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Firm Joins Massive Ohio State University Sex Abuse Case

ECBA has joined as plaintiffs’ counsel in the Ohio State University sex abuse case, representing dozens of survivors of sexual abuse by OSU doctor Richard Strauss. While employed by Ohio State, Dr. Strauss is believed to have abused hundreds and even thousands of Ohio State students, over a period of decades. Ilann M. Maazel and Debra Greenberger at ECBA are co-counseling the case with attorneys Adele Kimmel at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and Scott Smith in Columbus, Ohio. The case is captioned Snyder-Hill, et al. v. The Ohio State University, 18-CV-00736, in federal court in Columbus.

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Chief Judge Requests Federal Investigation in ECBA Class Action Challenging Illegal Transfers of Rikers Detainees to Albany

Chief Judge McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied New York City’s motion to dismiss a federal civil rights class action brought by four young pretrial detainees who allege that they were illegally transferred to an upstate jail in Albany, where they were beaten, sexually assaulted, and held in solitary confinement without due process, and requested a criminal investigation into the plaintiffs’ allegations.

 

Chief Judge McMahon noted: “The Court is deeply troubled by the allegations . . . .  [T]here is reason to conclude, even at this early stage, that at least some of the horrors that are described” in the complaint “actually took place.”  The Court referred the matter for investigation to federal and state prosecutors’ offices in New York and Albany.  The New York Daily News reported on the Court’s decision.

 

Plaintiffs Davon Washington, Steven Espinal, John Doe, and Pariis Tillery allege that they were suddenly transferred without notice by the City of New York to the Albany County Correctional Facility, cut off from their criminal defense lawyers and their families.  In Albany, they were systematically subjected to brutal beatings and sexual assaults upon their arrival. For the entirety of their time in Albany, they were held in round-the-clock isolation in solitary confinement without meaningful human contact.  The lawsuit seeks to transfer all New York City detainees back from Albany and to prevent the City from sending detainees there in the future.

 

The plaintiffs are represented by Katie Rosenfeld and Doug Lieb of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP and Steven Goldman of the Law Offices of Goldman & Associates.

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Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer Files Lawsuit Seeking Community Review of NYCHA’s Plans for Holmes Towers

On April 18, 2019, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer filed an action to ensure that NYCHA complies with state and local law requiring full community input into its plans to redevelop the Holmes Towers public housing project on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. NYCHA plans to allow a private developer to construct a mixed-income 50-story tower in the middle of the Holmes Towers, obliterating a central playground and large areas of open space that currently occupy the land (shown below) and violating the neighborhood zoning requirements that protect access to light and air. The suit alleges that the NYCHA and the Respondents have acted unlawfully by circumventing the important role of the Borough President and the community in reviewing land use proposals in Manhattan. Through this lawsuit, Borough President Brewer seeks to ensure that the important goal of generating much-needed capital for public housing revitalization does not trump the public and City elected leaders’ roles in decision-making about significant development projects in their community.

The Borough President is represented by ECBA attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Ashok Chandran. The petition and brief can be found here and here, respectively.  Coverage of the case filling can be found here and here.

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Black Intelligence Detectives Settle Bias Suit for $974,000

ECBA settled a suit on behalf of three black detectives who were denied promotions within the elite Intelligence Division of the NYPD. The City will pay $700,000 in damages to the detectives, as well as $374,000 in attorneys’ fees. For well over a decade, the Intelligence Division maintained a subjective promotions policy, administered by white supervisors, who refused to promote deserving black detectives. The three detectives joined the Intelligence Division in 2001 and assisted with the cleanup and investigation of the September 11 attacks. They tracked hundreds of leads and suspects. In spite of their achievements and strong recommendations from their direct supervisors, they were repeatedly passed up for promotion because of their race.

The settlement was reported in numerous papers, including the New York Daily News. The detectives’ experiences were also covered in an article on the New York Times’ front page, which led to a Times’ editorial. ABC, Spectrum NY1, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post also previously covered the case. The key case documents are available at the following links: federal complaint, EEOC charge, EEOC finding of probable cause of discrimination, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Right to Sue letter.

ECBA’s Elizabeth SaylorEarl Ward, Jessica Clarke, and Doug Lieb, along with Chris Dunn with the NYCLU, represent Sara Coleman, the widow of Detective Theodore Coleman, and Detectives Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens.

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ECBA Partner Zoe Salzman Gives Tips for Victims of Employment Discrimination

Zoe Salzman, a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP who specializes in sexual harassment and employment discrimination, was recently interviewed by Super Lawyers magazine.

The article gives tips for what to do if you feel you have been harassed or discriminated against at work.  Ms. Salzman said: “Calling a lawyer as soon as it happened is going to give you the best understanding of whether you were wronged and, if you were, what your options are.”

Ms. Salzman was named as a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2018.

Click here to read the full article.

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ECBA Wins Legal Victory in 200 Amsterdam Case: Court Orders Board of Standards and Appeals to Revisit Building Permit for Out-of-Scale 55-Story Tower

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.”

Read the decision here.

Read the coverage of the win here and here.

MAS and CFESD were represented in the proceeding by ECBA lawyers Katherine Rosenfeld, Richard D. Emery, and Ashok Chandran, and co-counsel Charles Weinstock, Esq.

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ECBA and A Better Balance Client Successfully Resolve Her Gender Discrimination Claim Against MOMA PS1

Nikki Columbus, who sued MoMA PS1 in the New York City Human Rights Commission for revoking her job offer after learning she had just had a baby, settled her claims with PS1, in an agreement requiring PS1 to pay Ms. Columbus a financial award and to update its written policies to protect women and caregivers. “What happened to me was wrong and clearly against the law,” Ms. Columbus said in a statement. “I decided to speak out in order to protect other women at MoMA PS1 and beyond.”

The New York Times covered her lawsuit and the settlement.

Ms. Columbus was represented by A Better Balance and ECBA lawyers Elizabeth Saylor, Katherine Rosenfeld, Andrew Wilson, and Ali Frick.

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Federal Lawsuit Resolved Providing Housing Accessibility for Disabled Clients

ECBA attorneys and the Office of the United States Attorney General for the Southern District of New York negotiated a $525,000 settlement for disabled residents at a Mt. Kisco senior condominium building.  The settlement includes retrofits to common areas and individual units, as well as damages for ECBA’s five clients.  Retrofits have already been completed to make accessible the buildings’ front door, lobby doors on each floor at the elevator, and interior entrance to the garage.  Additional retrofits will be made to replace patio/balcony doors, correct slopes in the parking lot that are too steep, and modify other inaccessible features in the building.  The defendants, JOBCO, Bedford Development LLC, Carnegie Construction Corp., Robert Pascucci, and Warshauer Mellusi Warshauer Architects P.C., agreed to resolve ECBA’s clients’ claims after the filing of a federal lawsuit under the Fair Housing Act.  The Plaintiffs are represented by ECBA attorneys, Diane L. Houk and Jessica Clarke.

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