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.
Together with the Legal Aid Society, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Michael Cruz, who was beaten by correction officers at Rikers Island so brutally that he suffered massive internal bleeding and was required to undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen. Cruz, who was only 20 years old at the time, was assaulted by multiple correction officers after asking for a mental health evaluation prior to being sent into solitary confinement. Apparently annoyed by his request, multiple officers–with the tacit approval of a captain–repeatedly kicked and punched Mr. Cruz, leaving him with a fractured rib. After weeks of complaints about his pain, Mr. Cruz was finally taken to the hospital, where his massive internal bleeding was discovered. Hospital staff informed him that if he had been left in his cell untreated much longer, Mr. Cruz could have died.
Mr. Cruz is represented by ECBA attorneys Jonathan Abady, Samuel Shapiro, and Ali Frick, and by the Legal Aid Society. Read the New York Post’s coverage here. To read the full complaint, click here.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a second petition brought by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady to secure materials relating to the Madoff fraud for use in a Swiss criminal proceeding. Based on ECBA’s December 12, 2014 victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court held that the materials sought were appropriately subject to disclosure under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a statute that permits discovery in the United States for use in foreign or international proceedings. The Court ordered immediate production of the materials, and a motion for a stay in the Second Circuit was denied. ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Sam Shapiro litigated the case on behalf of a Swiss national.
In a matter of “first impression” in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady successfully obtained materials concerning the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme for use in a Swiss criminal proceeding. The Court held that the materials sought were appropriately subject to disclosure under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a statute that permits discovery in the United States for use in foreign or international proceedings. Rejecting arguments that the Swiss proceeding was not a “foreign or international tribunal” as that term is defined in the statute, the Court held that the Swiss proceeding is “exactly the type of proceeding” that the statute is intended to reach. ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Sam Shapiro litigated the case on behalf of a Swiss national.
The Southern District of New York denied efforts to quash a subpoena ECBA had obtained on behalf of a foreign national to gather documents in the United States in aid of proceedings in Switzerland arising from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Sam Shapiro successfully argued that the materials were appropriately subject to the statutory and discretionary requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1782. The matter is now on appeal to the Second Circuit.
To read the opinion, click here.
A federal judge approved a settlement agreement in ERASE Racism, et al. v. LLR Realty, LLC , et al., a case filed by ECBA in 2013 alleging race discrimination at a 74-unit rental apartment building in the Nassau County village of Mineola based on a testing investigation conducted by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC). The three-year agreement provides for injunctive relief, including the adoption of non-discriminatory rental policies, advertising available apartments, and attending fair housing training. It also provides ERASE Racism, the FHJC, and three African American testers with $165,000 in damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. Plaintiffs were represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk and Sam Shapiro.
ECBA has filed a federal lawsuit in Albany on behalf of a disabled woman raped by a fellow resident at a New York State group home. The suit, against four employees of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, alleges that staff turned a blind eye to the disabled woman’s prior complaints of sexual abuse and failed to take basic steps to protect her. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel, Diane Houk, and Sam Shapiro filed the suit.
To read more click here. To read the Complaint, click here.
ECBA filed a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court on behalf of ERASE Racism, a Long Island-based non-profit organization, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), and three African American testers against the owner and manager of Town House Apartments in Mineola, New York. The Complaint alleges that African Americans were not shown the same apartments that whites were shown, were quoted a higher monthly rent, and were told to call back in a month or more later because there are people waiting ahead of them for the next available apartment. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk and Samuel Shapiro of ECBA.
To read the complaint, click here.
Today, ECBA and The Bronx Defenders filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of five Bronx residents, charging the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) with targeting Black and Latino communities for marijuana arrests and “manufacturing” misdemeanor crimes against residents in order to meet departmental quotas. All five plaintiffs were falsely accused by NYPD officers of possessing marijuana in “public view,” arrested, held in custody, and charged with misdemeanors. In fact, however, each man possessed only a small amount of marijuana for personal use in his pocket — discovered after an illegal stop and search — for which each should have received a simple ticket under New York law. By lying about the facts, and claiming the marijuana was in “public view,” the NYPD officers turned what would have been, for most New Yorkers, a minor incident, into a full-blown ordeal.
The plaintiffs are represented by Katherine Rosenfeld and Sam Shapiro.
To read the complaint, click here. To read the New York Times article about the case, click here.
Today, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement between the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative, Inc. (EPOC). The lawsuit, filed in February 2010, alleged that Edgewater Park and Silver Beach Gardens, two housing cooperatives in the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx, and a real estate broker were discriminating against African American prospective home buyers. The two communities, which together are comprised of 1,025 homes, required that prospective buyers provide three references from existing shareholders, a rule the complaint claimed discriminated against African Americans.
In addition to eliminating the three shareholder reference policy and requiring EPOC to abide by fair housing laws, the settlement agreement requires that the cooperative provide fair housing training for employees, prominently display fair housing posters, adopt a non-discrimination policy, and notify local brokers about the policy. Further, EPOC will purchase advertising space in Bronx newspapers marketing Edgewater Park as a “welcoming community” that invites “all home buyers to consider purchasing a home.” Finally, EPOC will pay $385,000 to the FHJC for damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.
The other cooperative in the case, Silver Beach Gardens, settled with the FHJC in May 2011 for similar injunctive relief and $115,000 in damages, fees, and costs. The defendant real estate broker also agreed to pay damages and surrendered her real estate license. The plaintiffs in the case were represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk, Adam Pulver, and Sam Shapiro.