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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Published in City & State: The Adult Survivors Act Is Needed Legislation

In an opinion piece published in City & State, ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman draws on her experience representing sexual assault survivors to explain why the proposed Adult Survivors Act should become law. Under current New York law, the time to file a civil case for a sexual assault that happened before 2019 is usually very short.

Based on the previously enacted Child Victims Act, the Adult Survivors Act would create a new “lookback window” so that survivors whose sexual assault occurred prior to 2019 would be allowed a one-year window to revive any civil lawsuits that would otherwise be barred under the statute of limitations.

“The Adult Survivors Act passed the state Senate unanimously last spring but for unclear reasons failed to advance in the Assembly,” writes Salzman. “With a new governor at the helm and a new legislative session that began this month, New York’s leaders have another chance to pass this important law.”

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ECBAWM Defeats Detroit Police Officers’ Attempt to Avoid Trial in Wrongful Conviction Case

In a December 28, 2021 decision, United States District Judge Paul D. Borman rejected a motion for summary judgment filed by four Detroit Police Department (“DPD”) officers seeking to drastically narrow the scope of a lawsuit brought by Kendrick Scott, an innocent man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent nearly two decades in prison as a result of the DPD officers’ egregious misconduct.

The Court ruled that Mr. Scott’s case will proceed against all four DPD officers and held that each of Mr. Scott’s federal civil rights claims must be decided at a jury trial. Specifically, the Court found that, in light of the evidence presented by ECBAWM, a jury must decide whether the DPD officers violated Mr. Scott’s constitutional rights by suppressing exculpatory evidence and forcing witnesses to testify falsely.

“Mr. Scott endured almost 20 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. We look forward to showing all the evidence of this injustice to the jury at trial,” said ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman.

“The Court’s decision makes clear that police officers who threaten witnesses and suppress exculpatory evidence—and do so without any regard for the rights and liberty of an innocent man—cannot escape liability on a technicality,” said ECBAWM attorney Nick Bourland. “Mr. Scott deserves to present his case to a jury and this victory guarantees that he will have his day in court.”

ECBAWM attorneys Zoe Salzman and Nick Bourland represent Mr. Scott.

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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.

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Nine ECBAWM Partners Named to Lawdragon’s “500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers” List

ECBAWM is pleased to announce that nine firm partners have been named to the “2021 Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers” list. The list was created “through nominations and independent journalistic research vetted by peers and adversaries,” legal media company Lawdragon explained on its website.

Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Earl S. Ward, Ilann Margalit Maazel, O. Andrew F. Wilson, Katherine Rosenfeld, Debra L. Greenberger, Zoe Salzman, and Sam Shapiro were each recognized as attorneys “who’ve devoted their careers to helping workers protect their rights.”

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Class Action Lawsuit Against Aetna Filed by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel and NWLC Alleges LGBTQ Discrimination

The suit alleges that Aetna’s fertility treatment reimbursement policy discriminates against LGBTQ individuals

ECBAWM and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) have filed a class action lawsuit against Aetna alleging discriminatory practices against LGBTQ policy-holders seeking fertility treatments. Emma Goidel, the plaintiff in the suit, and her spouse seek to end this discriminatory policy and to recoup a portion of the out-of-pocket costs they have incurred while undergoing IVF and IUI fertility treatments.

The suit alleges that Aetna’s policy for coverage of IVF and IUI fertility treatments unfairly discriminates against LGBTQ couples by requiring them to pay out of pocket for 12 cycles of IUI before Aetna will provide them with coverage. However, Aetna’s policy provides immediate coverage, without any out-of-pocket cost, to heterosexual couples who have not gotten pregnant after having unprotected sex for 12 months.

“Aetna’s policy is effectively a tax on LGBTQ policy-holders,” said Noel León, an ECBAWM attorney representing Ms. Goidel. “It prevents LGBTQ individuals who are unable to shoulder the considerable cost of fertility treatments — disproportionately those of color — from becoming pregnant and thus denies their equal rights to start families.”

Ms. Goidel and her spouse are enrolled in Aetna’s Student Health Plan for Columbia University, which provides broad coverage for IUI and IVF for heterosexual couples. As a result of Aetna’s policy, however, they have been forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars for fertility treatment. They estimate that they paid nearly $45,000 for one successful pregnancy. The plaintiff is suing on behalf of herself and other LGBTQ individuals to end this discriminatory policy enforced by Aetna.

“It is everyone’s right to create a family, and to try to biologically bear their own children if they so choose,” said Ms. Goidel. “Health insurance must protect that right by covering medical costs equally for those who need fertility treatment to reproduce—not discriminating against queer people.”

“Your insurance company should never be the reason you are denied the chance to start a family,” said Michelle Banker, Director of Reproductive Rights and Health Litigation at NWLC, who is representing the plaintiff. “Emma was forced to pay significantly more and prevented from equal access to care, simply because she is queer. Aetna must change its illegal policy immediately — for patients like Emma, and especially for those who cannot afford this care. Discrimination should have no place in health care and we will make sure insurance companies like Aetna are held accountable.”

Individuals whose insurance policies unfairly discriminate against LGBTQ individuals or couples seeking fertility treatments can provide the attorneys with more information in three ways: by phone at (202) 956-3077, by email to LGBTQFertilityLawsuit@nwlc.org, or by filling out this Google form: https://bit.ly/LGBTQFertilityLawsuit.

Plaintiffs are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Noel León and Zoe Salzman and NWLC attorneys Michelle Banker, Sunu Chandy, Lauren Gorodetsky, and Alison Tanner.

Press
“Aetna Accused of Denying Coverage of Fertility Treatments for LGBTQ+ Policyholders,”  NewYork Law Journal
“Aetna sued over fertility treatment coverage for LGBTQ+ people,” Reuters
“Aetna hit with lawsuit alleging discrimination against LGBTQ patients,” Modern Healthcare

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Quoted in Law360 Article About Mandatory Arbitration in Bias Claims

ECBAWM partner and civil rights litigator Zoe Salzman was quoted in the Law360 article “New York’s Ban on Bias Claim Arbitration Drubbed in Court,” which explores Section 7515, the provision of New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) that prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses “except where inconsistent with federal law.”

Victims of discrimination and sexual harassment have cited CPLR § 7515 as the basis for voiding mandatory arbitration agreements. However, as the Law360 article points out, courts have largely refused to void mandatory arbitration agreements on the grounds that CPLR § 7515 is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).

Salzman points out that the FAA was passed in 1925, when the concepts of discrimination and sexual harassment “simply didn’t exist.” It was rooted in the exercise of Commerce Clause powers and crafted as a means to efficiently address business and contract disputes. “The idea that it would apply to fundamental human rights issues was never contemplated,” said Salzman.

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Featured in “Above the Law” Article About Remote Litigation

Litigator and ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman explains the opportunities and challenges in litigating cases remotely in the Above the Law article “How Courts and Litigators Are Making the Best of Remote Practice.” Salzman, who recently chaired the program “Current Trial Issues in Federal Civil Practice” for the Practising Law Institute, expressed hope that the benefits of remote litigation – like reduced travel time and fewer delays – will continue beyond the pandemic. “[This way] judges don’t waste time waiting for lawyers to show up, the lawyers can be there at the right time and only devote the time for the actual proceeding,” Salzman said. “The system works well and it’s good for clients.”

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New York Times Publishes Letter from ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman: “Holding Rapists Accountable”

In a letter published on July 23 by The New York Times, ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman provides additional insight into the reasons sexual assaults are frequently underreported to the police and the vital role civil lawsuits often play in providing justice for survivors.

“[Going to the police] brings up all the burdens of re-traumatization and re-victimization, with very little promise of conviction,” writes Salzman. “That means that until our criminal justice system is seriously overhauled, a civil lawsuit is often the only viable option survivors have to hold those who raped them accountable.”

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ECBAWM Sponsors of NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights

ECBAWM is pleased to announce that the firm will sponsor NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights (“Bernstein Institute”), reflecting ECBAWM’s historical commitment to defending human and civil rights and ensuring the integrity of judicial and governmental systems. “The objectives and approach of the Bernstein Institute closely align with ours,” said ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman, who was recently named to the Institute’s Board of Advisers. “Our sponsorship is an opportunity to further the goals we’re all working toward together.”

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Named to Board of Advisers for NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights

ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman has been named as a Member of the Board of Advisers of NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights (“Bernstein Institute”). The Bernstein Institute engages in innovative research, education and advocacy to support projects around the world. Its work is focused in two major areas: encouraging and defending dissent, and legal empowerment so that the law is accessible to everyone. Its programs include the Jailhouse Lawyers’ Initiative, which advocates for the legal empowerment of current and former jailhouse lawyers and law clerks – a process central to ending the cycle of incarceration and enabling communities to obtain freedom from the inside out. As part of its holistic approach, the Bernstein Institute engages with law students, academics, interdisciplinary allies, and, most importantly, the communities that are affected by human rights violations.

The Bernstein Institute is named for Robert L. Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, and his wife Helen. Bernstein served as the Chair of Human Rights Watch from 1978-1998 and as the Founding Chair Emeritus from 1999 until his death in 2019.

Salzman will join other leaders in law, government, foreign policy, and business in providing strategic guidance to the Bernstein Institute. An experienced trial attorney, Salzman has spearheaded groundbreaking civil rights cases including a class action that ended the Tampon Tax in New York and a landmark victory in the First Department Appellate Division 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.

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