ECBAWM Wins Second Circuit Appeal Related to $2.25 Million Settlement in Tragic Death of Heather Roselli in State Care

  • December 6, 2023

On December 6, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an important ruling in favor of ECBAWM client Holly Parks, in a case seeking accountability and damages for the death of her daughter, Heather Roselli, at the hands of employees of the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

On June 18, 2017, while in state care at a residential facility for people with disabilities, Heather was brutalized, held down, and fatally suffocated by state aides, two of whom pled guilty to criminal charges in connection with her death.  Ms. Parks, the administrator of Heather’s estate, brought cases against the State of New York in the Court of Claims, and against five individuals — the three workers who killed her, and two supervisors whose deliberate indifference led to her death — in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York.

After litigating the case for multiple years, Ms. Parks accepted a Rule 68 offer for $2.25 million to settle the case pending in the Western District of New York.  Crucially, Ms. Parks did not agree to forego pursuing the attorneys’ fees and costs expended over the many years that she sought accountability through this lawsuit, nor did it require Ms. Parks to abandon her lawsuit against the State of New York in the Court of Claims.   The District Court agreed with our position on the latter, but disagreed on the former, initially precluding her from seeking attorneys’ fees and costs.  Today, the Second Circuit agreed with us on both counts, allowing our clients to seek that additional compensation and to pursue her case in the Court of Claims.  While no amount of money can make up for the loss of her daughter, and for the pain and suffering Heather felt in the last hours of her life, Ms. Parks was intent on doing everything possible to honor her daughter’s memory.

The Second Circuit’s opinion allows our clients to continue to pursue and secure justice in Heather’s memory.  Ms. Parks and Heather’s estate are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Ilann Maazel, and Eric Abrams.