Article

Hal Lieberman Addresses Disciplinary Commission’s Report on Statewide Attorney Discipline

In response to the publication of the Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline’s September 2015 Report, Hal Lieberman published an article in the New York Law Journal evaluating the recommendations made in the report with respect to uniformity and fairness.

Mr. Lieberman traces the impact of the recommendations on sanctions and procedure. He commends the proposal of adopting statewide sanctioning guidelines, which will lead to uniform sanctioning outcomes in the future. He also supports the proposal that would yield statewide uniform rules and procedures governing the processing of disciplinary matters, which he calls a “wholly refreshing departure.” Read the full article here.

Article

Former Pro-Nazi “Settlement League” Sued for Racially Discriminatory Housing Rules

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.

Plaintiffs are represented by ECBA attorneys Diane Houk and Andrew Wilson.

Read the New York Times’ coverage of the lawsuit and the GASL here; read the full complaint here.

Article

Tamir Rice’s Family Calls for Special Prosecutor to Proceed with Criminal Charges against Police

ECBA represents the mother, sister, and estate administrator of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers in November 2014 while he was playing in the park.  On October 16, 2015, ECBA sent a letter on behalf of Tamir’s family to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, criticizing his handling of the criminal investigation into the police officers who killed Tamir and calling for appointment of an independent special prosecutor.

The letter criticizes the prosecutor’s 11-month delay in presenting this case to a grand jury and condemns his decision to retain pro-police “experts” and release their reports exculpating the officers to the media.  The letter documents that the prosecutor’s so-called “experts” have a track-record of bias in favor of the police.  It also lays out some of the many legal and factual errors in their reports, including that they ignored contradictory video evidence, the fact that the shooter’s prior employer found him emotionally unfit to be a police officer, and the Department of Justice’s finding that the Cleveland police have a pattern of using excessive force.

Because of the way the prosecutor has handled the case so far, the Rice family now believes that the grand jury presentation will be nothing short of a charade aimed at whitewashing this police killing of a 12-year-old child.

Read ECBA’s letter to Prosecutor McGinty here.

Read some of the coverage about the letter in the Washington Post.
To read the New York Times‘ coverage click here.
To read the Wall Street Journal‘s coverage click here.

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, and Zoe Salzman represent the mother, sister, and estate administrator of Tamir Rice.

Article

ECBA Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Lucille Roberts

October 2, 2015 – Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady filed a discrimination lawsuit against the health club chain, Lucille Roberts, in Manhattan federal court.  Lucille Roberts employees targeted, harassed, screamed at, and banned school teacher Yosefa Jalal, all because she wore a modest, fitted, knee-length skirt.  Lucille Roberts even threatened to call the police if she did not leave the premises.

Ms. Jalal is an elementary school teacher, a Master’s student in childhood education, and an observant Jewish woman who follows the Jewish laws of modesty.  She repeatedly told Lucille Roberts she needed to wear the skirt for religious reasons.

“All I want is to work out and take classes like everyone else,” said Ms. Jalal.  “It isn’t fair for Lucille Roberts to target me because I’m Jewish.”

“A half century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we still have a company discriminating on the basis of religion,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, and counsel for Ms. Jalal.  “The repeated harassment by Lucille Roberts is inexplicable and indefensible.”

Lucille Roberts has also targeted other observant Jewish women who wear fitted, knee-length skirts.

To read the complaint, click here.
To read Lucille Roberts’ “Dress Code,” click here.
To view the photo of the skirt, click here.

Article

Case Challenging Housing Discrimination Against Families Has Settled

A federal court has approved a settlement in a case brought by ECBA challenging an “age-targeted” development project on Kensington Road in the Village of Bronxville.  ECBA filed suit on behalf of Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. (“WRO”), against Bronxville and its chosen developer, Gateway Kensington LLC, alleging that the age-targeted project discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act and New York State Human Rights Law.

After the lawsuit was filed, Bronxville amended the Village Code to eliminate the provision for age-targeted development.  In the settlement approved by the court, the Village agreed to pay $95,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and to issue a new permit for the Kensington Road project that is not age-targeted.

The defendants also agreed to attend a training on fair housing laws.  In addition, the Village will host a public workshop and distribute a brochure on fair housing laws. The Mayor of Bronxville will also issue a statement explaining that the project is not age-targeted and that families with children are welcome in Bronxville.  The defendants denied the allegations and did not admit liability.

WRO was represented by ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and Zoe Salzman.

Article

ECBA Succeeds in Motion to Disqualify Plaintiffs’ Co-Counsel

ECBA recently succeeded on a motion to disqualify plaintiffs’ co-counsel in a pending litigation in New York Supreme Court.  Retained as special ethics counsel on the disqualification motion, ECBA was able to convince the Court to disqualify the firm because one of its associates had previously represented defendants in the same matter, and had obtained material client confidences, before he moved laterally to the plaintiffs’ firm.

ECBA attorneys Hal R. Lieberman, Hayley Horowitz, and Zoe Salzman handled the disqualification motion.

 

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

.