Article

Famed Sculptor Wins Summary Judgment Against Designer Who Destroyed Artwork

On June 13, 2016, Judge Ostrager of the New York Supreme Court ruled that interior designer Inson Wood and his company were liable for the destruction of three marble sculptures made by famed sculptor Edwina Sandys. Ms. Sandys loaned the sculptures to Mr. Wood for display and sale at the Waterfall Mansion, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Months later, her sculptures were returned to her shattered into pieces. After Mr. Wood refused to reimburse her for the broken sculptures, Ms. Sandys sued him and others on claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence, among other charges. A trial on the other issues and other parties will be held in September.

Ms. Sandys is represented by ECBA attorneys Dan Kornstein and Ali Frick.

Article

Andrew Wilson Moderates ABA Roundtable on Public/Private Litigation

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.

Article

Judge Approves $60 Million Settlement in Debt Collection Suit

A federal court approved the settlement on behalf of  New Yorkers who alleged fraudulent debt collection practices.  The $60 million settlement in the case, captioned Sykes v. Mel S. Harris and Associates LLC, No. 09 Civ. 8486 (S.D.N.Y), is  the largest ever of its kind.  The settlement should also lead to the unprecedented vacating of approximately 195,000 court judgments and result in the forgiveness of over $1 billion in alleged debt. Plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleged that that Defendants used fraudulent practices to file debt collection lawsuits, obtain default judgments, and then collect on those judgments.

Judge Denny Chin found that the settlement is a “remarkable resolution” to “hard fought litigation” that will bring “extraordinarily meaningful benefits to tens of thousands of individuals.”  He concludes that the settlement will have an “immediate and enormously positive impact on the lives of many.”

The class is represented by ECBA attorneys, Matthew Brinckerhoff, Debbie GreenbergerElizabeth Saylor, and Jonathan Abady,  along with co-counsel MFY Legal Services and the New Economy Project.   Read more about the settlement in coverage by the New York Times, the Nation, the NY Law Journal, the NY Post, the Democrat & Chronicle, the Daily News and NY 1.

Article

Groundbreaking Court Delay Case in the Press

On May 10, 2016, along with the Bronx Defenders and Morrison & Foerster LLP, ECBA filed a federal class action to end the massive delays in misdemeanor cases in the Bronx Criminal Court. The groundbreaking suit alleges that the systematic delays violate the constitutional speedy trial and due process rights of thousands of people facing misdemeanor charges in the Bronx.

The case has garnered local, national and international press coverage. Read about the case in the New York Times, CNN.com, New York Daily News and Reuters. The New York Times Editorial Board published an op-ed calling for the transformation of “the dysfunctional culture that has long plagued the justice system, and the citizens, of the Bronx.”

Listen to an interview with Ilann Maazel on NPR’s The Brian Lehrer Show.  ECBA attorneys Matthew Brinckerhoff and Doug Lieb are also working on the case.

 

Article

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.

Article

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.

 

Article

New Class Action Challenges Unconstitutional Delay in Bronx Criminal Court

This morning, four people filed a federal class action to end massive delays in misdemeanor cases in Bronx Criminal Court.  The suit, Trowbridge v. Cuomo, alleges that systemic delay violates the constitutional speedy trial and due process rights of thousands of people facing misdemeanor charges in the Bronx.

It now takes an average of 827 days to get a misdemeanor jury trial in Bronx Criminal Court.  In 2015, there were more than 45,000 misdemeanor arraignments in the Bronx, but fewer than 100 trials.

The Bronx has fewer misdemeanor case filings than Brooklyn or Manhattan, but more year-old misdemeanor cases than every other borough combined.

ECBA attorneys Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Ilann M. Maazel, and Doug Lieb represent the plaintiffs, along with lead counsel The Bronx Defenders and the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP.  For more information, see the press release here.

Article

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.

 

Article

Earl Ward Speaks on Panel on Wrongful Convictions

ECBA partner Earl S. Ward appeared on a panel at Fordham Law School to discuss wrongful convictions. The panelists discussed the problems with eye witness testimony, Brady material, and prosecutorial discretion. Earl has successfully represented many people challenging their convictions. Most recently, he helped secure over $30 million from New York State and New York City for three men who were convicted of a murder they did not commit. Two of the men spent 18 years in prison; the third was incarcerated for over 12 years. Read more about the Firm’s wrongful conviction work here.

Article

Tamir Rice Settlement in the News

On April 25, 2016, the City of Cleveland agreed to a $6 million payment to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit that arose from the tragic death of Tamir Rice. This settlement has received extensive coverage in the national and local press.

Read coverage of the settlement in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the Amsterdam News.

Listen to an interview with Jonathan Abady on NPR’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

Watch an interview with Zoe Salzman on Democracy Now!.