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ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel’s Analysis of Recent NYS Police Reform Legislative Actions Published by the New York Law Journal

In his most recent column for the New York Law Journal, ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel analyzes recent actions taken by the New York State legislature in the wake of protests against police brutality and a growing awareness of systemic racism. Evaluating the potential impacts of the repeal of Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law (shielding police disciplinary records from disclosure), the “chokehold ban,” the new right to record the police in public, the “Amy Cooper” law creating civil liability for the summoning of police in certain circumstances, and other actions, Maazel writes, “The New York State legislature has taken (mostly) positive action. But there is still much work to do.”

You can read the full article here.

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Sports Illustrated Article Highlights Need for Justice in Ohio State University Sex Abuse Scandal

The October 5 Sports Illustrated cover article “Why Aren’t More People Talking About the Ohio State Sex Abuse Scandal?” describes the horrific abuse some of ECBAWM’s 93 clients suffered at The Ohio State University. This is one of the biggest sex abuse scandals in the history of American education. Author Jon Wertheim presents a well-researched, in-depth story of OSU’s 40-year betrayal of its own students.

If you have been affected by the sexual abuse at Ohio State, please call us at 212-763-5042, email ohiosurvivors@ecbawm.com, or use this form.

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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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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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Statement of Counsel for the Former Bloomberg Staffers Who Filed a Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Today Against Mike Bloomberg 2020

“Today our clients, three former field organizers for Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign who worked in Georgia, Utah, and Washington state, filed a nationwide class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the campaign broke its promise to provide its field staffers the opportunity to work on the general election campaign for Mike Bloomberg 2020. The complaint speaks for itself. Although our clients would like to speak publicly about their experiences, they are potentially subject to a confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with Mike Bloomberg 2020. We respectfully request that the Bloomberg campaign release our clients and the other field staffers from that agreement, even though it may not be enforceable.”

The field staffers who filed the suit, Alexis Sklair, Nathaniel Brown, and Sterling Rettke, are represented by Peter Romer-Friedman of Gupta Wessler PLLC, and Ilann M. Maazel and David Berman of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP.

To learn more, visit our website here.

Read coverage by The New York Times, Politico, Huffington Post, and Axios.

Contacts:

Peter Romer-Friedman, Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC
peter@guptawessler.com

Ilann M. Maazel, Partner, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP
imaazel@ecbawm.com

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Family of Young Disabled Man Who Died in New York State Group Home Brings Federal Civil Rights Suit

This morning, the family of C.B., a young man with cognitive disabilities who passed away in April 2018, filed a civil rights lawsuit against employees of a group home run by New York’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (“OPWDD”). C.B. was found dead in his room at the Valley Ridge Center for Intensive Treatment on the morning of April 9, 2018, after Ashley Sessions, a Valley Ridge employee, failed to check in on him during the night as required.

C.B. died from pulmonary embolism and heart failure. The day before his death, C.B. and his mother told State employees he couldn’t breathe. The State ignored him. C.B.’s arms and legs were massively swollen with fluid; he gained 50 pounds in a single year; he exhibited the telltale signs of heart failure. But Staff not only did nothing to help him; they repeatedly encouraged him to drink more fluids, contributing to his death.

Even as Sessions failed to check on C.B. as required during the night of his death, C.B. asphyxiated on fluids in his lungs. Sessions then lied to the police to try to cover up her misconduct. She ultimately plead guilty to the crime of filing false statements.

C.B.’s mother, J.M., federal filed a lawsuit alleging that Valley Ridge employees were deliberately indifferent to C.B.’s health and welfare and that the little medical care they did provide was woefully deficient.

“C.B.’s tragic death should never have happened,” C.B.’s family’s attorney, Ilann M. Maazel, of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel said. “State employees ignored the obvious signs that a disabled man’s health was rapidly deteriorating, then left him alone to die a horrible death in his bedroom. It’s unconscionable.”

“C.B.’s dire condition was plain to see,” added Samuel Shapiro, another attorney representing the family, “but the staff here just didn’t care enough to look.”

Read the complaint here.

ECBAWM’s Ilann M. Maazel, Samuel Shapiro, and Ali Frick represent C.B.’s family.

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Paul Haggis Loses Appeal on Gender Motivated Violence Protection Law

The New York Appellate Division, First Department ruled on December 26, 2019 that rape and sexual assault are necessarily motivated at least in part by animus towards the victim’s gender, and therefore prohibited by the New York City Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law.

The case is Breest v. Haggis, one of the few cases of the MeToo era that is being litigated in civil court. Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP represents Haleigh Breest, who alleges that Hollywood director Paul Haggis raped and assaulted her after a film premiere in 2013. The First Department affirmed the lower court’s decision denying Haggis’s motion to dismiss the case. In so doing, the Court rejected Haggis’s argument that, in order to plead a claim, the plaintiff had to allege that he had expressed hatred towards all women. In the first appellate ruling to ever address this important law, the Court made it clear that it did not agree with other lower court decisions that created “insuperable barriers” for sexual assault victims to plead their claims and seek justice.

The Court held that: “Rape and sexual assault are, by definition, actions taken against the victim without the victim’s consent. Without consent, sexual acts such as those alleged in the complaint are a violation of the victim’s bodily autonomy and an expression of the perpetrator’s contempt for that autonomy. Coerced sexual activity is dehumanizing and fear-inducing. Malice or ill will based on gender is apparent from the alleged commission of the act itself. Animus inheres where consent is absent.”

“This is a historic ruling that breathes new life into the New York City law against gender motivated violence,” said ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman. “This decision paves the way for a jury to hold Paul Haggis accountable at trial.”

ECBAWM attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman, and Emma Freeman represent Haleigh Breest.

Read the First Department’s decision here.

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NBC News features OSU survivor Stephen Snyder-Hill

OSU survivor Stephen Snyder-Hill was profiled by NBC News. Snyder-Hill, a prominent LGBTQ activist and a military veteran, is now advocating for sexual assault survivors in a case against The Ohio State University. The federal lawsuit alleges rape, assault and molestation by former OSU team doctor Richard Strauss over the course of decades. The complaint to Snyder-Hill., et al. v. The Ohio State University, 18-CV-00736, is available here.

“It’s about all the sexual assault survivors that are out there that might not have a voice,” Synder-Hill said to NBC News. “This is our fight, not just my fight.”

Snyder-Hill and over 80 other survivors are represented by Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Marissa Benavides of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, Scott E. Smith of Scott Elliot Smith LPA, and Adele Kimmel and Alexandra Brodsky of Public Justice. More on the case is available at www.osusurvivors.com.

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