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Dan Kornstein Joins ECBA as a Partner

ECBA is pleased to announce that Daniel J. Kornstein has joined the firm as a partner. Mr. Kornstein is a distinguished and experienced trial lawyer and appellate advocate. In his 42 years practicing law, he has conducted over 100 trial-type proceedings (including 20 jury trials) and argued more than 70 appeals. His varied litigation practice spans many subject areas, including First Amendment, securities, commercial, banking and finance, trusts and estates, employment, product liability, family law, and international matters. Mr. Kornstein comes to ECBA from the prominent litigation boutique Kornstein Veisz Wexler & Pollard, LLP, which he founded. In addition to his primary focus on commercial litigation, Mr. Kornstein will be bringing defamation and constitutional law cases with him to ECBA.

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Racial Discrimination in Lending Case Settled

A lawsuit filed by ECBA alleging that M&T Bank discriminated on the basis of race and national origin in its lending practices has been resolved for $485,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees, plus changes in the bank’s loan products and policies. M&T Bank agreed not to use neighborhood racial criteria in its residential mortgage programs, to revise its fair lending policies and training program for loan officers, and to implement other reforms. In their complaint filed in early 2015, nine African American, Hispanic, South Asian, and white testers, along with the Fair Housing Justice Center, alleged that two of the bank’s New York City loan officers had discriminated against them during the pre-application stage of inquiring about home mortgages. Even though minority testers were assigned by FHJC to have more income, greater assets, fewer debts, and higher credit scores than their white counterparts, they alleged that the bank told them to consider lower home prices, higher cost loans or, in one instance, not to buy a home.  Further, the plaintiffs alleged that they were steered away from certain loan products as well as neighborhoods because of their race and the racial composition of New York City neighborhoods.

Plaintiffs were represented by Diane L. Houk and R. Orion Danjuma.

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Disability Housing Discrimination Case Settles for $1.3 million

A federal court has approved a $1.3 million settlement relating to the design and construction of two housing developments in Queens and Dutchess Counties, New York. The plaintiffs, a disabled woman who purchased a ground floor unit at the Queens site and the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), alleged that the developers, architects, and site engineers failed to design and build the developments in compliance with the Fair Housing Act, rendering them inaccessible to residents and guests with physical disabilities.

Defendants will pay $900,000 for damages, attorneys’ fees, and retrofits to the individual plaintiff’s unit, driveway, and sidewalks.  Defendants will also retrofit ground floor units and certain common areas at the Dutchess County project at their expense and have future residential sites reviewed for compliance. In addition, the settlement provides $400,000 for the FHJC to use to provide financial assistance to income eligible homeowners and renters with physical disabilities seeking to make accessibility modifications to their existing housing, including unit owners at the Queens development.

Plaintiffs were represented by ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and Ali Frick, and by James E. Bahamonde of the Law Offices of James E. Bahamonde, P.C.

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ECBA Ranked Tier 1 for Civil Rights Law by US News & World Report

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP is proud to announce that the firm has been named to the 2016 U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list. For the fourth consecutive year, ECBA was ranked as a Tier 1 firm for Civil Rights Law.

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Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP Now Lead Counsel in Tamir Rice Police Shooting

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) is lead counsel representing the Estate of Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old child, was tragically shot and killed by Cleveland police officers on November 22, 2014 in a case which has now received widespread attention across the nation. The firm also represents Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, and his sister.  ECBA is co-counseling the case with The Chandra Law Firm, LLC from Cleveland, Ohio and FirmEquity of Chicago, Illinois.

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New York City To Pay $50,001 and Attorneys’ Fees to OWS Protester Who Was Pepper Sprayed and Falsely Arrested

The City has agreed to pay $50,001 as well as ECBA’s attorneys’ fees and costs to resolve the federal civil rights lawsuit of Kelly Schomburg, who was pepper sprayed without provocation and falsely arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest. ECBA attorneys Debra L. Greenberger and Earl S. Ward represent Ms. Schomburg. The Daily News, the New York Law Journal, the Associated Press, NPR, and the Guardian, among other outlets, covered the lawsuit.

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Bipartisan Group Sues To Close New York’s Corporate Donation Loophole

Today, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady and the Brennan Center for Justice, on behalf of several former and current State legislators and other plaintiffs, filed suit against the New York State Board of Elections to close the State’s infamous “LLC Loophole.” Since the Loophole was created by the BOE in 1996, contributors donating through LLCs have circumvented contribution limits and disclosure requirements that the Legislature created to protect the integrity of New York’s democratic process — and injected millions of secret dollars into state elections. In April the Brennan Center and Emery Celli asked the BOE to close the Loophole, but the board, in a 2-2 vote, refused to rescind its earlier decision and thereby defeated this attempt at reform. This lawsuit presents a promising opportunity to close the Loophole once and for all. ECBA attorneys Andrew G. Celli Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Ali Frick represent the bipartisan group of plaintiffs.

The New York TimesThe Daily News, The Albany Times Union, The Associated Press, Newsday, and The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, among other outlets, covered the lawsuit. Click here to read the press release about the case. On July 21, 2015, the New York Times editorial board To read the New York Times editorial board called on the court to adopt ECBA and the Brennan Center’s position and close the LLC Loophole.

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$3.5 Million Settlement for Rikers Island Plaintiffs

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady (ECBA), together with The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project, has agreed to settle the individual claims for compensation for the named plaintiffs in the class action Nunez v. New York for a total of over $3.5 million.  Each of the twelve men was severely injured as a result of beatings by guards in the City jails.  All twelve were named plaintiffs in the class action, which was filed in 2012 to halt excessive force by City jail staff.  To read the New York Post’s coverage of the settlement, click here.

This settlement follows on the heels of the major reforms announced last month as part of an agreement with New York City to reform the widespread abuse of prisoners by correction staff on Rikers Island.

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$6.6 Million Class Action Settlement on Behalf of Medical Residents

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 info@nyficasettlement.com.  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.

To read Law360’s coverage, click here.

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Sweeping Settlement in Pine Bush anti-Semitic Bullying Case

As reported in the New York Times and 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.