Emery. To read the New York Times’ coverage of the settlement, click here.

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Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff, Abady, Ward and Maazel Named 2014 “Super Lawyers”

The New York Super Lawyers Magazine has named ECBA’s Richard D. Emery, Andrew G. Celli, Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Jonathan S. Abady, Earl Ward, and Ilann M. Maazel “Super Lawyers,” and Debra L. Greenberger a “Rising Star.” For more information, please access superlawyers.com.

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ECBA files suit against Cooper Union Board to preserve free tuition and increase transparency

Emery Celli announced today it has filed suit against Cooper Union Board to preserve free tuition and increase transparency for historic New York institution on behalf of a group of the school’s faculty, students and alumnae.

To view the petition click here. To read the press release click here.

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Duke University Lacrosse Players Settle with the City of Durham

After being wrongfully accused of rape in 2006, three Duke University lacrosse players have reached a settlement with the City of Durham. Under the agreement, the City agreed to pay $50,000 to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state agency dedicated to investigating and evaluating post-conviction claims of factual innocence. Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady founding partner Richard Emery represents Reade Seligmann, one of the three lacrosse players.

The circumstances surrounding the original criminal case revealed a determined attempt on the part of Durham police officers, prosecutors, and government officials to incriminate the three young men on charges they knew to be fraudulent. As Mr. Emery said, this case is “one of the most vile and abusive acts by government officials . . . and prosecutors in the history of the United States.” Mike Nifong, the District Attorney who was in charge of the original case, has since been disbarred for his actions during the investigation and trial.

To read more about the settlement, click here.

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