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.
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.
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.
ECBA, together with the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project (“PRP”) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Beverly Ann Griffin, the mother of Bradley Ballard, a 39-year-old man suffering from schizophrenia and diabetes, who died on Rikers Island last year after he was improperly placed in solitary confinement and then inexplicably denied food, water, his medication, and other medical and mental health care for seven days. The City Medical Examiner ruled Mr. Ballard’s death a homicide. The lawsuit names as defendants the City of New York; several current and former high-ranking Department of Correction Officials; Corizon, the private corporation responsible for health care at Rikers Island; and the health care and correction workers responsible for Mr. Ballard’s care during the period of neglect. In an emotional press conference, Ms. Griffin told the City, “You are there to correct the inmate, not to destroy him.” Ms. Griffin is represented by ECBA’s Jonathan S. Abady and Hayley Horowitz, along with PRP’s Jonathan Chasan and Mary Lynne Werlwas.
To read the Complaint, click here. To read the New York Times’ story on this case, click here. The New York Daily News covered Mr. Ballard’s case and the City’s refusal to defend Corizon here.
ECBA has been selected to represent the New York City Council in two cases where Mayor Bloomberg has challenged the legality of duly-enacted local legislation.
In Mayor v. City Council, # 451543/2013, the firm is defending the constitutionality of the Community Safety Act (Local Law 71), which creates a civil remedy for persons subjected to bias–based policing. The Act, which allows private suits against the New York Police Department for injunctive relief, was enacted in the wake of a federal court finding that the NYPD’s “stop & frisk” activities violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the legislation, but the City Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto. In the lawsuit, the Mayor alleges that the Act is preempted by state Criminal Procedure Law. Unions representing NYPD sergeants and line officers have joined the suit against the City Council. ECBA lawyers Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Vasudha Talla are handling the case.
Separately, in New York State Association for Affordable Housing et al. v. City Council, # 158093/2013, a trade organization of real estate developers has sued to invalidate Local Law 44, an amendment to the City’s Administrative Code that requires developers to report the wages of workers employed on City-financed housing construction projects. The Bloomberg Administration, joining with the plaintiff trade group, alleges that the law is preempted by state minimum wage and housing finance statutes. ECBA lawyers Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Debra Greenberger are handling the case.
Today, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement between the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and Bond NY Properties in Cales v. New Castle Hill Realty, et al., a case brought against multiple real estate companies and agents alleging source of income discrimination. The lawsuit, based on testing conducted by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) in 2008 and 2009, found that certain real estate companies discriminated against prospective renters on the basis of source of income. Real estate agents working for the defendants refused to show apartments to prospective tenants who had disabilities, were not working because of disabilities, received Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and/or had a New York City rental subsidy.
As part of the settlement, Bond agreed to adopt an anti-discrimination policy and to provide fair housing training to its employees. Bond also agreed to certain advertising practices and will modify its rental applications and policies to account for all sources of income. Bond was the sole remaining defendant in the case and with this final settlement agreement, the case is fully resolved. In total, the lawsuit resulted in damages and attorney’s fees of more than $550,000, as well as training and changes in policies by defendants. The FHJC was represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and Debbie Greenberger.
To read more about the case, click here.
ECBA filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in Miami this morning on behalf of Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones against Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Assistant State Attorney Richard Scruggs, and an SAO investigator.
The Complaint asserts sixteen claims for fabrication and concealment of evidence, false arrest, malicious prosecution, civil rights conspiracy, and violations of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. The Complaint also alleges that Rundle, Regalado, and others engaged in a conspiracy in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Ms. Spence-Jones is represented by ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Jennifer Keighley, Ray Taseff in Miami, and Prof. Charles J. Ogletree.
To read the full press release, click here. To read the complaint, click here.