Two ECBA clients were featured by the New York Times in its recent article The People vs. Big Development. The article highlights a court order blocking a massive development project, heavily opposed by the local community, in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The New York City Council, represented by ECBA, and the Manhattan Borough President sued the City’s development agencies for approving the project without undergoing the City’s public land use review process, known as ULURP, which requires extensive community input and final approval by the City Council. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron granted a permanent injunction enjoining any construction on the project until a ULURP review is performed.
The article also highlights the legal challenge to the 200 Amsterdam tower, in which ECBA represents the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development in a suit challenging the developer’s creation of a “gerrymandered” 39-sided zoning lot. As The Times reports, the resulting out-of-scale tower would be over twice the height of nearby towers, and the “tallest north of 61st Street.”
On September 23, 2019 state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron granted an Article 78 Petition filed by ECBA on behalf of clients Council Member Rory I. Lancman and the Community Service Social of New York (“CSSNY”). The order compels the New York City Police Department to disclose statistics, which are required to be made public by City Law, regarding arrests made and civil summonses issued to individuals for fare evasion at each of the 472 subway stations in New York City. These statistics, which will provide the public with an important tool ensure accountability from the Police Department.
After CSSNY issued a detailed report reflecting that the vast majority of arrests and summonses for subway fare evasion occur in poor African-American communities, Council Member Lancman introduced legislation requiring the Police Department to release quarterly reports detailing the number of arrests under New York Penal Law § 165.15 and summonses under MTA Rule of Conduct § 1050.4 that were issued for fare evasion at each subway station throughout New York City and to break down the data by various demographic criteria, such as the race, gender, and age range of each person arrested or summonsed. Council Member’s Lancman’s proposed bill was unanimously approved by the City Council and went into law as New York City Administrative Code § 14-172 in January 2018. Since the law’s enactment, the Police Department had brazenly refused to comply with its obligations. Yesterday’s ruling will ensure that the City will receive the transparency that the City Council has required and that the public deserves.
Coverage of the decision in the New York Post is here.
As reported on CNN, ECBA filed suit against the MTA on June 18, 2019, alleging that it violated the First Amendment rights of Dame Products, a company that designs and manufactures innovative tools for women’s sexual pleasure and wellness.
Dame submitted proposed advertisements for its toys to the MTA in July 2018. At first, the MTA approved certain advertisements and provided Dame with creative feedback over the course of six months. Then, the MTA suddenly changed course and refused to display Dame’s advertisements on subways and other MTA property, even though the MTA already displays numerous ads for erectile dysfunction medication, condoms, and other products geared towards men. The Complaint details how the MTA’s decision to ban Dame’s advertisement amounts to unconstitutional censorship and reflects the MTA’s sexist views of women’s sexual health.
On March 14, 2019, Justice W. Franc Perry ruled in favor of firm clients, the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, in their ongoing action to halt the unlawful construction of a 668-foot residential mega-tower on a gerrymandered zoning lot at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, previously slated to be the tallest building on the Upper West Side. The Court held that the building permit rested on an unreasonable interpretation of the Zoning Resolution that was inconsistent with a plain reading of the statute, and remanded the building permit back to the BSA for further review consistent with the Court’s order. The Court also rejected the argument of the developer, Amsterdam Avenue Redevelopment Associates LLC, that simply because DOB had issued the permit in the first place, it was therefore entitled to complete the building. “Vested rights,” the Court wrote, “cannot be acquired by relying on an invalid permit.”
On March 1, 2019, ECBA won a significant victory on behalf of Stephanie Rosenfeld, a victim of a months-long illegal wiretap scheme perpetrated by an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn. Rejecting the City of New York’s efforts to absolve itself of any responsibility for the misconduct of one of its employees, the Court ruled that the City could be held liable for the unlawful wiretapping scheme under the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, the U.S. Constitution, and state law. The case is now proceeding to discovery against the City of New York, the Assistant District Attorney who conducted the illegal wiretaps, and other officials within the Brooklyn DA’s office.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (“NJDC”) and Marc R. Stanley filed a lawsuit against casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in the Southern District of New York. The case seeks damages from Mr. Adelson’s previous filing of a strategic case against public policy, or “SLAPP” suit, against the NJDC in 2012. After five years of litigation, two federal courts and the Supreme Court of Nevada all found that Adelson’s lawsuit against the NJDC should be dismissed because it was a SLAPP suit. Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute provides that those, like the NJDC, who prevail on a motion to dismiss a SLAPP suit may bring a new case of their own to recover the damages they suffered from that suit. The Plaintiffs are represented by ECBA partners Richard D. Emery and O. Andrew F. Wilson.
Articles describing the suit can be found here, here, and here.
On September 19, 2018, ECBA filed a Petition pursuant to Article 78 of the CPLR on behalf of New York City Council Member Rory I. Lancman, MTA Board Member David R. Jones, and the Community Service Society of New York (“CSSNY”) seeking an order to compel the New York City Police Department to comply with a New York City Law which requires it to post reports on its website regarding arrests made and civil summonses issued to individuals for fare evasion at each of the 472 subway stations in New York City.
After CSSNY issued a detailed report reflecting that the vast majority of arrests and summonses for subway fare evasion occur in poor African-American communities, Council Member Lancman introduced legislation requiring the Police Department to release quarterly reports detailing the number of arrests under New York Penal Law § 165.15 and summonses under MTA Rule of Conduct § 1050.4 that were issued for fare evasion at each subway station throughout New York City and to break down the data by various demographic criteria, such as the race, gender, and age range of each person arrested or summonsed. Council Member’s Lancman’s proposed bill was unanimously approved by the City Council and went into law as New York City Administrative Code § 14-172 in January 2018. Three required reporting periods have passed since the law’s enactment and the Police Department has brazenly refused to comply with its statutory obligation.
The Petitioners are represented by ECBA attorneys Richard D. Emery and David Berman. A copy of the Petition is available here, and coverage of this lawsuit in the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News is available here, here, and here.
The National Trial Lawyers recently announced that ECBA Co-Founder Richard Emery was named to its prestigious Top 100. This invitation-only organization is composed of the premier civil plaintiff and criminal defense trial attorneys across the country. Each member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 is chosen for their demonstration of success, experience, influence and leadership.
You can learn more about the National Trial Lawyers organization here.