Article

ECBAWM Client Hoboken Defeats Big Oil Companies’ Petition in U.S. Supreme Court

On May 15, 2023, ECBAWM secured an important victory in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the City of Hoboken, New Jersey.

In September 2020, Hoboken sued 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 oil company defendants recently filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to remove Hoboken’s case from New Jersey state court to federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition. The case will now proceed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Hudson Vicinage.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision leaves in place an August 2022 decision in Hoboken’s favor by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which affirmed an earlier decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, denying the defendants’ attempt to remove the case to federal court.

ECBAWM attorneys Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Jonathan S. Abady, Vivake Prasad, and Max Selver, along with Gerald Krovatin of Krovatin Nau LLC, represent the City of Hoboken.

Press
“U.S. Supreme Court declines case, so Hoboken climate lawsuit against Big Oil to remain in state court,” NJ.com
“In Another Win for NJ, Delaware, SCOTUS Won’t Hear Arguments on Climate Change Case Jurisdiction,” The National Law Journal
“Justices Turn Away Another Climate Change Suit Forum Fight,” Law360
“Supreme Court tosses 2 more Big Oil requests,” Politico / Greenwire

Article

New York State and New York City Join ECBAWM in Defending Constitutionality of Source-of-Income Human Rights Laws

On April 26, 2023, the New York Attorney General and the New York City Law Department intervened in a case brought by ECBAWM to help defend the constitutionality of the State’s and City’s Human Rights Laws prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s source of income. ECBAWM has brought multiple cases against Parkchester Apartments, a large Bronx apartment complex with 6,000 rental units, challenging its discriminatory policies and continuing refusal to rent apartments to applicants with housing vouchers. Last year, ECBAWM won a preliminary injunction in one such case, securing housing for a previously homeless woman and her two children who had been denied a Parkchester apartment even though she had a voucher to pay the full rent. Parkchester recently asked the Court to dismiss this case, challenging the constitutionality of the source-of-income laws. ECBAWM is proud to be working with the State and City to defeat this challenge and protect voucher holders from discriminatory policies like those employed by Parkchester.

ECBAWM attorneys Diane L. Houk, Vivake Prasad, and Eric Abrams represent the plaintiffs in the complaints filed against Parkchester. Housing Works Senior Staff Attorney Armen H. Merjian is co-counsel in the case defending the constitutionality of the source of income laws.

Article

Second Circuit Rejects Qualified Immunity Challenge to Case Against DOCCS Officials

On April 4, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an important ruling in favor of firm client Michael Matzell, rejecting an attempt by New York State prison officials to claim qualified immunity from Mr. Matzell’s federal civil rights case.

Mr. Matzell filed the lawsuit in 2020 on behalf of himself and a class of individuals who were denied participation in the Shock Incarceration Program (“Shock”) while they were incarcerated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”), even though their participation was court-ordered. Mr. Matzell’s sentence included Shock, pursuant to New York State’s Drug Law Reform Act of 2009 (“DLRA”), which gave sentencing judges the authority to order Shock participation.

The Second Circuit denied the DOCCS officials’ bid to dismiss Mr. Matzell’s lawsuit. It held that DOCCS officials “exceeded and abused their governmental authority by ignoring the Court’s sentencing order and the DLRA’s plain statutory language.” It also found that “Matzell plausibly alleged that Defendants’ actions rose to the level of deliberate indifference in violation of his substantive due process rights” and that “Matzell plausibly alleged that Defendants’ actions were egregious, shocking to the conscience, and unreasonable.”

By ignoring court orders, DOCCS officials acted outside the bounds of their legal authority. They also denied Mr. Matzell and others the benefits of Shock, including early release from prison, as well as substance abuse treatment, therapy, education, and other reintegration services. DOCCS caused Mr. Matzell to serve an additional 506 days in prison that he would not have had to serve if he had been rightfully enrolled in Shock.

ECBAWM partner Debra L. Greenberger argued the case before the Second Circuit. She was joined on the brief by Katherine R. Rosenfeld and Vivake Prasad.

 

Article

19 ECBAWM Attorneys Named to 2023 Super Lawyers Lists

The firm is pleased to announce that 18 of its attorneys have been named to the 2023 Super Lawyers lists.

Firm partners Jonathan S. AbadyMatthew D. BrinckerhoffAndrew G. Celli, Jr.Richard D. EmeryDebra L. GreenbergerDaniel J. Kornstein, Julia P. Kuan, Hal R. LiebermanIlann M. MaazelZoe SalzmanSam ShapiroEarl S. Ward, and O. Andrew F. Wilson were named 2023 Super Lawyers.

Associates David BermanNick BourlandAndrew JondahlVivake Prasad, Max Selver, and Emily Wanger were named 2023 Super Lawyers Rising Stars.

The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found on the Super Lawyers website.

Article

Federal Lawsuit Over Disability Discrimination and Severe Mistreatment at Brooklyn Home for People with Disabilities Settles for $2.25 Million

The family of an autistic and disabled man has agreed to a $2.25 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit against Eihab Human Services, Inc., an operator of homes and other programs for people with disabilities. The lawsuit alleged Eihab abused, neglected, and almost killed the disabled man. The case was litigated for a decade until the settlement was reached in the middle of a nearly week-long jury trial in a New York federal court. The judge who presided over the case approved the settlement on October 13, 2022.

ECBAWM was assisted by noted jury consultant Dan Cooper in preparation for the trial.

The plaintiff, “A.W.”, the mother of “B.W.”, the young man, filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son in 2012. The complaint alleges that while under Eihab’s care, B.W. was rushed to the hospital six different times, nearly choked to death on a corncob, and had to have a feeding tube inserted after his weight sunk below 100 pounds.

“I’m so thankful we have finally been able to achieve some justice for my son,” said A.W.

“After ten long years, we have a measure of justice for B.W. and his family and accountability for Eihab,” said ECBAWM partner Ilann M. Maazel. “We are gratified that B.W. and his family finally have some closure after this terrible period in their lives.”

Article

17 ECBAWM Attorneys Named to 2022 Super Lawyers Lists

The firm is pleased to announce that 17 of its attorneys have been named to the 2022 Super Lawyers lists.

Firm partners Jonathan S. Abady, Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Richard D. Emery, Debra L. Greenberger, Daniel J. Kornstein, Hal R. Lieberman, Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman, Sam Shapiro, Earl S. Ward, and O. Andrew F. Wilson were named 2022 Super Lawyers.

Associates David Berman, Nick Bourland, Andrew Jondahl, Vivake Prasad, and Max Selver were named 2022 Super Lawyers Rising Stars.

The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found on the Super Lawyers website.

Article

19 ECBAWM Attorneys Named to 2021 Super Lawyers Lists

The firm is pleased to announce that 19 of its attorneys have been named to the 2021 Super Lawyers lists.

Firm partners Richard D. Emery, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, Ilann Margalit Maazel, Hal R. Lieberman, Daniel J. Kornstein, O. Andrew F. Wilson, Debra L. Greenberger, and Sam Shapiro were named 2021 Super Lawyers.

Firm partner Zoe Salzman and associates Emma Freeman, David Berman, Scout Katovich, Andrew Jondahl, Nick Bourland, Ananda Burra, and Vivake Prasad were named 2021 Super Lawyers Rising Stars.

The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found on the Super Lawyers website.

Article

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP Announces New Team Members

The firm is pleased to announce new members of our team: Ananda Burra, Noel León, Sonya Levitova, Julian S. Oppenheimer, Vivake Prasad, and Max Selver.

Ananda Burra graduated magna cum laude, Order of the Coif from the University of Michigan Law School in 2014, where he served as an editor on the Michigan Law Review and was awarded the William Bishop Prize for excellence in International Law. He clerked on the International Court of Justice, was a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge and the University of Virginia, and received a PhD from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the firm, Dr. Burra was an associate at Jones Day in the global disputes practice and held summer positions at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Human Rights First in Washington D.C., and at the Center for Policy Alternative in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He received his BA cum laude from Williams College.

Noel León graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2014, where she was a Toll Public Interest Fellow and Executive Articles Editor for the Penn Journal of Law and Social Change. She joins the firm after a clerkship with the Honorable Victor A. Bolden of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Previously, Ms. León was Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. She was also a Case Manager for the DC Abortion Fund. Ms. León received a BA in Psychology from Yale University in 2009.

Sonya Levitova earned her JD from the City University of New York School of Law in 2020, where she was a Graduate Fellow and served as Managing Articles Editor for the CUNY Law Review. During law school, she participated in the Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility Project, and interned with ArchCity Defenders. She also worked at the firm as a summer associate. Ms. Levitova received her BA from Yale University. She is a law clerk and the firm’s 2020 Justice Catalyst Fellow working to hold federal officials accountable for their violations of incarcerated people’s constitutional rights.

Julian S. Oppenheimer graduated in 2020 from the City University of New York School of Law, where he was a member of the Moot Court Team and a teaching assistant for the Trial Practice Seminar. He previously served as a judicial intern for the Hon. Saliann Scarpulla of the New York State Supreme Court, Commercial Division and interned with the New York Civil Liberties Union. Mr. Oppenheimer received his BA from the City College of New York, where he studied Political Science and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is currently working as a law clerk and will become an associate at the firm upon his admission to the bar.

Vivake Prasad graduated in 2015 from New York University School of Law, where he was the Senior Articles Editor for the N.Y.U. Journal of Legislation & Public Policy. During law school, he served as a student advocate in the NYU Racial Justice and NYU Global Justice Clinics, worked at the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Prasad was a litigation associate at White & Case LLP. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Prasad advised Indian Members of Parliament on legislation and policy matters with PRS Legislative Research, at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He received his BS in Policy & Management and Political Science, with University Honors, from Carnegie Mellon University.

Max Selver graduated magna cum laude, Order of the Coif from the New York University School of Law in 2016, where he was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Fellow. Before joining the firm, Mr. Selver was Litigation Fellow at Youth Represent and a Law Clerk to the Honorable Analisa Torres and James C. Francis IV in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He received his BA cum laude from Harvard College in 2011.

Article

ECBAWM Secures Landmark Settlement Between Voting Rights Advocates and Private Security Company Charged with Voter Intimidation

A federal judge has approved a sweeping settlement in a lawsuit brought by voting rights advocates against a private security contractor, Atlas Aegis, for illegal voter intimidation in Minnesota. ECBAWM’s clients, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) and the League of Women Voters of Minnesota (LWV-MN), celebrated the settlement as a major victory for democracy.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy E. Brasel approved a consent decree that resolves all remaining claims in the lawsuit. Under the consent decree, which lasts until January 1, 2025, Atlas Aegis and its Chairman and co-founder Anthony Caudle are:

  • Prohibited from deploying armed agents within 250 feet of (or otherwise monitoring) any early voting location during early voting, a polling place on election day, places where ballots are being counted, recounted, or canvassed; or where county canvassing boards or the State Canvassing Board are meeting to canvass, inspect, or declare the results of that election; or where Minnesota’s presidential electors are meeting to vote in the presidential general election.
  • Prohibited from otherwise taking any action to intimidate, threaten, or coerce voters, people aiding voters, or people engaged in tabulating, counting, or reporting votes.
  • Required to notify CAIR-MN and LWV-MN in writing 25 days before any federal election if they are supplying security personnel for any non-election-related protective services (e.g., providing security for an art exhibition or concert) where armed security personnel may be visible to the public within 250 feet of a polling place on election day.

Any violations of the consent decree will be enforceable as contempt of court.

The consent decree approved by the federal court requires the plaintiffs to state as follows:

“This matter has been resolved by agreement. The parties have agreed that Defendants shall be restricted in their actions as set forth in the terms of the attached Consent Decree. Defendants have not admitted any liability and specifically deny they have committed any statutory violation.”

Plaintiffs are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Jonathan Abady, Matthew Brinckerhoff, O. Andrew F. Wilson, Debra Greenberger, and Vivake Prasad, as well as Free Speech For People and Lathrop GPM LLP.

Article

ECBAWM Files Putative Class Action on Behalf of Inmates Denied Rehab, Early Release

ECBAWM has filed a putative class action on behalf of Michael Matzell, who was formerly incarcerated in a New York State Department of Corrections (“DOCCS”) facility, and other similarly situated individuals who were denied participation in DOCCS’ Shock Incarceration Program (“Shock”) even though their participation was court-ordered.

Shock is a six-month boot-camp style program that provides incarcerated people with substance abuse treatment, therapy, education, and other reintegration services. As part of New York State’s Drug Reform Act of 2009, sentencing judges have the authority to order participation in the Shock program. Once participation is ordered by a court, the DOCCS does not have discretion to deny participation.

Yet, that is exactly what the DOCCS did to Mr. Matzell and over 300 other incarcerated people who were entitled to participate in Shock. Rather than follow the law, DOCCS created its own program criteria that denied Mr. Matzell – and hundreds of others – entry into the program. Inexplicably, one of the criteria DOCCS cited in improperly denying Mr. Matzell participation in the program that would have provided him with substance abuse treatment is that he had received an infraction for substance abuse.

By acting outside the bounds of their legal authority, DOCCS staff denied class members of the early release they would have been entitled to upon completion of the Shock program. For Mr. Matzell, this means he was forced to serve an additional 506 days that he would not have had to serve had he been allowed to participate in Shock as ordered by the court.

ECBAWM attorneys Katie Rosenfeld, Debra Greenberger, and Vivake Prasad represent the plaintiffs.

Related Press
“N.Y. prisons ignore court orders that inmates go to rehab: suit” (New York Daily News)

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