Matthew D. Brinckerhoff | Partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP

Matthew D. Brinckerhoff

Matthew D. Brinckerhoff is a founding partner of the firm. Mr. Brinckerhoff has a general, commercial, and civil rights litigation practice, with a focus on complex cases.

Mr. Brinckerhoff has substantial experience in class action and multi-party litigation. He has successfully represented a class of defrauded consumers, which settled for $60 million; 60,000 people who were arrested for minor violations and then illegally strip-searched, which settled for $50 million; and he currently represents a class of inmates who were illegally subjected to post release supervision by the Department of Corrections.


Mr. Brinckerhoff has represented a diverse group of clients over the years, including a group of property owners resisting the confiscation of their homes and business for the enrichment of a politically influential private real estate developer; Patty Duke, the academy award winning actress; the Marijuana Policy Project, a not-for-profit corporation devoted to reforming marijuana laws; Housing Works, a not-for-profit corporation that provides supportive services and advocacy for homeless people living with HIV and AIDS; Sandra Marsh, the former NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Equal Employment Opportunity; the East Timor Action Network, a human rights organization; and countless individuals who have been victims of government abuse.

For the past 25 years, Mr. Brinckerhoff has litigated cases in state and federal court at the trial and appellate level. He has argued countless appeals in both state and federal courts.

Mr. Brinckerhoff began his legal career clerking for Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York. From 1992 to 1995, Mr. Brinckerhoff worked for South Brooklyn Legal Services, prosecuting government reform class actions and providing direct client representation to persons unable to afford legal counsel.

Mr. Brinckerhoff has been named a “Super Lawyer” since 2014.

Representative Cases:

  • Obtained a $60 million settlement and extensive injunctive relief for a putative class consisting of tens of thousands of victims of a scheme to fraudulently obtain default judgments. Sykes v. Mel S. Harris and Assocs., LLC, No. 09 Civ. 8486 (S.D.N.Y.).
  • Obtained $50 million settlement for class of over 60,000 people who were arrested for minor violations and strip-searched in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights in Tyson v. City of New York, No. 97 Civ. 3762 (S.D.N.Y.).
  • Obtained a $15 million settlement for a class of approximately 22,000 New Yorkers who were illegally charged by the New York City Police Department under unconstitutional and void “loitering” statutes between 1983 and 2012. Casale v. Kelly, 257 F.R.D. 396 (S.D.N.Y. 2009).
  • Represented a certified class of all persons arrested and prosecuted for loitering for the purpose of begging against defendant class of all law enforcement agencies in the State of New York, notwithstanding ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declaring the statute unconstitutional in 1993. Brown v. Kelly, 244 F.R.D. 222 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).
  • Represented group of property owners resisting government’s attempt to confiscate their homes and businesses for transfer to a private real estate developer in violation of the Constitution of the United States and the State of New York. Goldstein v. Pataki, 2007 WL 1695573 (E.D.N.Y. 2007), rev’d, 488 F.Supp.2d 254 (E.D.N.Y. 2007), aff’d, 516 F.3d 50 (2d Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 2964 (2008) (“Justice Alito would grant the petition for writ of certiorari”), refiled as, Goldstein v. N.Y. Urban Dev. Corp., 879 N.Y.S.2d 524 (2d Dep’t 2009), aff’d, 2009 WL 4030939 (Nov. 24, 2009).
  • Serves as counsel in five different class actions, composed of hundreds of tenants in apartments that were unlawfully deregulated despite receipt of tax benefits that precluded deregulation. Dugan v. London Terrace Gardens, No. 603468/09 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County); Gerard v. Clermont York Assocs. LLC, No. 101150/10 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County); Downing v. First Lenox Terrace Assocs., et al., No. 100725/10  (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County); Massey v. 461 Central Park West Co. LLC, No. 602077/09 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County); Casey v. Whitehouse Estates, Inc., No. 111723/11 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County).


  • Currently represents a certified class of all persons subjected to administratively imposed sentences of post-release supervision by the New York State Department of Correctional Services. Betances v. Fischer2015 WL 4692441 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 6, 2015); Betances v. Fischer, 304 F.R.D. 416 (S.D.N.Y. 2015); Vincent v. Yelich, 718 F.3d 157 (2d Cir. 2013); Bentley v. Dennison, 852 F. Supp. 2d 379 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).


  • Successfully settled breach of contract action on behalf of Patty Duke after prevailing on theater producer’s motion for summary judgment. Pearce v. Manhattan Ensemble Theater, Inc., 2009 WL 3152127 (S.D.N.Y. 2009).
  • In two different cases, represented hundreds of pharmaceutical sales representatives employed by large pharmaceutical companies in wage and hour disputes under the Fair Labor Standards Act and California wage and hour laws. Coultrip v. Pfizer, No. 06 Civ. 9952 (S.D.N.Y.); D’Este v. Bayer Corp., 565 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2009).


  • Currently represent nationwide class challenging, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment, the United States Government’s program of systematically intercepting and analyzing every electronic communication in the United States. In re Nat’l Sec. Agency Telecomm. Records Litig., MDL Dkt. No. 06-1791-VRW (Shubert v. Bush, No. 07-CV-693) (N.D. Cal.).


  • Currently represent certified class of victims of unlawful policy of strip searching all pretrial detainees charged with non-felony offenses and held in the Nassau County Jail. In re Nassau County Strip Search Cases, 461 F.3d 219 (2d Cir. 2006), aff’d, 2016 WL 761306 (2d Cir. Feb. 26, 2016).


  • Obtained federal injunction and order declaring that county-based signature distribution requirement for obtaining access to the ballot for state-wide voter initiatives violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Marijuana Policy Project v. Miller, 578 F. Supp. 2d 1290 (D. Nev. 2008).


  • Currently represent certified class of all persons arrested and prosecuted for loitering for the purpose of begging against defendant class of all law enforcement agencies in the State of New York, notwithstanding ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declaring the statute unconstitutional in 1993. Brown v. Kelly, 244 F.R.D. 222 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).


  • Obtained $2 million settlement for 52 anti-war protesters who were arrested without probable cause and in retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights in Kunstler v. City of New York, No. 04 Civ. 1145 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).


  • Secured historic settlement requiring New York City to pay $4.8 million to Housing Works, a non-profit housing, advocacy and service organization for people with AIDS, in lawsuit challenging the city’s vindictive decision to terminate funding for Housing Works in response to the advocacy group’s criticism of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Housing Works v. Giuliani, 179 F.Supp.2d 177 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), aff’d (2d Cir. 2003); Housing Works v. Turner, 2004 WL 2101900 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 15, 2004), adopted as modified, 362 F. Supp. 2d 434 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).


  • Obtained federal injunction requiring the State of Nevada to allow its citizens to vote on an initiative in 2006 which proposes the legalization of Marijuana use in certain circumstances and and order declaring that the State’s refusal to place the Marijuana initiative on the ballot to have been a violation of the due process, equal protection, and first amendment guarantees of the United States Constitution. American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada v. Lomax, 471 F.3d 1010 (9th Cir. 2006).


  • Obtained injunction securing over $3 million in federal funds based on showing that the Giuliani Administration retaliated against Housing Works for its harsh criticism of the Administration’s policies in violation of Housing Works’ First Amendment rights in Housing Works v. City of New York, 72 F. Supp. 2d 402 (S.D.N.Y 1999).


  • Obtained $1.2 million settlement for former NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Equal Employment Opportunity after she was terminated for exposing high-level misconduct and discrimination in Marsh v. Safir, No. 99 Civ. 8605 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).


  • Obtained judgment declaring that City’s refusal to grant plaintiff’s application to temporarily rename the street in front of the Indonesian mission “Free East Timor” or “Santa Cruz Massacre” violated the First Amendment and constituted a prior restraint in East Timor Action Network v. City of New York, 71 F. Supp. 2d 334 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).


Attorney News


New York University School of Law, J.D., 1990


Hampshire College, B.A., 1985



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Federal Bar Council
American Constitution Society
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National Police Accountability Project
Board Member, Bronx Legal Services