ECBA, along with co-counsel, filed a Notice of Claim today on behalf of Sylvester and Iyunolu Osagie, the parents of 29-year-old Osaze Osagie, indicating their intent to sue the Pennsylvania State College Police Department (“SCPD”) and the officers who six months ago shot and killed their then 29-year old son. Sylvester Osagie asked the police to help him find Osaze, so that he could secure treatment for his suicidal son who was suffering a serious mental health crisis. Instead of helping Osaze, an officer shot him three times in the back, killing him.
“The mental health processes in place failed our son. The police procedures also failed our son. And the officers who responded to our son’s apartment failed him as well. We are bringing this case to make sure Osaze is the last person to die under such circumstances,” said Sylvester Osagie.
“Osaze would still be alive today if the police had followed standard procedures for handling mental health emergencies. This tragic loss of life didn’t have to happen; Osaze Osagie did not have to die.” said ECBA partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr.
Read the press release and coverage of the filing here, here, here and here.
ECBA partners Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and Elizabeth Saylor represent the family along with Pennsylvania lawyers Andrew Shubin and Kathleen Yurchak.
ECBA filed a case in the Eastern District of Michigan today against Detroit Police Department officers whose misconduct resulted in the wrongful conviction of Kendrick Scott, an innocent man. Detroit Police Department officers framed Mr. Scott for murder by beating up an illiterate, intoxicated sixteen-year-old boy until he falsely inculpated Mr. Scott and threatening another teenager with a history of mental illness to do the same. They concealed evidence that pointed to the victim’s husband as the likely true culprit. They threw Mr. Scott in jail, then they threw away the key.
After nearly 20 years of proclaiming his innocence and fighting to be exonerated, Mr. Scott was finally released in November 2018. Through this case, Mr. Scott hopes to vindicate his civil rights, shine the light on police abuse, and bring an end to a decades-long injustice.
“No amount of money can properly compensate Mr. Scott for the loss of twenty years of his life,” said ECBA partner Zoe Salzman.
“Mr. Scott’s story is tragic for its familiarity: a young black man, framed by police through a pattern of egregious misconduct, lost nearly two decades of his life for no reason,” said ECBA attorney Ashok Chandran.
Read more about the complaint and press coverage of the case here.
ECBA attorneys Zoe Salzman and Ashok Chandran represent Mr. Scott.
On September 13, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated a landmark federal lawsuit in New York against Donald Trump, prompted by his violations of the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution. The Second Circuit’s decision means that Trump may be ordered to provide extensive discovery into his business dealings with foreign and state governments. ECBA previously filed an amicus curiae brief in the District Court in support of the Plaintiff, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, on behalf of Sarah P. Chayes, an internationally-recognized expert in corruption and kleptocratic regimes.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and the New York Law Journal, among others, have covered this recent development. The Second Circuit’s decision is available here.
ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel and Emma L. Freeman represent Sarah Chayes.
On August 1, 2019, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron granted a preliminary injunction and Article 78 Petition blocking the construction of four massive towers in the Two Bridges neighborhood in Manhattan. The New York City Council, represented by ECBA, and the Manhattan Borough President sued the City’s development agencies for avoiding the City’s public land use review process, known as ULURP, which requires final approval by the City Council. ECBA attorneys Andrew G. Celli Jr., Debbie Greenberger, and David Berman represent the New York City Council.
The decision was covered by the New York Times, New York Post, Gothamist, and Curbed.
Today, ECBA client Jazmine Headley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of New York and its Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) peace officers and New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers who attacked and arrested her at the DeKalb Job Center on December 7, 2018. Simply because Ms. Headley was sitting on the floor waiting for her appointment, these officers brandished a taser in Ms. Headley’s face, forcibly yanked her one-year-old son from her arms, charged her with several crimes, and detained her on Rikers Island for days. Her experience is just one example of HRA security staff’s widespread abuse of New Yorkers who seek assistance with their public benefits.
Ms. Headley is represented by ECBA attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Emma Freeman. The Complaint is available here. A press release about the filing is available here.
To learn more, read coverage from the New York Law Journal, Politico, the New York Post, and Patch.
Juliet Dietrich—a disabled, 68-year-old former corrections officer—has filed suit against the City of New York and Department of Citywide Administrative Services Special Officer Charles Parker for false arrest and excessive force.
On August 6, 2018, Special Officer Parker pulled her from her car and arrested her over a perceived parking violation. Ms. Dietrich’s permit for her disability allowed her to use spaces designated for “any governmental agency.” Nonetheless, Special Officer Parker was angry that Ms. Dietrich was occupying a parking spot reserved for those associated with the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. Apparently, an able-bodied member of the Borough President’s administration—David Johnson—had demanded that her car be moved. Special Officer Parker reached into the car, grabbed Ms. Dietrich by the arm and yanked her from the vehicle onto the street. Special Officer Parker then arrested Ms. Dietrich on false charges. Ms. Dietrich had no record. But because of the defendants, she was held in custody for more than twelve hours and then forced to fight false charges against her for nine months. Ms. Dietrich’s case challenges this abuse of power on the doorstep of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.
Ms. Dietrich is represented by ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Alanna Kaufman. The Complaint is available here. An article about the case in the New York Daily News is available here.
On July 3, 2019, after nearly three years of litigation, ECBA won a significant constitutional victory when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the unsealing of court records in Giuffre v. Maxwell. The firm appeared on behalf of Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, an intervenor in the case, and it successfully argued that the wholesale sealing of records by the district judge violated the First Amendment’s “presumption of openness” for judicial documents; the presumption, the court reaffirmed, is essential to ensuring transparency and public oversight of the courts.
ECBA’s application for unsealing was followed by related applications filed by The Miami Herald and another media outlet, both of which were also granted.
Professor Dershowitz was represented by Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and David Lebowitz.
Coverage of the decision can be found here and here.
ECBA Partner Zoe Salzman was quoted in a Law360 article discussing the impact of a new case holding that New York’s CPLR 7515 does not prohibit arbitration of sexual harassment claims. “It’s just a fact when there’s an arbitration clause in an employment discrimination dispute, the company gets to keep that dispute out of the public eye,” Salzman said. “This may be the only decision analyzing 7515, but it’s not the only decision that reads arbitration clauses very broadly in a very pro-employer way, and in a way that greatly undermines the ability of employees to vindicate their rights and to protect other employees from future discrimination.” But Salzman noted that legal arguments can still be made in support of the statute and that public sentiment is moving away from the use of arbitration pacts. “I think there is a shift going on right now and the state legislatures are saying very strongly what I think the people of the state are saying very strongly — which is that they think those agreements are unconscionable and against public policy and they don’t want to see them,” Salzman said.
ECBA won a landmark ruling in Breest v. Haggis. ECBA represents a young woman named Haleigh Breest in a case alleging that she was raped and sexually assaulted by the director Paul Haggis. In a legal filing, Haggis swore under oath that he had not had intercourse with Breest. But he refused to give a sample of his DNA to compare to the sample left in Breest’s tights. Justice Robert R. Reed of the New York Supreme Court ruled that Haggis had to provide his DNA because, if it matched the DNA on the tights, it could help prove Breest’s claim of rape and rebut Haggis’s denial of intercourse. “This is an important decision by the court. We believe it is the first case of the #MeToo era to order disclosure of DNA evidence,” said Breest’s lawyer, Zoe Salzman.
The decision can be found here.
Read more about Justice Reed’s decision granting the DNA sample here and here.
ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman, and Emma Freeman represent the plaintiff Haleigh Breest.
To read Ilann Maazel’s Civil Rights Litigation column titled “SCOTUS Goes One for Two in Police Decisions,” click here.