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Haggis Abandons Case Against Haleigh Breest

Late yesterday, director Paul Haggis abandoned his lawsuit against Haleigh Breest. A lower court dismissed Haggis’ case on August 14, 2018, and Haggis quietly dropped his appeal yesterday.

Though the Haggis case against Ms. Breest is over, Ms. Breest’s sexual assault case against Mr. Haggis continues.

“Paul Haggis Abandons His Own Appeal Against Rape Claims By Publicist; Going Broke,” Deadline
“Paul Haggis abandons defamation suit against rape accuser,” PageSix
“Paul Haggis Drops Appeal In Case Against Sexual Assault Allegations,” ET Canada

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Ten ECBAWM Attorneys Named as Super Lawyers; Two Named as Rising Stars

ECBAWM is proud to announce that partners Richard Emery, Andrew Celli, Matthew Brinckerhoff, Jonathan Abady, Ilann Maazel, Earl Ward, Hal Lieberman, Dan Kornstein, Andrew Wilson, and Elizabeth Saylor were named as Super Lawyers for 2018. Partners Zoe Salzman and Sam Shapiro were named as Rising Stars. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found here.

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ECBAWM Clients File $380 Million Suit Against Sotheby’s

ECBAWM clients, two trusts named Accent Delight International Ltd. and Xitrans Finance Ltd., filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest and most famous auction houses. The Complaint alleges that Sotheby’s helped Yves Bouvier facilitate the largest art fraud in history. As detailed in the New Yorker, Bouvier is alleged to have defrauded the two plaintiff trusts of approximately $1 billion. The new suit alleges that Sotheby’s played a key role in aiding Mr. Bouvier’s scheme by providing valuations and other support for fraudulent transactions. ECBAWM attorneys Daniel J. Kornstein, O. Andrew F. Wilson, Zoe Salzman, and Doug Lieb represent the plaintiffs.

“Billionaire Rybolovlev Slaps Sotheby’s with $380 Million Lawsuit,” Bloomberg
“Russian billionaire claims Sotheby’s conned him out of $1B,” New York Post

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Named one of City & State’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars

ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman was named as one of City & State‘s 2018 40 Under 40 Rising Stars.

Each year, City & State identifies 40 members of the next generation – all under the age of 40 – who are already leaders in elected office and in state offices, in labor and in business, in advocacy and in academia, in government affairs and in journalism.

Ms. Salzman told City & State the “diverse docket” she has at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel “is ideal for her skill set.” “It keeps you sharp,” she says. “It’s thinking really creatively about legal problems.”

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ECBAWM Wins Landmark Ruling in Rape and Gender Motivated Violence Case

ECBAWM won a landmark ruling allowing a case for rape to proceed under New York City’s Victims of Gender Motivated Violence Protection Act. Justice Robert R. Reed denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, holding that the complaint properly alleged all the elements of the claim.

The New York City Council passed the Act in 2000 to create a private right of action for victims of “gender-motivated crimes of violence” like sexual assault and rape to sue their abusers in civil court. The Act also extends the statute of limitations to bring such cases to seven years. Justice Reed’s ruling gives real meaning to the City’s Act and makes it a powerful and much-needed tool for victims of sexual misconduct to seek justice in the courts.

The case is Breest v. Haggis, No. 161137/2017 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). ECBAWM attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, and Zoe Salzman represent the plaintiff.

“Publicist Accusing Paul Haggis of Sexual Assault Pursuing Claims With Rarely Used NYC Local Law,” Law.com
“Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis’ attempt to sue his alleged rape victim for ‘intentional infliction of emotional distress’ is thrown out by a New York judge,” The Daily Mail
“Paul Haggis Must Face Rape Lawsuit in New York,” The Hollywood Reporter
“Paul Haggis must face civil rape suit: judge,” New York Post

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ECBAWM’s Work Prompts Plan to Make Cooper Union Free Again

The Cooper Union has just announced a plan designed to return to free tuition. This plan was the result of a lawsuit filed by ECBAWM on behalf of the Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), which challenged the school’s decision to charge tuition for the first time in its history.

CSCU is a coalition of current and prospective students, alumni, and faculty. The case argued that the school’s decision to charge tuition violated the terms of the trust established by Peter Cooper.  As a result of the CSCU lawsuit, the Attorney General of the State of New York launched a confidential investigation into Cooper Union. The settlement reached between CSCU, the school, and the Attorney General imposed an independent financial monitor; established a Board committee made up of alumni, students, and faculty to develop a plan for the return to free tuition; required the school’s leadership to make a good faith effort to return to free; and expanded the presence of alumni, students, and faculty on the Board of Trustees. The recent plan announced by the school is the result of this settlement agreement.

CSCU was represented by ECBAWM attorneys Richard D. Emery, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Zoe Salzman.

“Cooper Union Announces Plan to Reinstate Free Tuition,” New York Times
“Cooper Union Says It Will Again Offer Students Free Tuition,” Crain’s

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16 Years After First ECBAWM Class Action, Mayor and City Council Agree to Close Rikers Island

Sixteen years after ECBAWM filed its first class action alleging a pattern and practice of brutality and poor training, discipline, and investigations of corrections officers at Rikers Island, Mayor De Blasio and the City Council have agreed to shut down Rikers Island once and for all.  In 2001, ECBAWM filed the original lawsuit, Ingles v. Toro, with co-counsel Legal Aid Society and Sullivan & Cromwell. The case settled in 2003, but the settlement failed to reduce the use of force by corrections officers on Rikers Island. As a result, in 2011, ECBAWM filed a new class action, Nunez v. City of New York, with co-counsel Legal Aid Society and Ropes & Gray, again alleging a pattern and practice of brutality and cover-ups by corrections officers at Rikers Island. Nunez, and a parallel Department of Justice lawsuit, settled in 2015, resulting in thousands of new cameras, a federal monitor, and other sweeping reforms at Rikers. The case also brought to light the fundamental inhumanity and unfairness of the entire institution.

ECBAWM lawyers involved in the Rikers cases include Jonathan Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, Katherine Rosenfeld, Debra Greenberger, Zoe Salzman, and Vasudha Talla.

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ECBAWM Resolves Broadway Triangle Housing Discrimination Case with Landmark Settlement

A landmark settlement agreement was filed with the Court today resolving a lawsuit brought by ECBAWM’s client the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, a diverse group of more than 40 nonprofits, residents, and fair housing advocates. The Coalition filed suit eight years ago, alleging that the City’s rezoning and development plans for the Broadway Triangle area of Brooklyn were discriminatory and perpetuated segregation.

The settlement agreement provides for the development of over 375 permanently affordable apartments that will be developed in a way designed to further fair housing without discrimination.  The agreement also provides that the City will pay between $2.4 and $4.8 million to fund fair housing workshops, counseling, and educational materials, as well as legal representation for people with housing discrimination complaints in the Broadway Triangle neighborhood, which lies at the intersection of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“After years of effort, today’s settlement means the city will properly respond to the real needs of our diverse communities in North Brooklyn,” said Juan Ramos of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition. “There is a long history of housing discrimination in this area, and affordable housing in the Broadway Triangle is more important than ever given the rapid gentrification and displacement of families who have lived here for generations.”

“The affordable housing development plan, combined with fair housing services in this settlement agreement, provides a strong template for other neighborhoods across the country to use when challenging racially discriminatory housing redevelopment plans,” said ECBAWM’s Diane L. Houk.

The Coalition is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Diane L. Houk and Zoe Salzman, together with the New York Civil Liberties Union and  Brooklyn Legal Services Corp.

Press Release
Settlement Agreement
“City to Settle Discrimination Claim in Brooklyn Housing Plan,” New York Times
“City, Housing Advocates Reach Deal on Controversial Brooklyn Project,” New York Law Journal

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Quoted on Proliferation of Sexual Harassment Cases

ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman was quoted in a New York Post article on the proliferation of sexual harassment cases across different industries in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

“Women are incredibly afraid to come forward,” said Salzman. “If it’s true of Hollywood actresses like Ashley Judd and Angelina Jolie, it has to be even more true for women who don’t have the financial and personal resources that actresses have. The restaurant industry, like a lot of industries, is marked by that same power dynamic.”

Still, Salzman sees a silver lining in the Weinstein downfall: “This case is inspiring so many women, even women who are in low-income jobs [will hopefully] feel that they too can stand up and speak out,” she said. “They know now that what is happening is illegal.”

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