On June 13, 2016, Judge Ostrager of the New York Supreme Court ruled that interior designer Inson Wood and his company were liable for the destruction of three marble sculptures made by famed sculptor Edwina Sandys. Ms. Sandys loaned the sculptures to Mr. Wood for display and sale at the Waterfall Mansion, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Months later, her sculptures were returned to her shattered into pieces. After Mr. Wood refused to reimburse her for the broken sculptures, Ms. Sandys sued him and others on claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence, among other charges. A trial on the other issues and other parties will be held in September.
Ms. Sandys is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Dan Kornstein and Ali Frick.
In a widely watched case, a Manhattan judge ruled on April 1, 2016, that former partners cannot be held personally liable for the remainder of the office lease of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, which had filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The landlord had sued hundreds of former partners of the law firm and its Dewey Ballantine predecessors to hold them individually liable for rent until the office lease expired in 2020 — up to $220 million. The court granted motions to dismiss the lawsuit based on the language of the lease and the criteria for personal liability of partners in a limited partnership. The decision is important for the lease obligations of law firm partners.
ECBAWM partner Dan Kornstein successfully represented 44 former Dewey Ballantine partners in the case.
ECBAWM lawyers Dan Kornstein and David Lebowitz recently won summary judgment for $195,000 plus interest for ECBAWM’s client Schlesinger & Company, LLC as plaintiff in a suit against WWP Office, LLC. The case, in Supreme Court, New York County, was for breach of a commercial real estate brokerage agreement by which our client was to receive additional commissions if the tenant exercised options to renew its lease. Defendant, which was not the original party to the brokerage agreement, argued it had not assumed the obligations to pay the commission. We submitted proof it had. The parties made cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Cynthia Kern granted our motion in full.
ECBAWM filed a federal lawsuit in New York last week on behalf of Harry Belafonte, human rights activist and music legend. In his lawsuit, Mr. Belafonte seeks the return of three historic documents given to him by the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Mr. Belafonte and Dr. King worked closely together throughout the civil rights movement and forged a deep and enduring personal friendship. The three documents given to Mr. Belafonte are an outline for Dr. King’s now-famous “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam” speech, Dr. King’s notes from another, undelivered speech to be given in Memphis, Tennessee that were found in Dr. King’s suit pocket after he was assassinated in 1968, and a condolence letter sent by President Lyndon Johnson to Mrs. King after Dr. King’s assassination.
The documents have been in the possession of Sotheby’s auction house in New York since 2008, when the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr, Inc. and Bernice King, on behalf of the estate of Coretta Scott King, asserted that Mr. Belafonte obtained the documents from a wrongfully acquired collection. No shred of evidence has been offered to support this claim.
Mr. Belafonte seeks to put an end to the current situation in which the Estate and Bernice King have prevented him from recovering the documents. Mr. Belafonte is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., and Vasudha Talla, and Prof. Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.
“Belafonte Sues Heirs of Martin Luther King Jr.,” New York Times
In a comprehensive decision granting summary judgment, United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco dismissed all federal claims against Newsday, its former publisher Timothy Knight, former editor John Mancini, current reporter Mark Harrington, and others, and declined to assert pendant jurisdiction over the remaining state claims. The complaint had alleged that plaintiff Anthony Conte’s nascent businesses, TV Time and TV Week, overseen by his company I Media, were destroyed by a vast conspiracy that purportedly included the defendants and an array of law enforcement officials who Mr. Conte has sued in a related case also brought in the Eastern District. Newsday, its executives, and its reporter are represented by ECBAWM partners Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and O. Andrew F. Wilson.