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Celli to Lead Independent Investigation of Rochester City Government in the Wake of the Death of Daniel Prude

The Council of the City of Rochester, NY, has selected ECBAWM’S Andrew G. Celli, Jr. to lead an independent investigation of Rochester city government in the wake of the death of Daniel Prude, a mentally ill man who died in police custody last Spring.  The death had been attributed to a drug overdose, but police body camera footage and the report of the Monroe County Medical Examiner released in September show that Mr. Prude died of asphyxia while being restrained by Rochester police.  The investigation will focus on whether there was an attempt by any city official or employee to suppress the truth about the circumstances of Mr. Prude’s death.   In addition to Mr. Celli, ECBAWM partner Katherine Rosenfeld and associate Scout Katovitch will conduct the investigation. Stories about ECBAWM’s investigation can be found in Spectrum News, WXXI News, and the Democrat and Chronicle.

The subpoenas issued in this investigation can be found here.

ECBAWM also represents the Rochester City Council in defending a case brought by the local police union to invalidate a charter amendment that created an all-civilian Police Accountability Board with the power to discipline officers found to have committed misconduct.  You can read about ECBAWM’s work in Rochester in the Democrat and Chronicle.

 

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ECBAWM Represents City of Hoboken Against Big Oil Companies for Climate Change Deceptions

ECBAWM and co-counsel, Krovatin Nau LLC, represent Hoboken, New Jersey in litigation filed yesterday against ExxonMobil, several other big oil companies, and the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s largest lobby, to hold them accountable for more than a half-century of deception about climate change, which has led to devastating impacts on Hoboken.

The defendants have waged massive, decades-long disinformation campaigns to deceive the public about the central role of fossil fuels in causing climate change, all while spending billions of dollars to protect their own infrastructure from climate change and raking in billions of dollars in profits from their ever-expanding production, marketing, and sale of fossil fuels. Hoboken is on the front lines of the climate crisis masked by Defendants’ deceptions. As Superstorm Sandy’s overwhelming destruction made clear in 2012, accelerating sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms caused by climate change pose grave threats to the city, particularly its residents of color, who disproportionately live in flood-prone areas.

Hoboken has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on flood adaptation and mitigation measures made necessary by climate change, and it will incur significant additional costs in the future. Through this case, Hoboken seeks to hold some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies accountable for the costs they have imposed on the city.

To read the complaint, click here.

To read a press release about this lawsuit, click here. Read coverage of the lawsuit from NJ.com, ABC7, and InsideClimateNews.

ECBAWM Attorneys Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Jonathan S. Abady, Ananda V. Burra, and Max Selver, along with Gerald Krovatin of Krovatin Nau LLC, represent the City of Hoboken.

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$3.2 Million Settlement Reached in Illegal Wiretap Class Action

A federal class action brought on behalf of individuals whose communications were illegally intercepted through a scheme orchestrated by a former Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney has been settled with New York City and employees of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for $3.2 million.

ECBAWM attorneys Richard D. Emery, Samuel Shapiro and Scout Katovich, along with co-counsel Wiggin & Dana LLP, represent the class, whose communications were intercepted as the result of former Brooklyn ADA Tara Lenich creating fake court orders to fraudulently obtain wiretaps for the phones of a detective with whom Lenich had an affair and a woman Lenich believed to be in a romantic relationship with the detective.

Filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the agreement settles Federal Wiretap Act allegations against the City of New York and employees of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Lenich did not participate in the settlement.

You can read more about this case in Law360. The case is Rosenfeld et al. v. Lenich et al. (1:18-cv-06720, E.D.N.Y.).

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ECBAWM Sues Real Estate Developer Over Holocaust Denial Comments

ECBAWM filed suit today on behalf of Alison Greene. The complaint alleges that Ms. Greene was the victim of anti-Semitic and gender discrimination at the hands of her prior employer, the real estate developer El Ad Group. According to the complaint, El Ad Executive Vice President William “Bill” Harvey, made Holocaust denial comments, saying the concentration camps were not “that big a deal” and “the Holocaust wasn’t as bad as people said it was.” The complaint explains that Ms. Greene, who is Jewish and was very upset by these remarks, complained to El Ad’s legal and human resources departments, but El Ad did nothing and an El Ad human resources employee actually laughed at Ms. Greene when she reported her distress at these remarks. The complaint further alleges that El Ad also tolerated rampant sexism and gender discrimination against Ms. Greene and other female employees. “No company should tolerate anti-Semitism and Holocaust denials in New York City in 2020, especially not one with El Ad’s Israeli origins,” said ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman.

Read the complaint here and press coverage about the case here.

ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman represents Alison Greene.

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Lawsuit Challenges Louisville’s Military-Grade Protest Response

ECBAWM and co-counsel the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a class-action lawsuit against the City of Louisville, Kentucky, its Mayor Greg Fischer, and several Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (“LMPD”) officials and officers to enjoin the LMPD from using military-grade crowd control weapons against peaceful protesters, and it seeks damages on behalf of several such protesters who have already been harmed by these brutish tactics.

After the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many other Black people who have died at the hands of police, people in Louisville joined in the wave of protests across the country to advocate for an end to racist and violent policing. In response to this courageous exercise of First Amendment rights, the LMPD attacked the peaceful crowds, indiscriminately firing at them with tear gas, pepper bullets, flash bangs, and other military-grade weapons designed for enemy combat. In some cases, officers fired live ammunition into the crowds, striking several protesters. When journalists attempted to document this unconstitutional use of force, officers tracked them down and sprayed them with more pepper bullets and beat them with batons.

“Louisville is using weapons of war against its own citizens,” said ECBAWM partner Sam Shapiro. “It is trying to silence peaceful protestors through unjustified arrests and trumped-up charges. Shockingly, its mayor and the leadership of the LMPD are endorsing this unconstitutional conduct. Our clients are committed to fighting back against these practices. They are bringing this case to make Louisville safe for all peaceful protestors.”

To read the complaint, click here.

To read a press release about this lawsuit, click here.

ECBAWM’s Earl S. WardO. Andrew F. WilsonSam Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl, along with attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky represent Plaintiffs.

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ECBAWM Client’s Essay on Prison Abuse Published in The Appeal

In his article for The Appeal, “In This Moment of Reckoning Around Police Violence, Don’t Forget the Unseen Abuses of People Who Are Incarcerated,” our client Vernon Horn writes of his firsthand experiences being brutalized while in prison. Mr. Horn served 17 years for a crime he did not commit before being exonerated. We currently represent Mr. Horn in his civil lawsuit against the City of New Haven, three individual police officers, and a Connecticut firearms examiner based on conduct that we allege included fabrication and concealing of evidence leading to his wrongful conviction.

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Earl S. Ward and Ilann M. Maazel Become Name Partners at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel

The New York City-based law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady has added two named partners: Earl S. Ward and Ilann M. Maazel. The firm will be known as Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP (“ECBAWM”).

Earl Ward has litigated cases with the firm since 1998 and joined the firm as a partner in 2012.  Mr. Ward specializes in criminal defense and civil rights matters. He has tried over a hundred cases to verdict and has been involved in many high-profile cases. He has represented numerous victims of police violence including the family of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers, and the family of John Collado who was shot and killed by a New York City police officer. His cases have been featured on 20/20, Dateline, Snapped, and the HBO documentary Who Killed Garrett Phillips? Mr. Ward has been involved in numerous wrongful conviction cases and helped to secure the largest settlement for a wrongful conviction case in New York City.

Mr. Ward is the Chair of the Board of Housing Works, Bronx Defenders, and Esperanza. He also serves on the board of the Center for Appellate Litigation and is a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. Mr. Ward served as a member of the New York State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights from 2013 to 2020 and from 1997 to 2003 he served as a Commissioner on the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Mr. Ward was recently honored by New York University School of Law with its Public Interest Pro Bono Award and he has been recognized numerous times by New York Metro Super Lawyers for his criminal defense work.

Ilann M. Maazel joined the firm in 1998 and became a partner in 2004. Mr. Maazel is nationally recognized for helping the most vulnerable: children, people with disabilities, disenfranchised voters, and victims of sexual abuse and harassment, police abuseprison abuse, wrongful convictions, and all forms of discrimination. Mr. Maazel helped save the High Line, led the 2016 presidential recount effort in Pennsylvania, and has brought class actions to end the tampon tax, end delays in Bronx Criminal Court, provide services to disabled preschool children, reduce violence in New York City prisons, and defend millions of Americans surveilled by the National Security Agency. As a commercial litigator, Mr. Maazel defeated Donald Trump and has represented Martha Stewart, the Apollo TheaterEverytown for Gun Safety, the NAACPNewegg, the Children’s Aid SocietyThe New York Foundling, and the New York City Council.

Mr. Maazel is a nine-time “Super Lawyer,” Legal Services Pro Bono Leader, Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Publico award winner, Coro Leadership fellow, Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, and recipient of an Echoing Green Public Service Fellowship.

Mr. Maazel blogs for www.law.com, writes the civil rights litigation column for the New York Law Journal, and has been published in USA TODAY, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and the National Law Journal.

ECBAWM, U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Civil Rights “Law Firm of the Year,” is one of the leading boutique litigation firms in the country. Founded in 1996, ECBAWM has litigated many of the most important cases of the last two decades, helping to save the High Line, end Rikers Island, put Senator John McCain on the presidential ballot, lead the sex abuse lawsuit against The Ohio State University, wipe out over $1 billion in fraudulent consumer debt, get some justice for the family of Tamir Rice, and pursue nationwide fraud claims against Donald J. Trump and members of his family. ECBAWM is a leader in the fight against employment and housing discrimination, police and prison brutality, disability abuse, school bullying, voter suppression, consumer fraud, wrongful convictions, and sexual harassment and abuse.

ECBAWM also has a substantial criminal defense and attorney ethics practice, and is a leading commercial litigation firm, successfully conducting mediations, arbitrations, trials, and appeals in federal and state courts, involving a wide array of substantial disputes ranging from breach of contract to defamation, fraud to copyright infringement, and business torts to restrictive covenants.

“Earl Ward and Ilann Maazel are exceptional lawyers and exceptional human beings. Individually and together, they represent decades of accomplishment and a relentless commitment to justice. Their spirit is part of our firm’s DNA. It is privilege, and a thrill, to add their names to the firm’s,” said Andrew G. Celli, Jr., a founding partner of the firm.

“This is a truly special recognition and one that would have made my immigrant Jamaican parents extremely proud,” said Mr. Ward.

“Our firm has extraordinary talent, passion, and a commitment to justice,” said Mr. Maazel. “It is an honor and a privilege to be a name partner in this special firm.”

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Family of Jamel Floyd Holds Funeral Today, and Calls for Justice, One Month After His Untimely Death in Brooklyn Federal Prison

On June 3, 2020, Jamel Floyd’s life was tragically cut short while he was a prisoner in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He was only 35 years old.

Mr. Floyd had been looking forward to release from prison in just a few months, and to the start of a whole new chapter in his life.

Mr. Floyd died after Federal Bureau of Prisons correction officers pepper-sprayed him while he was locked in his prison cell, and then subjected him to excessive force while removing him from his cell. Witnesses report that officers blasted so much pepper spray into Mr. Floyd’s cell that the entire unit was impacted, with other people having to place wet towels under their own cell doors so they could breathe. After Mr. Floyd lost consciousness, officers strapped his unresponsive body to a restraint chair and removed him from MDC’s special housing unit.

Mr. Floyd was never seen alive again.

Today, Mr. Floyd’s family and friends—his mother, father, brother, fiancé, and extended family—are gathering for his funeral in Hempstead, New York, where they will commemorate his life. Before June 3rd, they were eagerly planning for Mr. Floyd’s parole appearance and possible release from prison in the fall.

Mr. Floyd’s brother, Ramel Floyd, was hoping to start a new moving truck business with his brother later this year. Just days before Jamel Floyd’s death, Ramel spoke with his brother about their plans. “Jamel was super intelligent, he was a jailhouse lawyer and was also studying while he was in prison to get the licenses he needed for our new business,” Ramel says. “Everything was lining up for the next part of my brother’s life—he was so close to getting out and then they took him away from us.”

Mr. Floyd’s mother, Donna Mays, was counting down the weeks until Mr. Floyd’s parole date. Ms. Mays could not wait to see Mr. Floyd reunited with his entire family in Hempstead later this year. “I am getting married soon and Jamel was supposed to walk me down the aisle,” Ms. Mays says. “Now, because of what they did to my son, I am planning his funeral instead.”

The MDC and Federal Bureau of Prisons must respond to calls for justice in the wake of Jamel Floyd’s untimely death, from his family, elected officials, and the millions of people who have taken to the streets to protest the deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. The BOP must act swiftly to release Mr. Floyd’s medical and institutional records to his family without further delay, including the video taken of the use of force against him, and allow a prompt and impartial investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death.

“The violent and senseless death of Jamel Floyd, yet another young Black man who died in the custody of law enforcement—this time in a federal jail facility—is disturbing,” said Katherine Rosenfeld, one of the Floyd and Mays family’s attorneys. “This heartbroken family deserves truthful answers about what happened to Jamel Floyd.”

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez stated: “Time and again, MDC has exhibited lack of accountability and allowed conditions that endanger the lives of those detained there. The recent death of Jamel Floyd fits this pattern and initial review suggests it could have been prevented. I will continue pressing the Department of Justice for answers and work to hold MDC accountable. We need a complete and swift investigation.”

Congressman Jerry Nadler described initial reports of Mr. Floyd’s death as “horrifying” and immediately called for a Congressional investigation of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Jabari Brisport, candidate for New York State Senate District 25, which includes MDC, stated: “Jamel should still be with us today, but the people responsible for his caretaking gave him an unlawful death sentence at MDC. As a person suffering from asthma, he managed to avoid COVID-19, only to be tragically murdered by correction officers using pepper spray. I stand in solidarity with the Floyd family, and would like to amplify their calls for the release of medical records, and for a prompt investigation into his death.”

Mr. Floyd’s family wishes to express their gratitude to the thousands of people who have supported their campaign for #JusticeforJamel, attended the vigils outside the MDC, and contributed to Jamel’s funeral expenses. They also thank the many people confined in the MDC who have come forward to tell the truth about what happened to Jamel.

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USA Today Publishes Police Reform Article by ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel

In “Seize the moment: 9 ways to curb police brutality and honor the memory of George Floyd,” ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel writes, “If we translate protests into policy and passion into action, we will honor the memory of George Floyd and begin to address this national problem. If we fail, the next George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Kenneth Banks is just around the corner.” You can read the full article in USA Today.

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ECBAWM Represents Jamel Floyd’s Family in Investigation Into Mr. Floyd’s Senseless Death at the MDC

ECBAWM is representing Donna Mays, the mother of Jamel Floyd, and their family, in an investigation into the tragic, untimely death of Mr. Floyd, who died on June 3, 2020 while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”) in Brooklyn, a prison operated by the United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”).  Mr. Floyd, a 35-year old Black man, was eligible for parole in only three months, and had planned to rejoin his family in Hempstead, Long Island.  According to initial reports, on June 3, Mr. Floyd—who was asthmatic—was pepper sprayed by correction officers while he was locked in his cell, subjected to force, placed in restraints, and removed from his cell, at which point he was found to be unresponsive.  He was then taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  The DOJ and FBI are both investigating Mr. Floyd’s death.

Mr. Floyd’s family has led the call for justice and accountability at protests outside the MDC, demanding answers about the violence and force that caused Jamel’s death.  Mr. Floyd’s death has sparked outrage throughout New York City and beyond as millions of individuals continue to protest the deaths of African American people resulting excessive force at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Read coverage of Mr. Floyd’s death in the New York Times, New York Daily News, and Newsweek.

Information regarding ECBAWM’s current class action litigation challenging conditions of confinement at MDC can be found here.

ECBAWM Attorneys Katherine Rosenfeld, Earl S. Ward, and Nick Bourland represent Ms. Mays and the family of Jamel Floyd.

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