SOKOLOFF STERN, LLP

Recent Cases

BRIAN SOKOLOFF SECURES IMPORTANT WIN FOR MUNICIPALITIES IN NEW YORK COURT OF APPEALS

In February 2022, Brian Sokoloff argued before the New York Court of Appeals in one of the most important municipal liability cases in years. Representing the City of Binghamton, he secured amicus participation from the New York Association of Towns, the New York Conference of Mayors, and the City of New York. The case stemmed from a SWAT team’s execution of a no-knock search warrant during which an unexpected house guest was shot by police. At issue was plaintiff’s argument that, because a police officer inflicted the injury, he need not prove the city owed him a “special duty.” The case came to New York’s highest court on a certified question from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which found New York law unclear. The question was:  “Does the ‘special duty’ requirement — that, to sustain liability in negligence against a municipality, the plaintiff must show that the duty breached is greater than that owed to the public generally — apply to claims of injury inflicted through municipal negligence, or does it apply only when the municipality’s negligence lies in its failure to protect the plaintiff from an injury inflicted other than by a municipal employee?”

 

The New York Court of Appeals followed the argument with a 5-2 decision that articulated the rule urged by Binghamton and its amici: ““[T]he special duty requirement applies to all negligence actions against a governmental defendant…” One well-connected observer told Brian, “You secured a vitally important decision for all NYS governmental entities that will save their collective budgets tens of millions of dollars. You also secured a clear articulation of the analytical  principles to be applied – something that eluded the NYS Court of Appeals for 50 years or so. A significant achievement and a crowning professional accomplishment!”

TRIAL VICTORY IN FIRST AMENDMENT LAWSUIT

In LaFace v. Eastern Suffolk BOCES, United States District Judge Gary R. Brown granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for a directed verdict following a three-day bench trial. The plaintiff claimed he was transferred to different positions in retaliation for alleged whistleblower activities. The court found no causal connection between the transfers and his alleged speech, and dismissed plaintiff’s claims.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord defended the case.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF MONTAUK JETTY LAWSUIT

In Cangemi v. Town of East Hampton, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a comprehensive 51-page decision affirming the post-trial ruling by Judge Joanna Seybert that dismissed all claims against the Town. The eleven plaintiff homeowners claimed the jetties that frame the opening to Lake Montauk Harbor, installed nearly a century ago, caused severe erosion to their waterfront properties. They sought significant monetary damages and an injunction compelling the Town to perform a multi-million dollar beach restoration project. After more than ten years of litigation, including a four-week trial in 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the trial court’s post-trial dismissal of the lawsuit. The court found the Town is not responsible for the alleged erosion because it has no control over the jetties, which constitute a Federal Navigation Project wholly controlled by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

 

Steven C. Stern and Chelsea Weisbord defended the Town of East Hampton at trial and on appeal.

ELECTION LAW VICTORY

In an apparent issue of first impression, Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte found in favor of Sokoloff Stern’s municipal client, denying an Article 78 petition that sought to invalidate a political party’s nominating petitions. The court found the petitioners failed to allege any fatal defects in the reliance on copies and remote means to communicate with a notary public. The court dismissed the petition in its entirety.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Connor Mulry defended the case.

SOKOLOFF STERN DEFEATS EMPLOYEE’S CLAIMS AGAINST CHARTER SCHOOL

In Curtis v. Growing Up Green Charter School, the Supreme Court, Queens County dismissed a former employee’s claims for failure to comply with the requirements of the Education Law and General Municipal Law. The court found the pre-suit notice of claim requirements that routinely apply to public schools also applied to claims against charter schools.

 

Adam Kleinberg and Richard Sui drafted the successful motion and represented the school 

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES PUTATIVE CLASS ACTION

In J.T. v. De Blasio, Southern District Chief Judge Colleen McMahon dismissed a federal lawsuit brought by a group of families alleging that the pandemic-related shift to virtual learning in public schools violated their constitutional rights. The court rejected plaintiffs’ claim of a RICO violation and dismissed the lawsuit, which sought certification as a class action on behalf of all special education students in the United States.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg, and Chelsea Weisbord represented a group of Nassau and Suffolk County school districts in the nationwide litigation. 

FEDERAL COURT DENIES PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND DISMISSED PROPOSED CLASS ACTION

In Doe v. Zucker, several students and their parents sued various New York State agencies and school districts seeking certification as a state-wide class action lawsuit. Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of New York’s recent amendments to its mandatory vaccine laws, and the school districts’ application of the new law. U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of New York Brenda K. Sannes denied a petition for immediate reinstatement of students who failed to comply with the vaccine laws, and granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case in its entirety.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord, along with their co-counsel from Albany, Johnson & Laws, drafted and successfully argued the motion.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DISMISSES CHALLENGE TO SCHOOL DISTRICT’S APPLICATION OF VACCINATION LAW

In Kolodziej, the N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights examined a challenge to a Suffolk County school district’s application of the Public Health Law’s vaccination requirements. The DHR found the New York State Human Rights Law was not intended to permit a change in the Public Health Law’s requirements aimed at preventing and controlling infectious diseases. The agency found it was appropriate for the school district to take steps to comply with the law.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Cooper Binsky successfully defended the school district 

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DISMISSES COVID-19 DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

The N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights examined a challenge to a Nassau County school district’s response to a COVID-19 related accommodation request. The agency found no evidence to support the claim of any unlawful discriminatory practice. The case was dismissed in its entirety.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Cooper Binsky successfully defended the school district.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS MOTION TO DISMISS IN FEDERAL WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT

In Regan v. Village of Pelham, a school administrator alleged he was terminated without due process from a probationary position he had never started. United States District Judge Nelson S. Román granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss finding plaintiff failed to state a due process claim because, as a probationary employee, he had no property interest in the position.

 

Steven C. Stern and Cooper Binsky drafted the successful motion. 

SOKOLOFF STERN DEFEATS CUSTODIAN’S DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CASE

In Cogliano v. Babylon Union Free School District, the plaintiff alleged his termination from his custodial position was the result of disability discrimination and retaliation, and in violation of his due process rights. State Supreme Court Justice Kathy G. Bergman granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that his state law claims were time-barred and the allegations were far too conclusory to withstand a motion to dismiss.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord drafted the successful motion 

SUMMARY JUDGMENT AWARDED IN ALLEGED SCHOOL BULLYING CASE

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Joseph Santorelli granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment in a case alleging incidents of bullying towards a public school student. The court agreed that the incidents at issue occurred so quickly they could not have been prevented by any reasonable degree of supervision.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg, Chelsea Weisbord, and Stuart Diamond represented the Board of Cooperative Educational Services and its staff during discovery and on the motion.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINARY HEARING

Sokoloff Stern successfully drafted and prosecuted charges of misconduct and insubordination against a municipal employee pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and New York State Civil Service Law. Following a due process hearing, and upon review of the parties’ closing briefs, a neutral hearing officer found the employee guilty of most of the charges, and determined termination was the appropriate penalty.

Adam I. Kleinberg drafted the charges, conducted the hearing, and drafted the closing brief.

HOUSING DISCRIMINATION CASE DISMISSED

In Dennis v. Greenburgh Housing Auth., the Westchester County Supreme Court dismissed a challenge under the disability discrimination laws to a public housing authority’s assignment of parking spaces to its residents. The court affirmed the New York State Division of Human Rights’ determination that there was no evidence of discrimination to support the claim.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord successfully defended the housing authority.

ADMINISTRATIVE TRIAL VICTORY IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE

The New York State Division of Human Rights dismissed a school employee’s sexual harassment and retaliation claims against a public school district, following a four-day hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Alex Eleftherakis represented the school district in the matter.

PLAINTIFFS PRECLUDED FROM PRESENTING EVIDENCE OF DAMAGES AT TRIAL

In Pilitz v. Inc. Village of Freeport, Eastern District Judge Joanna Seybert granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to preclude plaintiffs from presenting any evidence of damages at trial, based on their failure to comply with discovery obligations. The decision limits plaintiffs to nominal damages in a federal lawsuit alleging selective enforcement regarding municipal towing lists.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman prepared the successful motion.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DISMISSES DISABILITY DISCRMINATION CLAIM

In Bradley v. Town of Newburgh, the N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights (“DHR”) found in favor of the Town, determining there was no probable cause to support allegations of disability discrimination by a former Town employee. The DHR found Complainant lacked evidence of discriminatory animus, and that his request to perform tasks other than those assigned to him was not a request for a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Cooper Binsky successfully defended the Town. 

COMMERCIAL TENANT PREVAILS ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND RECOVERS FROM LANDLORD

In Romcargio, LLC v. 653 Ninth LLC, a commercial tenant sought to recover a security deposit improperly withheld after the surrender of the premises. The firm sued on the tenant’s behalf in New York County. Justice Andrew S. Borrok found in the tenant’s favor, and Sokoloff Stern restrained the landlord’s assets until the tenant received payment, with the interest owed.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg successfully represented the tenant during the litigation and post-judgment

SOKOLOFF STERN OBTAINS VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL OF FORMER STUDENT’S LAWSUIT

A former student of the Roosevelt Union Free School District claimed inaccuracies in his academic transcript prevented him from graduating from a school district in which he subsequently enrolled. Sokoloff Stern moved to dismiss all claims at the outset of the case. Rather than respond to the motion, plaintiff abandoned the lawsuit and stipulated to dismiss the entire action.

 

Adam Kleinberg and Cooper Binsky defended the school district.

SOKOLOFF STERN SUCCEEDS IN CORPORATE DISSOLUTION AND DISMISSAL OF SHAREHOLDER’S COUNTERCLAIMS

In Schweppe v. Bobbi Jo Forte, the Dutchess County Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s request for corporate dissolution, citing the existing order of protection against the respondent and finding it was not reasonably practical to carry on the business. The court also dismissed all counterclaims asserted by Forte, including those alleging breach of contract, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

 

Adam Kleinberg successfully represented the petitioner shareholder in the litigation.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FEDERAL SEXUAL ORIENTATION LAWSUIT

In Radice v. Eastport South Manor Central School District, a longstanding, part-time athletic trainer alleged the decision to create a full-time position and award it to someone else was discriminatory and retaliatory. The court dismissed various claims at the pre-answer stage. United States District Judge Gary R. Brown granted Sokoloff Stern’s summary judgment motion, dismissing plaintiff’s remaining claim which alleged a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found the school district provided legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for its personnel decisions, which preceded plaintiff’s complaint and could not give rise to a retaliation claim.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord defended the District and its officials throughout the litigation.

 

APPELLATE DIVISION AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF WRONGFUL DEATH SIDEWALK CASE

In DeFilippo v. City of Glen Cove the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment, dismissing all claims against the City on the grounds that it did not have prior written notice of the specific defect that caused plaintiff to trip and fall. The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that a prior accident at that location and prior repair work provided sufficient notice to the City, since the defect had been repaired before plaintiff’s accident.

 

Kiera J. Meehan and Stuart Diamond successfully defended the case.

STUART DIAMOND PREVAILS FOR HOUSING AUTHORITIES ON TRIO OF TRIP AND FALL CASES IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY SUPREME COURT

In Acevedo v. Mt. Kisco Housing Authority, the court granted summary judgment, dismissing the case on the grounds that plaintiff was unable to identify the cause of her slip and fall on a staircase outside her Housing Authority apartment.

In Moreno v. Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers, the court granted summary judgment, dismissing the case on the grounds that the Housing Authority neither created the ice patch plaintiff slipped on nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence.

 

In Rogers v. Greenburgh Housing Authority, the court granted summary judgment, dismissing the case on the grounds that a storm was still in progress when plaintiff slipped and fell on snow at her Housing Authority development. The court also found that the Housing Authority neither created the snow nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence.

SOKOLOFF STERN PREVAILS ON UNINSURED MOTORIST APPEAL

In U.S. Specialty Ins. Co. v. Navarro, the firm commenced a proceeding to permanently stay an arbitration involving a claim for supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and obtain a declaration no coverage existed under the policy. The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the trial court’s decision, finding the claimant was not an insured under the policy and that equitable estoppel may not be invoked to create coverage where none existed.  The claimant’s motions to re-argue the and for leave to appeal to the N.Y.S Court of Appeals were both denied.

 

Kiera Meehan successfully handled the motion and appeals.

NASSAU COURT REFUSES TO ALLOW LATE NOTICE OF CLAIM

In McDonald v. Inc. Village of Great Neck Estates, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Feinman denied Petitioner’s request for leave to file a late notice of claim. The court agreed petitioner failed to meet her burden to establish a reasonable excuse for the delay, that the Village had acquired actual timely notice of her claim, and lack of prejudice. The court also denied petitioner’s subsequent motion to renew and reargue.

Kiera J. Meehan successfully defended the case.

SECOND CIRCUIT UPHOLDS DISMISSAL OF LANDOWNER’S UNRIPE DUE PROCESS, CONSPIRACY, AND ARTICLE 78 CLAIMS

In Thomas v. Town of Mamakating, plaintiff challenged the Building Inspector’s determination that she was engaged in unauthorized mining on her property, the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to uphold that determination, and the Planning Board’s determination dismissing her request to reinstate an expired site plan approval. U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint on ripeness grounds, finding none of these actions constituted a “final decision” for ripeness purposes. The court also ruled plaintiff failed to plausibly invoke the futility exception to the final decision requirement. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

 

Leo Dorfman and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion and appellate brief.

SUFFOLK COUNTY SUPREME COURT DISMISSES WHISTLEBLOWER AND RETALIATION CLAIMS

In Arciero v. Village of Amityville, a former Village Justice Court Clerk claimed the Village terminated her employment because she complained about an alleged “parking meter scam” and about alleged discrimination in the Village. She alleged violations of the New York State Labor Law’s “whistleblower” provision and of the New York State Human Rights Law. Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Santorelligranted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, finding plaintiff’s whistleblower claim was time-barred and triggered a waiver of her New York State Human Rights Law retaliation claim.

Adam I. Kleinberg and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion.

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDS DISMISSAL OF FALSE ARREST CLAIM

In O’Neal v. Town of East Hampton, et al., plaintiff sued for false arrest claim in federal court after he was arrested by the Town police department and later indicted by grand jury on four counts of second-degree assault. United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco dismissed the claims against the Town of East Hampton and its police department, finding plaintiff’s guilty plea established probable cause for his arrest and barred his claims under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heck v. Humphrey doctrine. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

 

Steven C. Stern and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion and appellate briefing.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES LANDOWNER’S UNRIPE DUE PROCESS AND CONSPIRACY CLAIMS

In Roe v. Town of Mamakating, a property developer claimed the Town, its Town Board, and Planning Board conspired to impede four land use projects in violation of his substantive due process rights under the Federal and New York State constitutions. U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint on ripeness grounds, finding the Town had not yet reached a “final decision” on any of plaintiff’s four projects and that plaintiff failed to show the history of the projects warranted application of the futility exception to the final decision requirement.

Brian S. Sokoloff, Leo Dorfman, and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS GENDER DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

In Jaeger v. North Babylon Union Free School District, a male teacher claimed the District treated him less favorably than his ex-wife, a female former District employee. U.S. District Judge Arthur D. Spatt granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s gender discrimination and retaliation claims. The court found the alleged conduct was not legally cognizable adverse employment actions, plaintiff’s allegations did not give rise to an inference of discriminatory intent, and he failed to demonstrate his complaints of gender discrimination were the “but for” cause of the alleged retaliation.

 

Steven C. Stern and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS SCHOOL DISTRICT’S HIRING DECISION WAS NOT DISCRIMINATORY

In Bedard, the N.Y.S. Division of Human rights found the school district did not discriminate on account of race, age, or gender when it passed him over for more qualified candidates, including those of the same race and gender.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Vernée C. Pelage defended the school district.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES RETALIATION CLAIMS AGAISNT SANITARY DISTRICT

In Nicosia v. Sanitary District Six of The Town of Hempstead, plaintiff brought his second lawsuit against the district, alleging the its failure to promote him was retaliation for his political affiliations. U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein found most of plaintiff’s claims were barred by res judicata, and dismissed the remaining claims because plaintiff failed to show he was qualified for the position or that the district’s decision was at all politically motivated.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Vernée C. Pelage drafted the successful motion.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS NO DISCRIMINATION WHERE SIMILAR EMPLOYEE IS TREATED SIMILARLY

In Nieves-Rosario, the N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights dismissed complainant’s racial discrimination claims against a retail design company, finding he was treated the same as another similarly situated employee of a different race, who had to wait an additional month to be evaluated for permanent placement.

 

Leo Dorfman and Vernée C. Pelage defended the design company.

STATE COURT DISMISSES NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION WHERE TOWN HAD NO DUTY TO PLAINTIFF

In Okrent v. The Town of Kent, plaintiffs sued the Town for negligent misrepresentation, based on the Town’s assertion their property was on a Town road. The state court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims because they could not show a special relationship with the Town that gave rise to any duty breached by the Town.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Vernée C. Pelage drafted the successful motion to dismiss.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FIND SCHOOL DISTRICT DID NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST TERMINATED EMPLOYEE

In Romano, the complainant alleged her termination from a school district was the result of gender discrimination. The N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights found complainant’s well documented altercations and rising tensions with another employee (who was also terminated) were more likely the reason for the District’s decision.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Vernée C. Pelage successfully defended the school district.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS VILLAGE DID NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST POLICE OFFICER BY NOT PROMOTING HIM

In Proctor, the complainant alleged a local police department did not promote him because of his race and in retaliation for his union grievance opposing discrimination. The N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights found in favor of the department, as he could not show other employees treated more favorably, and the department set forth several legitimate, non-discriminatory justifications its personnel decisions, including law enforcement concerns and budgetary restrictions.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Vernée C. Pelage defended the police department.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF SERGEANT’S DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION LAWSUIT AGAINST FORMER POLICE CHIEF

In Garvey v. Town of Clarkstown, a former police Sergeant alleged the Town and its Chief of Police discriminated and retaliated against him by removing him from the payroll and not providing him a reasonable accommodation after a hearing officer declared he was not entitled to 207-c benefits. U.S. District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, agreeing that plaintiff was not a “qualified individual with a disability” to place him within the protections of the ADA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision.

 

Leo Dorfman and Chelsea Weisbord drafted the successful motion and appellate brief.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS CLAIM THAT VILLAGE OFFICIALS’ VISITS TO A RESIDENTIAL HOME WERE ILLEGAL

In Oriental and Vernard v. Village of Westbury, plaintiffs sued the Village and its officials, alleging various constitutional claims relating to an alleged unlawful search of their property. U.S. District Court Judge Denis R. Hurley granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case, finding the Village did not violate plaintiff’s constitutional rights because it never entered the home, the backyard, or any area behind a fence.

 

Steven C. Stern and Chelsea Weisbord successfully defended the litigation.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS NO RACE OR NATIONAL ORIGIN DISCRIMINATION AT A NURSING HOME AND REHABILITATION CENTER

In Dessources, the N.Y.S. Division of Human Rights found that a nursing home and rehabilitation center had not discriminated against the complainant on account of her race or national origin when it terminated her for longstanding performance issues documented with formal write ups and suspensions.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Chelsea Weisbord successfully defended the facility.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS TOWN DID NOT DISCRIMINATE OR RETALIATE AGAINST LOCAL TOWN ENGINEER AND FORMER DEPUTY CLERK

In Cronin, the complainant alleged that after he lodged an internal workplace violence complaint, the Town treated him and his stepdaughter unfairly and ultimately forced her to resign from her position as Deputy Clerk. The Division of Human Rights found that complainant had not engaged in any protected activity, and that there was no evidence of discriminatory animus.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Chelsea Weisbord successfully defended the Town.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY

In Acevedo v. Village/Town of Mt. Kisco, plaintiff claimed to have been severely injured while descending the stairs in an apartment building owned by the Mt. Kisco Housing Authority. Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Lawrence H. Ecker granted summary judgment in favor of the Housing Authority, finding that plaintiff could not identify the cause of her fall and that plaintiff’s expert could do no more than speculate as to any dangerous condition or violations of building code regulations.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Stuart Diamond successfully defended the Housing Authority

SOKOLOFF STERN SECURES SUMMARY JUDGMENT DISMISSAL OF FEDERAL FOURTH AMENDMENT CLAIM

In Parker v. Fantasia, the Rockland Drug Task Force investigated drug trafficking in Rockland County. Acquiring evidence through wiretaps, the Task Force suspected plaintiff of using his apartment to sell and store cocaine and heroin. The Task force applied for and received a search warrant for plaintiff’s premises. After the Task Force searched plaintiff’s apartment, it arrested him.  The Rockland District Attorney’s Office successfully tried and convicted plaintiff. Thereafter, he sued various defendants, including the Spring Valley police officer who applied for the search warrant.  Sokoloff Stern represented Spring Valley and its police officer.  Plaintiff  claimed the search warrant was invalid either because the officer lied on the warrant application of because the officer forged the judge’s signature on the warrant.  Plaintiff also claimed police officers damaged his property during the search. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas dismissed some of plaintiff’s claims on a pre-answer motion, and he dismissed the remainder of plaintiff’s claims in a 28-page summary judgment decision. Judge Karas found a lack of evidence supporting plaintiff’s claim of warrant forgery, and he found no evidence to support plaintiff’s claim of property damage. 

 

Brian S. Sokoloff drafted the successful motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.

SOKOLOFF STERN DEFEATS STUDENT’S FIRST AMENDMENT CASE REGARDING SCHOOL VARIETY SHOW

In Vetrano v. Miller Place Union Free School District, a high school senior was banned from the second day’s performance of the school variety show, after he violated the rules by ad-libbing a disparaging remark about the Superintendent. United States District Judge Arthur D. Spatt held the student’s speech was not protected because the variety show bore the imprimatur of the school subject to restrictions related to legitimate pedagogical concerns; the decision to discipline the student was based on the plaintiff’s failure to abide by the rules; and the disciplinary penalty was de minimis and therefore not a constitutional violation. The Court also dismissed plaintiff’s due process and void for vagueness claims regarding the school’s code of conduct.

 

Steven C. Stern and Chelsea Weisbord defended the school district and several administrators named in the case.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS WRONGFUL DEATH POLICE PURSUIT CASE FOR CITY OF NEW ROCHELLE

In Valdovinos v. City of New Rochelle, a young woman complained to police that her intoxicated boyfriend had assaulted her at her home. While they were interviewing her, the suspect drove by, and the police initiated a vehicular pursuit. Within 88 seconds after the pursuit began, the police came upon the overturned vehicle from which both the driver and passenger had been thrown. Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Sam D. Walker held the police were immune from liability under VTL 1104, as the officer  did not drive in reckless disregard for the safety of others. Click here for decision

 

Steven C. Stern and Gil Auslander drafted the successful motion for summary judgment.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS LANDMARK APPELLATE DECISION FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN DASA LITIGATION

In Eskenazi-McGibney v. Connetquot, the Appellate Division, Second Department held that the Dignity for All Students Act (“DASA”) does not give rise to a private right of action against a school district. This decision reversed the lower court’s determination and established the law within the Second Department that individuals may not sue in a court of law for DASA violations. Click here for decision

Adam Kleinberg and Alexander Eleftherakis handled the appeal.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS FIRST AMENDMENT CASE FOR FORMER CLARKSTOWN POLICE CHIEF

In Black Lives Matter v. Town of Clarkstown, plaintiffs allege the police department conducted illegal online surveillance of the local Black Lives Matter chapter, and intimidated them by positioning rooftop snipers at one of its rallies. Although Judge Nelson Román of the Southern District of New York allowed the case to proceed against the Town and another individual, he dismissed the claims against former Police Chief Michael Sullivan based on his lack of personal involvement. The Court also dismissed Black Lives Matter from the case because it lacked organizational standing.  Click here for article

Steven C. Stern and Chelsea Weisbord drafted the successful motion for Chief Sullivan.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES LAWSUIT REGARDING STUDENT DISCIPLINE

In A.F. v. Kings Park Central School District, two plaintiffs alleged they were unfairly disciplined in violation of their due process and First Amendment rights in connection with their receipt of an inappropriate video of another student. United States District Judge Arthur D. Spatt granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case. For the due process claims, Judge Spatt held the school’s disciplinary code was not unconstitutionally vague, and he declined to second-guess the decision of school administrators. He rejected the First Amendment claims by finding plaintiffs were not chilled in the exercise of their rights or threatened with future harm. 

 

Steven C. Stern drafted the successful motion to dismiss.

JUDGE TOSSES LAND USE CASE AGAINST VILLAGE OF SAGAPONACK

In Sagaponack Realty, LLC v. Village of Sagaponack, the plaintiff attempted to drag the Village into a decade-long partnership dispute over the development of a multimillion dollar beachfront property. Judge Denis R. Hurley of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed all claims against the Village based on principles of standing, subject matter jurisdiction, ripeness, and because plaintiff failed to show sufficient similarity between applications to support a disparate treatment claim.

 

Steven C. Stern and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion. 

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS MALICIOUS PROSECUTION CASE FOR SULLIVAN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

In Hutchins v. Solomon, the plaintiff alleged the District Attorney conspired with members of the Monticello Police Department to maliciously prosecute a Village Board member for attempting to truncate a background investigation to help his friend secure a job as a police officer. Southern District Judge Kenneth M. Karas granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the claims against the District Attorney on the grounds of absolute immunity.

Steven C. Stern and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS STUDENT PRIVACY CLAIM

In Magnoni v. Plainedge Union Free School District, plaintiff alleged that providing certain student information to a student’s non-custodial relative violated the student’s and parents’ rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). U.S. District Judge Denis R. Hurley granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, finding FERPA does not provide a private right of action, and the information provided was “directory information” not protected by either Act.

 

Steven C. Stern drafted the successful motion.

SOKOLOFF STERN WIN PRESERVES BEACH DRIVING IN SOUTHAMPTON

In Araskog Thomas v. Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonality of the Town of Southampton, plaintiffs alleged that regulations permitting the public to drive 4×4 vehicles on private beaches within a public access easement violated the Due Process and Takings clauses of the 5th and Fourteenth Amendments, constitute public and private nuisances, and were ultra vires and void. Justice Joseph A. Santorelli denied plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, granted the Trustees’ motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the entire case. This was a significant victory for the public use of the beaches, which dates back to the colonial Dongan Patent of 1686. Click here for article

Steven C. Stern and Chelsea Weisbord drafted the successful motion.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON CO-WORKER HARASSMENT

In Franco v. Incorporated Village of Westbury, the complainant alleged he was harassed by co-workers who made him feel uncomfortable by speaking Spanish in his presence. The New York State Division of Human Rights found in favor of the Village on all claims.

Steven Stern and Chelsea Weisbord defended the Village of Westbury.

DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FINDS NO DISCRIMINATION AT MCDONALDS FRANCHISE

In Barrientos v. McDonald’s, the New York State Division of Human rights found that a McDonald’s franchise did not discriminate against the complainant on account of national origin when it terminated him based on his work performance.

 

Steven Stern and Alex Eleftherakis defended McDonald’s before the Division of Human Rights.

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS TRIP AND FALL CASES FOR LONG ISLAND VILLAGES

In Arciere v. Village of Hewlett Bay Park, the court granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing all claims against the Village as it was not responsible for the negligence of an outside contractor to whom the Village had issued a permit to do roadway work.

 

In Lambert v. Village of Great Neck Estates, the court granted summary judgment to the Village on the grounds that it did not own or control the pathway where the plaintiff fell, and because the Village lacked prior written notice of the defect.

 

Steven C. Stern and Stuart Diamond successfully defended these cases.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIM AGAINST TOWN OF EAST HAMPTON

In Martinez v. DeMarco, the plaintiff brought various civil rights claims against individual police officers relating to his arrest for the attempted murder of his wife. United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco adopted Magistrate Judge Kathleen A. Tomlinson’s recommendation that the Court grant Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

SUFFOLK COUNTY SUPREME COURT AWARDS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN CONTRACTUAL DISPUTE

In General Bangtson, LLC v. Zizzi Construction Corp., a subcontractor sought to recover amounts owed by a general contractor for various residential projects. The court granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment awarding damages against both the corporate defendant and the individual defendant owner of the corporation.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord drafted the successful motion.

APPELLATE DIVISION AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF DEFAMATION CLAIM AGAINST MAYOR

In Brummel v. Board of Trustees of the Village of East Hills, the Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of a defamation claim against the Village Mayor. The Second Department found the challenged statements were opinion and hyperbole and not defamatory.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Alexander J. Eleftherakis handled the successful appeal.

FEDERAL COURT GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO POLICE IN SHOOTING OF EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED PERSON

In Cruz v. City of New Rochelle, several New Rochelle police officers attempted to remove an emotionally disturbed person from his apartment to bring him to a hospital. When they entered, Mr. Cruz charged at them with a knife; when efforts to Taser him failed, one of the officers shot him and killed him. After protracted discovery, United States Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith issued a 74-page decision granting Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing all federal civil rights and state law claims.

Steven C. Stern and David Gold defended the litigation and drafted the successful motion.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY SUPREME COURT DISMISSES THREE NEGLIGENCE CASES AGAINST PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITIES

The firm recently obtained summary judgment in three snow and ice lawsuits filed against different public housing authorities. In Aquilato v. Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers, the court agreed the storm in progress doctrine applied to preclude liability against the housing authority, as it did not have a reasonable opportunity to remedy the icy condition at issue. In Rogers v. Greenburgh Housing Authority, the court agreed that the defense expert sufficiently demonstrated the applicability of the storm in progress defense, and the housing authority did not have actual or constructive notice of the condition. In Moreno v. Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers, the court agreed that plaintiffs could not show actual or constructive notice of the alleged condition. The court rejected plaintiffs’ reliance on non-party witnesses and a weather expert.

 

Kiera Meehan successfully defended the Aquilato case and Adam I. Kleinberg and Stu Diamond successfully defended the Rogers and Moreno cases.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES RACE AND AGE DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT

In Jones-Khan v. Westbury Union Free School District, Eastern District Judge Joanna Seybert granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment on all of plaintiff’s race and age-based discrimination claims. The court found the District’s termination of plaintiff’s employment was in accordance with applicable New York State regulations and there was no evidence of any discriminatory animus.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Melissa L. Holtzer successfully defended the District and drafted the motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST BOCES

In Flieger v. Eastern Suffolk BOCES, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied plaintiff’s appeal from an award of summary judgment in BOCES’ favor. The Circuit rejected plaintiff’s various claims of adverse employment action, found that plaintiff could not rebut BOCES’ legitimate non-discriminatory basis for a transfer, and determined that plaintiff had not identified an accommodation that would have permitted her to perform all of the essential functions of her former position.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Chelsea Weisbord successfully handled the appeal.

FEDERAL JUDGE DISMISSES AGE DISCRIMINATION SUIT AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT AND ITS OFFICIALS

In Pfizenmayer v. Hicksville Public Schools, plaintiff sued in federal court alleging age discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation following her retirement from teaching. U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, holding that the actions plaintiff complained of – having been assigned “lower-functioning” and “non-English speaking students,” her classroom reassignment, a verbal reprimand, and an alleged negative performance evaluation – did not constitute adverse employment actions or a hostile work environment, and could not support a constructive discharge claim. The Court also dismissed plaintiff’s retaliation claim, finding she could not have had a good faith, reasonable belief that her complaints constituted protected activity under the ADEA. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision.

 

Steven C. Stern and Alexander J. Eleftherakis drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FIRST AMENDMENT RETALIATION LAWSUIT AGAINST RETIRED SOUTHAMPTON POLICE CHIEF

In Kiernan v. Town of Southampton, a police Lieutenant at the center of what Newsday called“The Southampton Tapes,” claimed the Town’s Police Chief brought disciplinary charges against him in retaliation for the Lieutenant’s political activity. The charges stemmed from the Lieutenant’s oversight of an officer who was addicted to prescription drugs. In a 74-page decision, United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein concluded there was no evidence of an improper or retaliatory motive by the Chief, and no connection between the Lieutenant’s political activities and the charges of misconduct.

Steven C. Stern prosecuted the disciplinary matter.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff, Leo Dorfman and Susan H. Odessky defended the litigation and drafted the successful motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS BY FORMER COACH ALLEGED TO HAVE ENGAGED IN INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL CONTACT WITH STUDENTS

In Jones v. Bay Shore UFSD, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims for First Amendment retaliation, and violations of Equal Protection and Due Process arising from the school district’s restrictions of a former employee from campus and, in particular, a school board meeting. The three-judge panel held, “No rational jury could conclude that the defendants were motivated by retaliatory animus rather than by legitimate concerns about student safety”; that appellant failed to show others similarly situated who were given preferential treatment; and appellant’s interest in attending board meetings without providing advance notice was de minimis.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kaitlyn R. McKenna handled the appeal and underlying litigation.

FEDERAL JUDGE DISMISSES AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES CLAIMS AGAINST BOCES

In Flieger v. Eastern Suffolk BOCES, a former teaching assistant alleged BOCES changed her classroom assignment because of her disabilities and failed to provide her a reasonable accommodation after she suffered an injury.  U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion, dismissing all claims against BOCES and finding no evidence of disability discrimination or a failure to accommodate.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS DISMISSES PAIR OF CIVIL RIGHTS CASES REGARDING VILLAGE CODE VIOLATIONS

The Second Circuit affirmed dismissal of the two latest in a series of cases brought by a pro se plaintiff: Terry v. County of Suffolk and Terry v. Inc. Village of Patchogue.  Mr. Terry alleged that the Village of Patchogue and several officials improperly targeted him and his business in various way.   In affirming the dismissal, the Circuit held that plaintiff’s arguments were “unconvincing,” “implausible,” and time-barred, and he failed to demonstrate that he suffered “concrete harm.”

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Melissa L. Holtzer successfully defended the Village and its officials in these matters.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FIRST AMENDMENT AND WHISTLEBLOWER CASE AGAINST TOWN ADMINISTRATOR

In Harisch v. Goldberg, a police lieutenant claimed the Town Administrator retaliated against him after he complained about overtime abuse in the department.  He alleged violations of the First Amendment and New York Civil Service Law’s “whistleblower” provision. U.S. District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss all claims against the Town Administrator, finding plaintiff engaged in no constitutionally protected speech and could not bring Civil Service Law claim for procedural reasons.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL JURY REJECTS RETALIATION AND RACE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT

In Besson v. Malverne UFSD, a former business teacher alleged the school district and administrators reduced his position from full-time to part-time for one year because he had criticized the Superintendent at a public board meeting.  He also alleged they discriminated against him on the basis of his race in the distribution of administrative duty assignments.  Following a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack, the jury found in favor of the school district and individual administrators on all claims.

 

Susan H. Odessky and Melissa L. Holtzer defended the school district and its administrators.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FIRST AMENDMENT CLAIM AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT AND OFFICIALS FOR RESTRICTING FORMER COACH FROM CAMPUS

In Jones v. Bay Shore UFSD, a former coach who resigned under allegations of inappropriate conduct with students was restricted from appearing on campus.  When he was not permitted to attend a Board of Education meeting, he alleged the limitation was motivated by retaliation for his advocacy on behalf of minorities.  U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert granted summary judgment to defendants, finding that the school district precluded plaintiff from the meeting for safety reasons, not because of protected speech.  She also dismissed an Open Meetings Law claim on both substantive and procedural grounds.

Steven C. Stern and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL JUDGE DISMISSES AGE DISCRIMINATION SUIT AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT AND DISTRICT OFFICIALS

In Briante v. Longwood Central School District, after plaintiff retired from her teaching position she sued in federal court alleging age discrimination and hostile work environment.  U.S. District Judge Denis R. Hurley granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, holding that modifying plaintiff’s teaching assignments, criticizing her, and failing to protect her from an angry parent were not adverse employment actions, did not create a hostile work environment, and did not demonstrate age-based discriminatory animus.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kaitlyn R. McKenna successfully draft the motion.

NASSAU COUNTY COURT DISMISSES $25 MILLION DEFAMATION AND FRAUD SUIT AGAINST PULITZER PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST

In Lachman v. Marcus, plaintiff sued for defamation, fraud, tortious interference with prospective business relations, and infliction of emotional distress, seeking $25 million dollars and injunctive relief.  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Karen Murphy granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint, finding that plaintiff could not sustain any of her claims as a matter of law.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and David A. Gold drafted the successful motion.

NASSAU COUNTY SUPREME COURT DISMISSES LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT CLAIMS AGAINST INSURANCE BROKER

Sokoloff Stern’s client, an insurance brokerage firm, sued its former employee for breach of duty of loyalty and misappropriation of trade secrets. The employee counterclaimed for unfair competition, employment discrimination, and unpaid commissions under the New York Labor Law. Sokoloff Stern filed an immediate motion to dismiss the counterclaims, which Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Julianne T. Capetola granted in its entirety. The court found the employee could not state a counterclaim on any theory.

 

Adam Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF FIRST AMENDMENT CASE AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS

In Munoz-Feliciano v. Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, plaintiff unsuccessfully ran for school board and then sued in federal court asserting First Amendment retaliation for speaking out on matters of public concern. After the case was summarily dismissed in the trial court, plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  In affirming the dismissal, the Circuit held that plaintiff failed to state a claim based on an alleged “smear campaign” and failed to allege facts sufficient to permit an inference that the alleged conduct was caused by any protected activity.

Adam Kleinberg, Anthony Cardoso, and Kevin Levine successfully defended the school district in this matter.

NASSAU COUNTY COURT GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO CITY IN AMBULANCE COLLISION SUIT

In Guevara v. City of Glen Cove, plaintiff alleged that the City and its ambulance driver were negligent in transporting him from an accident scene, resulting in a collision with another vehicle. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice John M. Galasso granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the Vehicle & Traffic Law’s emergency exception applied, and plaintiff and co-defendant driver could not establish reckless disregard for the safety of others.

 

Stuart Diamond and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF CIVIL RIGHTS CASE INVOLVING ENFORCEMENT OF VILLAGE CODE

In Mangino v. Inc. Vill. of Patchogue, the plaintiff is a local landlord who sued in federal court asserting a myriad of federal and state law claims arising from having been issued numerous housing violations.  He claimed the violations were issued in retaliation for his refusal to obtain a rental permit required by Village law.  He also alleged the Fire Marshal fabricated a complaint of a sparking wire to gain access to his rental property and conduct an inspection for the purpose of issuing additional violations.  Most of the case was dismissed on summary judgment and a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants on the remaining unlawful entry claim.  Plaintiff appealed.  In a reported decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case in its entirety.   The Court held that the Code Enforcement Officer was entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff’s federal malicious abuse of process claim because there is no clearly established constitutional right to be free from abuse of process when that process is supported by probable cause.

Brian S. Sokoloff  handled the case from inception through appeal.

TRIAL VICTORY IN RACE DISCRIMINATION CASE FOR MALVERNE SCHOOLS

In Smith v. Malverne Union Free School District, a mathematics teacher alleged he was denied a promotion and opportunity to teach an additional class on account of his race.  Following a three-day trial before United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack in Central Islip, the jury rejected his claims and found in favor of the school district and individual administrators.

 

Susan H. Odessky and Melissa L. Holtzer defended the district and its administrators.

NASSAU COUNTY COURT REJECTS ARREST DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

In White v. City of Glen Cove, a City sanitation employee alleged he was terminated on account of an arrest for which he was not ultimately convicted, in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law.  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice John Michael Galasso granted summary judgment to the City and its former Director of Public Works, holding that defendants did not violate plaintiff’s rights when it terminated him for failing to show up for work because he was incarcerated.

 

Steven C. Stern and Melissa L. Holtzer drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS REGARDING INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT TIED TO BIZARRE AND DELUSIONAL ONLINE MESSAGES

In Heller v. Town of Pound Ridge, plaintiff sued the Town’s police department and its chief alleging he was coerced to consent to be transported to a mental health facility, where he was ultimately committed.  He claimed this “mental health arrest,” occasioned by his online instant messages and recent firearms purchases, punished him for engaging in First Amendment activity, violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizures, violated his Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights, and resulted in the loss of his right to own a firearm under the Second Amendment.  In a thorough 48-page decision, Southern District Judge Katherine B. Forrest dismissed all claims against the Town of and its chief, holding that plaintiff failed to state any plausible constitutional claims, there was probable cause for the seizure, and the Chief of Police is entitled to qualified immunity for what was “well within the boundaries of what is considered objectively reasonable.”

 

Steven C. Stern drafted the successful motion.

NASSAU COUNTY COURT REJECTS DEFAMATION CLAIM AND BARS PLAINTIFF FROM AMENDING COMPLAINT

In Phillips v. Westbury UFSD, the plaintiff sued the school district and its board of education for defamation following the termination of his employment. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice George R. Peck granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the defamation claim and denied plaintiff’s cross-motion to file a second amended complaint. The Court found the statements at issue either did not state a claim for defamation or were protected by a privilege.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS BY REHABILITATION CENTER

In Safe Harbor LLC v. Town of East Hampton, the plaintiff was an alcohol rehabilitation retreat center that began operations in a residentially-zoned neighborhood without a special permit. Plaintiff alleged that the Town’s Building Inspector and Zoning Board’s determinations that the center needed a special permit violated the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. Eastern District Judge Leonard D. Wexler dismissed the complaint on ripeness grounds, which the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed in its entirety.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Anthony F. Cardoso handled the successful motion and appeal.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE ARISING FROM SCHOOL PHYSICAL EXAMINATION

In Masciotta v. Clarkstown CSD, a student brought federal civil rights claims claiming that a brief physical examination by the school nurse violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, finding that the District’s policies did not violate the Constitution and the defendants were otherwise entitled to qualified immunity.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Anthony F. Cardoso drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT TOSSES NEIGHBOR’S ZONING DISPUTE

In Gregory v. Village of Centre Island, the plaintiff brought constitutional claims, alleging that the Village denied his various building permit applications in retaliation for his failure to accede to the demands of his neighbor, and based on contentious litigation with the prior property owner. Judge Joseph Bianco dismissed the complaint in its entirety, finding that plaintiff’s claims were either time-barred or failed to state a viable constitutional claim.

Anthony F. Cardoso drafted the successful motion.

NASSAU COUNTY COURT REJECTS RETALIATION CLAIM PREMISED ON COMPLAINTS OF FAMILIAL STATUS DISCRIMINATION

In Bibeau v. Great Neck Park District, the plaintiff was an ice skating instructor who alleged the park district violated the Human Rights Law by retaliating against her for complaints of “familial status” discrimination. In what may be a case of first impression, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice R. Bruce Cozzens, Jr. granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, finding that the complaint failed to state a cognizable legal claim.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

SCHOOL DISTRICT PREVAILS IN CONSTRUCTIVE DISCHARGE CLAIM BY FORMER CLERICAL EMPLOYEE

In Gerardi v. Huntington UFSD, a clerical worker sued for gender discrimination and retaliation, alleging she was not hired to an open custodial position because of her gender and, when she complained, was “constructively discharged.” Judge Arthur D. Spatt granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, finding that plaintiff did not raise any genuine triable issues to support her claims.

 

Steven C. Stern and Anthony F. Cardoso successfully defended the school district.

FEDERAL COURT GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN GENDER-BASED EQUAL PROTECTION ACTION

In Favorito v. Longwood Central School District, a tenured foreign language teacher filed suit after she was transferred from the Junior High School to the High School. Plaintiff alleged gender-based equal protection and hostile work environment claims. United States District Judge Joanna Seybert granted Sokoloff Stern’s summary judgment motion, adopting the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Anne Y. Shields, which found no evidence to support plaintiff’s discrimination claims.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kaitlyn R. McKenna successfully defended the school district.

SUFFOLK COUNTY SUPREME COURT DISMISSES DISCRIMINATION/DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

In Angelo v. Eastport-South Manor Central School District, the plaintiff claimed the school district discriminated against and defamed him by removing him from a teaching assignment in its high school.  Justice Joseph Farneti of the Suffolk County Supreme Court granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint for plaintiff’s failure to serve a notice of claim.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

EAST END RESTAURANT’S COUNTERCLAIMS DISMISSED IN TOWN ZONING CASE

In O’Brien v. Town of Yorktown, plaintiff sued in state court alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and negligence.  New York Supreme Court Justice Joan B. Lefkowitz granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing all of plaintiff’s claims, finding there was probable cause for his arrest.  The court also held that plaintiff failed prove that defendant breached a duty of care to him.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and David A. Gold handled the case and drafted the successful motion for summary judgment.

STATE COURT DISMISSES FALSE ARREST AND MALICIOUS PROSECUTION CASE

In Town of East Hampton v. Cyril’s Fish House, the Town sought to enforce its zoning regulations against a restaurant and bar on Montauk Highway.  Sokoloff Stern defended the Town against Cyril’s counterclaims which asserted malicious prosecution and abuse of process based on the Town Code prosecutions and enforcement.  Suffolk County Justice Joseph Farneti granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the counterclaims on procedural grounds. Follow link to East Hampton Star article about the dismissal: Click here

Brian S. Sokoloff and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

WESTCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT WINS FEDERAL AGE DISCRIMINATION CASE

In Franzblau v. Mamaroneck UFSD, the plaintiff sued in federal court claiming he was denied tenure on the basis of age.  Judge Cathy Seibel dismissed the action in its entirety after discovery, finding there was no evidence of age discrimination and that the District acted properly in terminating the plaintiff based on his poor performance record.

Adam I. Kleinberg handled the case and drafted the successful summary judgment motion.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENT’S BULLYING CLAIM

In Eskenazi-McGibney v. Eastern Suffolk BOCES, plaintiff parents brought claims on their own behalf and on behalf of their special education student enrolled in a BOCES half-day program.  They claimed the alleged bullying of their child constituted discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and violated the Equal Protection Clause.  Judge Arthur D. Spatt granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint and denied plaintiff’s motion to amend, finding that the alleged bullying bore no relation to the student’s alleged disability.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

RETALIATION SUIT AGAINST EAST END PUBLIC OFFICIAL DISMISSED

In Ellis v. Wilkinson, the plaintiff sued in federal court, asserting various constitutional and state law claims alleging that the former East Hampton Town Supervisor proposed the construction of a storm water retention pond near his residence in retaliation for the plaintiff’s report of environmental violations.  Judge Joseph Bianco dismissed the action in its entirety prior to discovery, finding plaintiff’s claims barred by the statute of limitations.

Steven C. Stern drafted the successful motion to dismiss.

JUDGE SCHIENDLIN DISMISSES WRONGFUL DEATH POLICE SHOOTING CASE

In Elias v. Spring Valley, the plaintiff was shot and killed by a police officer while resisting arrest.  The plaintiff’s estate sued, claiming that defendants used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and asserted claims for wrongful death, negligence, and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision.  Judge Shira A. Scheindlin granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment.  Dismissing all claims, Judge Scheindlin held that the officer’s decision to use his firearm did not violate the Fourth Amendment and that that he was entitled to qualified immunity.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff, Susan H. Odessky, and Kevin Levine handled the case and drafted the successful motion.

VILLAGES DEFEAT TRIP AND FALL LAWSUITS

In Horan v. Village of Westbury, plaintiff tripped and fell in a ditch in front of her house.  The next day, the Village began roadwork in the same location.  Although plaintiff admitted she never observed road work prior to her accident, she claimed the Village created the condition that caused her to fall.  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Bruno granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that it did not have prior written notice of the alleged condition and no exception to the prior written notice law applied.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kiera J. Meehan defended the Village and drafted the successful motion.

In Conroy v. Great American “46” Clinton, Inc., plaintiff sued the Village of Farmingdale and various other defendants for personal injuries resulting from a trip and fall accident.  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice James P. McCormack granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Village did not receive prior written notice of the alleged defect and did not perform work at the subject location.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

 

In Hakimian v. Village of Great Neck Plaza, the plaintiff claimed to have slipped and fallen on snow and ice on a village sidewalk.  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Daniel Palmieri granted the village’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the village did not have prior written notice of the condition and that official weather records established the lack of snow or ice in the area at the time of the accident.

 

Steven C. Stern and Stuart Diamond drafted the successful motion.

In Rakowski v. Village of Williston Park, the plaintiff claimed to have tripped and fallen because of a missing segment of concrete from the curb of a village sidewalk.  Justice Arthur M. Diamond granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the village did not have prior written notice of the condition and did not create the condition or make special use of the sidewalk.

 

Steven C. Stern and Stuart Diamond drafted the successful motion.

 

In Twersky v. Village of Great Neck, the plaintiff tripped and fell on a driveway apron adjacent to privately owned property.  Justice Norman Janowitz granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint, specifically holding the Village could not be held liable for the sidewalk’s hazardous condition and that the Village had no obligation to provide additional street lighting where the accident occurred.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg, Kiera J. Meehan, and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

COURT REJECTS DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CLAIM BY INJURED EMPLOYEE

In Tibbetts v. Pelham Union Free School District, plaintiff, a probationary music teacher, was fired amid parental complaints that she was rude and treated her students poorly.  Shortly before she was terminated, she slipped and fell at work.  Plaintiff sued the District alleging her termination violated the New York State Human Rights Law on account of an alleged or perceived disability.  Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Mary H. Smith granted the District’s motion for summary judgment, finding that plaintiff was not disabled or perceived as disabled, and that her termination was not related to her alleged or perceived disability.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Kiera J. Meehan defended the District and wrote the successful motion.

MOLD CLAIM DISMISSED FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH STATUTORY OBLIGATIONS

In Holden v. Town of East Hampton, Sokoloff Stern defended the Town of East Hampton and the East Hampton Housing Authority against negligence claims for alleged mold brought by apartment tenants receiving public housing assistance.  Supreme Court, Suffolk County Justice Joseph C. Pastoressa granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint based on the plaintiff’s failure to comply with conditions precedent to suit.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

COURT DISMISSES CLAIMS AGAINST CORPORATE SHAREHOLDERS

In Pellicano v. Focus Solutions, LLC, Sokoloff Stern represented a technology start-up company against claims for breach of contract and New York Labor Law violations by a former consultant.  Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Emily Pines granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint against the company’s shareholders, finding that the New York Limited Liability Company Law barred the claims against them as individuals.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES EXCESSIVE FORCE CLAIM AGAINST VILLAGE POLICE

In Scott v. Village of Spring Valley, the plaintiff alleged excessive force when police officers temporarily stopped and handcuffed him for driving a stolen van.  Southern District Judge Nelson S. Román denied plaintiff’s motion to name the individual police officers after the statute of limitations expired, agreeing that plaintiff failed to satisfy the requirement of the “relation back” doctrine.  Sokoloff Stern then successfully moved for summary judgment on behalf of the Village.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed on all grounds.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Susan H. Odessky successfully handled the case.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS CLAIM THAT VILLAGE SEARCH OF ABANDONED BUILDING WAS ILLEGAL

In Hausch v. Village of Tuckahoe, plaintiff sued the Village and its officials in federal court, alleging an unlawful search of a building under the Fourth Amendment.  Judge Nelson S. Román granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case, finding that the Village did not violate plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights because it entered the building lawfully under the administrative search exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

WESTCHESTER COURT REJECTS SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION CLAIM IN ARTICLE 78 PROCEEDING

In Americo v. Vaccaro, petitioner brought an Article 78 proceeding in Westchester County against the Town of New Castle, it’s Town Board, and the Commissioner of Public Works, alleging that her termination was arbitrary and capricious, ultra vires and retaliatory based on complains of sexual harassment.  Judge Barbara G. Zambelli granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the allegations were time-barred, Article 78 was not the proper vehicle for her discrimination claims, and petitioner failed to serve a Notice of Claim as required under Town Law § 67.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kaitlyn R. McKenna defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL JURY REJECTS PREGNANT TEACHER’S FAILURE TO HIRE CLAIM

In Cooper v. Huntington Union Free School District, a job applicant brought a federal discrimination lawsuit against the school district, claiming that she was denied a leave replacement position on account of her pregnancy.  Following a three-day trial before the Honorable Leonard D. Wexler, the jury found in the District’s favor.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman successfully defended the District at trial.

JUDGE WEXLER DISMISSES EQUAL PROTECTION CLAIMS BY RESTAURANT THAT RECEIVED SUMMONSES FOR TOWN CODE VIOLATIONS

In 4 West Associates LLC v. East Hampton Town, plaintiff corporation brought a federal suit in the Eastern District of New York against the Town of East Hampton alleging that the Town selectively applied the Town Code and violated the corporation’s right to equal protection.  Judge Leonard D. Wexler granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds.

Steven C. Stern,  and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

COURT DISMISSES CONTRACT CLAIM AGAINST HOUSING AUTHORITY

In J&E Industries of Ossining, Inc. v. Peekskill Housing Authority, plaintiff sued the Housing Authority for breach of contract based on alleged repair work at a housing project.  Supreme Court Justice William J. Giacomo granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case, which was affirmed on appeal.  The court found that despite the plain language of the Public Housing Authorities Law, plaintiff was required to serve a notice of claim before commencing an action against the Housing Authority.

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDS DISMISSAL OF LANDOWNER’S UNRIPE TAKINGS/DUE PROCESS CLAIMS

In Dreher v. Town of Kent, plaintiff was a landowner who claimed zoning restrictions on his small lot prevented him from selling it, without ever having applied to the Town to build anything.  United States District Judge Cathy Seibel granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss on ripeness grounds, as the Town had never rendered any final decision on the property.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Anthony F. Cardoso drafted the successful motion to dismiss and subsequent successful appellate briefing.

APPELLATE DIVISION REVERSES TRIAL COURT, DISMISSING SLIP ON ICE CASE AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT

In Shea v. Massapequa Union Free School District, 117 A.D.3d 817, 985 N.Y.S.2d 675 (2nd Dept 2014), the Appellate Division, Second Department dismissed the claim of a plaintiff who claimed to have slipped and fallen on ice on a sidewalk in front of a school, reversing the decision of the trial court.  The Appellate Division’s decision was based on the lack of notice to the school and the storm-in-progress doctrine.

 

Steven C. Stern and Stuart Diamond defendant the school district and drafted the successful motion.

TWO COURTS REJECT CLAIMS BASED ON MAYOR’S REMOVAL OF HOUSING AUTHORITY COMMISSIONERS

In DeCintio v. Village of Tuckahoe, the petitioners alleged they were improperly removed as Commissioners of the Tuckahoe Housing Authority by the Mayor.  Though the Westchester County Supreme Court agreed, the Appellate Division Second Department reversed, holding the controversy moot by expiration of petitioners’ terms of office and finding they were not entitled to a name clearing hearing.  Petitioners then brought a separate lawsuit asserting various state law claims arising from their removals.  The court dismissed the action as time-barred.

Steven Stern successfully defended both actions.

CONVICTION BARS PLAINTIFF’S FALSE ARREST AND MALICIOUS PROSECUTION LAWSUIT

In Magnotta v. Putnam County Sheriff,the plaintiff pro se, who had been convicted of a criminal sex act and a string of burglaries in Putnam and Dutchess counties, sued the Town of Kent police officers in federal court, claiming false arrest and malicious prosecution. Judge George B. Daniels granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the Heck v. Humphrey doctrine barred his claims.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Susan H. Odessky drafted the successful motion.

SECURITY COMPANY DEFEATS COUNTERCLAIMS IN NON-PAYMENT ACTION

In General Security, Inc. v. Ironclad Systems, Inc., Sokoloff Stern represented the plaintiff security systems company that sought payments owed by defendant under a security system monitoring agreement.  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Karen V. Murphy granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss defendant’s counterclaims as time-barred.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kevin Levine drafted the successful motion.

TOWN IN PUTNAM COUNTY WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FEDERAL TASER CASE

In Livulpi v. Town of Kent, the plaintiff was Tasered and arrested after a fight at a local bar.  He sued the Town of Kent and several police officers, claiming excessive force and false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  District Judge Cathy Seibel granted Sokoloff Stern’s summary judgment motion, holding plaintiff failed to show that a Town officer Tasered him, and that statements by witnesses created sufficient probable cause for a lawful arrest.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman successfully defended the case.

LONG ISLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT WINS BLEACHER INJURY CASE

In Porcaro v. Plainedge Union Free School District, the plaintiff claimed to have sustained severe injuries when she fell while descending portable bleachers belonging to the school district.  Justice Denise L. Sher dismissed the action against the school district on the ground that the condition was open and obvious, and not inherently dangerous.  The court also granted the school district summary judgment on its indemnification claim against the co-defendant youth sports league, which had rented the school’s softball field.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Stuart Diamond handled the case and drafted the successful motion.

ARMED ROBBERY VICTIM WINS FALSE ARREST AND MALICIOUS PROSECUTION CASE BROUGHT BY SUSPECT

In Johnson v. City of New York, the plaintiff alleged he was falsely arrested and prosecuted for armed robbery based on a false identification by the victim.  Sokoloff Stern defended the crime victim, whose summary judgment motion was denied by the trial court.  Sokoloff Stern appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department which reversed, finding there was no evidence to support plaintiff’s claims against the civilian witness.

Steven C. Stern successfully defended the crime victim.

NINE YEAR LITIGATION ENDS IN DISMISSAL OF NATIVE AMERICAN FAMILY’S DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT

In J.E. ex rel. Edwards v. Center Moriches Union Free School District,four sibling students were suspended from school for engaging in melee on school grounds.  The four – all African-American/Native Americans who live on an Indian reservation – sued for a host of federal and state discrimination and civil rights claims.  The Honorable Roslyn R. Mauskopf granted defendants’ comprehensive motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case in its entirety.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed, ending nine years of litigation.

 

Steven C. Stern and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motions and appellate brief.

DISMISSAL OF TOW TRUCK OPERATOR’S DUE PROCESS CLAIM AGAINST TOWN AFFIRMED BY U.S. COURT OF APPEALS

In Martine’s Service Center v. Town of Wallkill, plaintiff sued in federal court, alleging, inter alia, violations of procedural due process and equal protection, deriving from the Town’s removal of plaintiff from a list of tow truck operators used by the municipality.  Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision, finding, inter alia, that the existence of a meaningful post-deprivation remedy barred plaintiff’s due process claims.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and David A. Gold drafted the successful motion and appellate brief.

VILLAGE WINS FEDERAL WRONGFUL ENTRY AND SEARCH CASE

In McKay v. Village of Spring Valley, plaintiffs alleged that the Village violated their constitutional rights when one of its officers, along with several agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, wrongfully entered and searched their home.  Judge Cathy Seibel granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, holding that it was reasonable for the Village’s officer to rely on the warrant that the federal agents obtained.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Melissa L. Holtzer defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

PRINCIPAL’S TENURE REVOCATION UPHELD

In Nicolino v. Patchogue-Medford School District, plaintiff was the Principal of one of the District’s elementary schools whose tenure was revoked before its effective date following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.   United States District Judge Joanna Seybert granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, holding the revocation of his tenure did not violate his federal due process rights as he had no protected right to tenure.

 

Steven C. Stern and Anthony F. Cardoso drafted the successful motion to dismiss.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES AGE DISCRIMINATION CONSTRUCTIVE DISCHARGE CASE

In Weinstein v. Garden City Union Free School District, plaintiff, a maintenance supervisor, alleged that the school district discriminated against him on the basis of his age and religion, and forced him to prematurely retire.  In a 62-page decision, Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment.  The Court held that: plaintiff failed to identify any discriminatory pattern or practice by the District; failed to demonstrate that anyone with final decision-making authority discriminated against him; some of plaintiff’s claims were time-barred; and plaintiff voluntarily retired without any adverse employment action against him.

 

Steven C. Stern and Melissa L. Holtzer defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR’S RACE DISCRIMINATION CLAIM DISMISSED

In Edwards v. Huntington UFSD, plaintiff was the District’s Director of Mathematics who claimed race discrimination in connection with a modification of his work assignments.  As part of its the District’s budgetary reductions, plaintiff was assigned to teach two classes in addition to his administrative duties while another administrator was given the responsibility for overseeing technology.  Plaintiff resigned his position and commenced a lawsuit, claiming race discrimination and constructive discharge.  United States District Judge Margo K. Brodie granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was no evidence that plaintiff’s additional assignments related to his race and that his resignation was voluntary and not a constructive discharge.

 

Steven C. Stern and Anthony F. Cardoso successfully defended the school district.

COURT DISMISSES UNTIMELY CLAIM AGAINST VILLAGE

In Boykin v. County of Nassau, plaintiff sued the Village of Farmingdale, alleging that she slipped and fell on defendants’ property.  Justice Antonio I. Brandveen granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, holding that the claim was untimely.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kaitlyn R. McKenna drafted the successful motion.

COURT DISMISSES INJURY CLAIM BASED ON ALLEGED “TRENCH” IN CITY PARK

In Carobene v. City of Glen Cove, plaintiff allegedly sustained personal injuries when she tripped and fell in a “trench” in a City park.  Nassau County, Supreme Court Justice F. Dana Winslow awarded the City summary judgment finding the City did not have actual or constructive notice of the condition.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kiera J. Meehan defended the City and drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL JURY REJECTS POLICE EXCESSIVE FORCE AND DENIAL OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE LAWSUIT

In Meyers v. Village of Spring Valley, plaintiff sued a Village police officer and a Village police Sergeant in federal court, alleging excessive force and the denial of medical assistance.  Following a five day trial before United States District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti, the jury found in the officers’ favor on all claims.

 

Susan H. Odessky and Melissa L. Holtzer successfully defended the officers through trial.

FEDERAL JURY REJECTS SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT

In Mansuetta v. Clarkstown Central School District, plaintiff alleged that she suffered a sexually hostile work environment in the workplace.  Following a four day trial before Judge Vincent L. Briccetti, the jury found in the District’s favor on all claims.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Melissa L. Holtzer successfully defended the District through trial.

SULLIVAN COUNTY COURT DISMISSES CLAIMS AGAINST TOWN RELATING TO FIRE AT CONDOMINIUM COMPLEX

In Ross v. Town of Fallsburg, plaintiffs claimed to have sustained extensive property damage because of a fire at a condominium complex.  Sullivan County Justice Stephan G. Schick granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to comply with the notice of claim requirements, the complaint failed to state a cause of action for negligence, the Town had governmental immunity, and the Town did not owe any special duty to the plaintiffs.

 

Steven C. Stern and Stuart Diamond drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL JUDGE REJECTS ORTHODOX SCHOOL’S ZONING DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS

In Sheri Torah, Inc. v. Village of South Blooming Grove, a religious corporation sued the Village in federal court claiming the Village was using zoning restrictions to prevent it from converting leased property to a private religious school. Southern District Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska granted Sokoloff Stern’s pre-answer motion dismissing the case, holding that the Village was engaging in a legitimate review process, and plaintiff’s religious discrimination claims were not ripe for review.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motion.

JUDGE KARAS DISMISSES CIVIL RICO CLAIMS

In Grim v. Baker, the plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit asserting a civil RICO claim and various other claims alleging fraudulent probate of her mother’s will.  Judge Kenneth Karas dismissed the action in its entirety on the pleadings finding it barred by prior state court judgments and, in any event, failed to state a plausible RICO claim.  The dismissal was upheld on appeal.

Brian S. Sokoloff successfully defended the case.

JUDGE WEXLER DISMISSES VILLAGE RESIDENT’S FEDERAL LAND USE CLAIMS

In Amid v. Vill. of Old Brookville, the plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit asserting numerous federal and state law claims alleging discrimination arising out the Village’s alleged denial of various land use permits.  Judge Leonard Wexler dismissed the action in its entirety prior to discovery, holding that plaintiff failed to allege any plausible constitutional violations.

Steven Stern drafted the successful pre-answer motion to dismiss.

REVOCATION OF ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT’S TENURE UPHELD BY STATE SUPREME COURT

In Camhi v. Glen Cove City School District, an Assistant Superintendent sued the school district and its board members asserting various claims in connection with the revocation of her tenure.  Initially, Sokoloff Stern removed the case to federal court, where is successfully argued for the dismissal of plaintiff’s federal due process claims before District Judge Arthur D. Spatt.  Then, in a case of first impression, Nassau County Justice Norman Janowitz granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the remaining claims.  Justice Janowitz agreed that the original grant of tenure was illegal and ultra vires and therefore void, as the Education Law does not permit city school districts to grant tenure to assistant superintendents.

 

Steven C. Stern drafted the successful motions to dismiss.

APPELLATE DIVISION DISMISSES FLOODING CLAIM AGAINST MUNICIPALITY

In Tully v. City of Glen Cove, plaintiff sued alleging, inter alia, that the City was negligent in its design, installation and maintenance of its drainage system causing significant flooding damage to his property.  After Nassau County Justice Jaeger denied the City’s motion for summary judgment, we immediately appealed.  The Appellate Division, Second Department reversed and dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds.  Plaintiff then sought leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, which was denied.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kiera J. Meehan defended the City and wrote the successful appellate brief.  Anthony Cardoso argued the brief before the Appellate Division.

COURT FINDS NO NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION IN CONNECTION WITH LOCKER ROOM FIGHT

In Shelters v. Massapequa Union Free School District, plaintiff, a high school student, was involved in a physical altercation with another student in the boys’ locker room.  Plaintiff alleged that the District provided inadequate supervision in the locker room.  Justice Thomas P. Phelan granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the District did not negligently supervise its students.

 

Steven C. Stern and Melissa L. Holtzer drafted the successful motion.

DECEASED FIREFIGHTER COMMEMORATED ON FALLEN FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL

In Brady v. NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the State refused to commemorate deceased Village of Malverne firefighter Paul Brady on the NYS Fallen Firefighters Memorial.  The State claimed Firefighter Brady, who was tragically killed during training exercises, did not perish in the “line of duty.”  While the Nassau County Justice Michelle M. Woodard sided with the State, the Appellate Division, Second Department reversed, finding Firefighter Brady did in fact perish in the “line of duty” and ordered his name to be inscribed on the memorial.  In October 2012, Firefighter Brady’s name was inscribed on the NYS Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial alongside his fallen comrades at a ceremony with his friends and family in attendance.

Adam Kleinberg successfully fought for Firefighter Brady in this matter.

DECEASED FIREFIGHTER COMMEMORATED ON FALLEN FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL

In Brady v. NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the State refused to commemorate deceased Village of Malverne firefighter Paul Brady on the NYS Fallen Firefighters Memorial.  The State claimed Firefighter Brady, who was tragically killed during training exercises, did not perish in the “line of duty.”  While the Nassau County Justice Michelle M. Woodard sided with the State, the Appellate Division, Second Department reversed, finding Firefighter Brady did in fact perish in the “line of duty” and ordered his name to be inscribed on the memorial.  In October 2012, Firefighter Brady’s name was inscribed on the NYS Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial alongside his fallen comrades at a ceremony with his friends and family in attendance.

Adam Kleinberg successfully fought for Firefighter Brady in this matter.

FEDERAL COURT FINDS PROBABLE CAUSE FOR ARREST IN NEIGHBOR DISPUTE

In Curanaj v. Cordone, the plaintiff brought a federal lawsuit against the Town of Yorktown and its police officers, alleging he was falsely arrested and prosecuted after a dispute with his neighbor.  Judge Edgardo Ramos dismissed the case mid-discovery on Sokoloff Stern’s motion, finding that plaintiff’s allegations demonstrated the officers had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff who had waived an axe at his neighbor during the argument.

Brian Sokoloff defended the case, and drafted the successful motion.

COURT FINDS DETENTION OF PLAINTIFF FOR QUESTIONING WAS “EMINENTLY REASONABLE”

In Huger v. Village of Spring Valley, plaintiff alleged that the Village, its police department, and one of its detectives violated his constitutional rights when the detective detained and questioned him regarding his suspected involvement in an armed robbery.  Judge Cathy Seibel granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the detention of plaintiff was “eminently reasonable.”

 

Steven C. Stern, Adam I. Kleinberg, and Melissa L. Holtzer drafted the successful motion.

COURT DISMISSES HUMAN RIGHTS LAW DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

In Romero v. Westco F.G. Corp., Sokoloff Stern successfully defended a construction company against a suit by a former welder, claiming that the company violated the NYS Human Rights Law by terminating him after he requested a reasonable accommodation. Justice Leon Ruchelsman granted Sokoloff Stern’s summary judgment motion, holding that plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination and plaintiff’s abusive conduct presented a non-discriminatory reason for his termination.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Susan H. Odessky successfully defended the case.

FEDERAL COURT REJECTS TEACHER’S FIRST AMENDMENT RETALIATION CLAIM

In Malgieri v. Ehrenberg, plaintiff teacher sued a school board member in federal court, alleging, inter alia, retaliation for speaking out school board meetings in violation of his First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiff failed to show she suffered any adverse employment action or that any alleged adverse actions were causally related to her speech.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and David A. Gold drafted the successful motion to dismiss.

COURT REJECTS DEFAMATION CASE AGAINST SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

In Peterson v. Mustich, plaintiff alleged defendant Mustich defamed him by falsely asserting plaintiff had been institutionalized in a psychiatric facility. Westchester County, Supreme Court Justice Bruce E. Tolbert dismissed case, stating that evidence to support plaintiff’s claims was “non-existent.” Justice Tolbert noted it was “remarkable” that defendants had “clearly substantiated that the Complaint is based upon Plaintiff’s own inferences and assumptions.”

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Kiera J. Meehan defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

COURT REJECTS DEFAMATION CASE AGAINST SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

In Robinson, III v. Town of Kent, plaintiff sued the Town and several Town officials, claiming that his due process and First Amendment rights were violated when he was prosecuted for harassment – a charge leveled by his brother. The Honorable Edgardo Ramos granted defendants’ motion to dismiss and dismissed the case in its entirety.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motion.

COURT DISMISSES BULLYING CLAIM AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT

In HB v. Monroe Woodbury Central School District, a high school student and her parents brought a federal race and gender discrimination lawsuit, claiming the District did not adequately protect the student from peer bullying in school and on Facebook. The Court granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, holding that plaintiff did not show that bullies targeted her because of her race or gender, or that the District was deliberately indifferent to the bullying.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT REJECTS AGE DISCRIMINATION CHALLENGE TO TEACHER RETIREMENT INCENTIVE

In twin cases Abramson and Pine v. Middle Country CSD and Loucks v. Middle Country CSD, plaintiffs were retirees who had opted out of a collectively bargained retirement incentive. They claimed that the incentive, which provided for lifetime medical benefits for retirees who retired by a certain age, discriminated against them under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the case on statute of limitations grounds. Specifically, Judge Feuerstein held that, unlike a discriminatory pay scheme, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act does not reset the statute of limitations each time retirees make a payment towards their health benefits. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed on other grounds, holding that the retirement incentive plan was “consistent with the ADEA” and therefore did not discriminate against the retirees on account of their age.

 

Steven C. Stern and Adam I. Kleinberg drafted the successful motion.

DEFENSE VERDICT IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST POLICE OFFICERS

In Tribie v. Village of Spring Valley, the plaintiff brought a federal lawsuit against two Village police officers, alleging false arrest, excessive force, and a violation of due process. Following a four day trial before the Honorable Vincent L. Briccetti, the jury found in the officers’ favor on all claims.

 

Susan Odessky and Anthony F. Cardoso successfully defended the police officers at trial.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES TEACHER’S FIRST AMENDMENT LAWSUIT

In Kelly v. Huntington UFSD, plaintiff pulled and gathered elementary students from their classes to suggest that they tell their parents to complain to the Board of Education about the downsizing of a gifted program.  After she was charged with misconduct, she filed suit in federal court alleging a violation of her First Amendment rights.  Eastern District Judge Joseph F. Bianco granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, finding that plaintiff’s discussion with the students was not protected by the First Amendment.

Steven C. Stern drafted the successful motion for summary judgment.

COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF FIRST AMENDMENT LAWSUIT

In Cuff v. Valley Central School District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a First Amendment lawsuit.  A student and his parents challenged discipline imposed by the school district after the student wrote on a school project that he wished to “blow up the school with the teachers in it.”  The Second Circuit determined that school administrators are entitled to great deference in their decision-making and that the student’s writing presented a substantial risk of material disruption  to the school.  The decision received widespread media attention, and was featured on the front page of the New York Law Journal.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman successfully handled the appeal.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION LAWSUIT

In Valenti v. Massapequa UFSD, plaintiff, a male special education teacher, alleged a pattern of gender-based discrimination and retaliation based on his having filed prior complaints of discrimination.  Eastern District Judge Joseph F. Bianco granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, finding insufficient evidence to sustain plaintiff’s claims that he was subjected to disparate treatment or adverse employment actions.

 

Steven C. Stern and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FEDERAL LAWSUIT ALLEGING IMPROPER CONDUCT BY POLICE OFFICER

In Longinott v. Town of Newburgh, plaintiff alleged that a Town police officer harassed her in retaliation for filing a criminal complaint against the police officer’s wife.  Judge Vincent L. Briccetti of the Southern District of New York granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint, finding plaintiff’s allegations of illegal search and seizure and retaliation insufficient to state a claim.

Adam I. Kleinberg drafted the successful motion.

NEW YORK SUPREME COURT DISMISSES DEFAMATION LAWSUIT

In Brzeski v. Rockville Centre UFSD, a teacher sued for defamation after a school district administrator sent a letter to parents regarding an allegation of testing irregularities in the classroom.  Justice Thomas Feinman granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, finding that the allegedly defamatory statement was subject to a qualified privilege and that truth was an absolute defense.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Kiera J. Meehan defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

LOCAL BUILDER’S CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIM DISMISSED BY APPELLATE DIVISION

In Zarabi v. Village of Roslyn Harbor, plaintiff alleged that the Village and its Building Inspector harassed him through multiple inspections and the delay of approvals on a house he built in the Village.  He alleged due process violations, equal protection violations based on national origin discrimination, and that the Building Inspector conspired with the architect on the project.  After eight years of litigation, Sokoloff Stern secured summary judgment for the Village and the Building Inspector,which the Appellate Division affirmed.

Steven C. Stern successfully defended the case.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES LAWSUIT ALLEGING A FALSE REPORT OF CHILD NEGLECT

In McCaul v. Ardsley UFSD, a parent alleged that school district staff members provided false information to New York State Child Protective Services, which then brought a proceeding against the parent for child abuse and neglect.  Following the dismissal of a Family Court petition, the parent sued the school district and several of its staff members.  Judge Vincent L. Briccetti of the Southern District of New York granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss, finding that there was no deprivation of custody to support the parent’s due process claims.

Adam I. Kleinberg defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FIRST AMENDMENT ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE CASE AGAINST VILLAGE OF KIRYAS JOEL AND ITS OFFICIALS

In 1977, the Village of Kiryas Joel was incorporated in Orange County, New York. Since its incorporation, the Village has become home to a large number of Hasidic Jews. In Kiryas Joel Alliance v. Village of Kiryas Joel, plaintiffs, a group of Satmar Hasidic Jews, got national media coverage when they brought a federal case under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause alleging that the Village is run by the majority faction of Hasidic Jews as a “theocracy.” Plaintiffs sought, among other things, to have the court dissolve the Village. Sokoloff Stern, representing the Mayor and Trustees of the Village, filed a pre-answer motion to dismiss along with all defendants. Southern District Judge Jed S. Rakoff granted the motions on a variety of grounds, including lack of standing, statute of limitations, and res judicata.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motion.

PRINCIPAL’S GENDER DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT DISMISSED

In Avella v. Valley Central School District, a former principal alleged that the school district terminated her on account her gender in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Southern District Judge Paul A. Crotty granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing plaintiff’s federal claim against the district and its superintendent. The Court found that plaintiff could not overcome “a record replete with legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons” for the termination.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg, Kiera Meehan, and Anthony F. Cardoso successfully defended the case.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF FIRST AMENDMENT TEXAS HOLD’EM TOURNAMENT CASE

In A.K. Tournament Play v. Town of Wallkill, plaintiffs claimed that their “not-for-profit” Texas Hold’em poker tournament club was entitled to the First Amendment protections of freedom of expression and association. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case, determining that engaging in social gambling, even if legal, is not protected by the Constitution. Read the story in the Wall Street Journal

 

Steven C. Stern and Leo Dorfman defended the Town and its public officials and drafted the successful motion.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO SCHOOL DISTRICT IN AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT CASE

In Pinto v. Massapequa Public Schools, plaintiff, an elderly woman with osteopenia, tripped outside of a school after voting in a general election. She alleged claims for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and general negligence. Eastern District Judge Leonard D. Wexler granted summary judgment, agreeing that plaintiff was not a “qualified individual with a disability” to place her within the protections of the ADA.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kiera J. Meehan defended the school district and drafted the successful motion.

TEACHER’S HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT LAWSUIT DISMISSED

In Alexander v. Westbury Union Free School District, a teacher alleged hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliation. In a 48-page decision, Eastern District Magistrate Judge William D. Wall granted Sokoloff Stern’s summary judgment motion, dismissing all of plaintiff’s claims against the school district and its administrators. The Court determined that the school district exercised reasonable care to promptly address plaintiff’s reported concerns. The Court also found that the school district had not taken any adverse employment action against plaintiff that would support a retaliation claim.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Melissa Holtzer defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO MUNICIPALITY IN DRAMSHOP VEHICULAR ASSAULT

In Basdavanos v. City of Glen Cove, and Granger v. City of Glen Cove, plaintiffs were severely injured when they were struck by a motor vehicle in the parking lot of the Soundview Café. The driver of the vehicle, who was intoxicated and under the legal drinking age, had been removed from the Café by the bouncer, plaintiff Basdavanos. The City of Glen Cove owned the premises and leased the restaurant to a private operator. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Joel K. Asarch granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing plaintiff’s claims based upon violations of New York’s Dram Shop Act and allegations of negligent maintenance of the parking lot.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kiera J. Meehan defended the municipality and drafted the successful motion.

RACIALLY CHARGED WRONGFUL DEATH FEDERAL LAWSUIT DISMISSED

In Almonte v. Village of Patchogue, et. al., the estate of an Hispanic man who died from injuries sustained as a result of a racially-based assault by a group of teenagers sued the Village and other municipal entities. The estate alleged that the municipalities were indifferent to racial tensions in the community in violation of the decedent’s due process rights. The lawsuit sought more than $30 million in damages.

Eastern District Judge Leonard D. Wexler granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion to dismiss the complaint on behalf of the Village of Patchogue. The Court agreed that the Constitution does not impose a duty on a municipality to protect individuals from the infliction of private harm and that plaintiff did not sufficiently allege the existence of a “special relationship” or “state created danger” to permit an exception to this general rule.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman defended the Village and drafted the successful motion.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO MUNICIPALITY IN TRIP AND FALL ON PAVING DEBRIS

In Ruggiero v. City of Glen Cove, plaintiff claimed to have tripped over an eight foot pile of hardened asphalt, which he claimed had been left in the street after the road in front of his house was re-paved. He claimed to have sustained severe injuries to his cervical spine, requiring multiple surgeries. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Randy Sue Marber granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion, agreeing that plaintiff was not entitled to an exception to the prior written notice law because the contractor, and not the City, created the alleged condition.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kiera J. Meehan defended the municipality and drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES IMPROPER SEARCH CLAIM

In Ford v. Village of Spring Valley, plaintiff alleged that the search of her apartment in connection with an arrest warrant for plaintiff’s son violated her Fourth Amendment rights. Southern District Judge Cathy Seibel granted Sokoloff Stern’s summary judgment motion, finding that the search was conducted in a proper manner and the police officer was entitled to qualified immunity, as there was a reasonable belief that the suspect was present in plaintiff’s apartment.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Leo Dorfman drafted the successful motion.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO MUNICIPALITY IN TRIP AND FALL OVER SNOW-COVERED TREE STUMP

In Landron v. City of Glen Cove, plaintiff sought to recover damages for personal injuries she sustained when she tripped over a tree stump protruding from the grassy area next to a sidewalk near a municipal parking lot. Plaintiff claimed that she failed to see the tree stump because the grassy area was covered with two inches of snow. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Anthony J. Parga granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the City did not have prior written notice of the alleged defect and did not cause or create the allegedly dangerous condition.

 

Steven C. Stern and Kiera J. Meehan defended the municipality and drafted the successful motion.

FEES AWARDED TO DEFENDANTS IN FRIVOLOUS FALSE ARREST CASE

In McGuire v. Village of Tarrytown, a former New York City Police Officer brought a federal lawsuit against the Village of Tarrytown and various Village police officers.  Several of the police officers had responded to a call of a dispute between plaintiff and his neighbor regarding the storage of trash in a common area.  Later that same day, the neighbor provided a sworn statement attesting that plaintiff had brandished a weapon while threatening to harm him.  Plaintiff alleged that he was falsely arrested and claimed violations of his rights under the First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Judge Kevin T. Duffy granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint.  In reviewing the record in connection with the motion, Judge Duffy found that plaintiff lacked a reasonable factual basis to have pursued the legal claims asserted.  Accordingly, he determined that plaintiff should pay defendants’ attorneys’ fees and costs.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Anthony F. Cardoso drafted the successful motion.

DEFENSE VERDICT IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT

In Anderson v. Darden, a former Village of Spring Valley Section 8 Housing Director brought a federal lawsuit against the Village and its former Mayor.  According to the plaintiff, the Mayor repeatedly sexually harassed her over a seven year period.  The Mayor denied the allegations.

Following a four day trial before the Honorable George A. Yanthis, the jury unanimously found in favor of defendants, the Village and the Mayor.  Sokoloff Stern pursued costs against plaintiff, which the Court awarded to defendants.

 

Brian S. Sokoloff and Adam I. Kleinberg successfully represented the defendants at trial.  Kiera J. Meehan assisted with trial strategy and pre-trial discovery relied upon at trial.

DEFENSE VERDICT IN EXCESSIVE FORCE LAWSUIT

In Jackson v. City of Middletown, an arrestee brought a federal lawsuit against the City of Middletown and its police department.   According to plaintiff, the police officers falsely arrested him and utilized excessive force by hitting him with a flashlight during the course of the arrest.

Sokoloff Stern sought, and defendants were granted, summary judgment on all of plaintiff’s claims except for plaintiff’s state law claim for assault and battery.  Following a four day trial before the Honorable Lisa Margaret Smith, the jury unanimously found in favor of defendants on the assault and battery claim.

 

Steven C. Stern and Anthony F. Cardoso successfully represented the City of Middletown at trial.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO SCHOOL OFFICIALS IN FALSE ARREST LAWSUIT

In Castro v. County of Nassau, et al., plaintiff was a former school security guard who was arrested and then acquitted of calling in a false bomb threat to the school at which he worked.  He sued several officials and employees of the Great Neck Union Free School District, claiming, inter alia, that they conspired to have him falsely arrested and retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights.  Judge Joseph F. Bianco granted the school district defendants’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing all claims against them.

 

Steven C. Stern and Melissa Holtzer drafted the successful motion for summary judgment.

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT GRANTS TOWN OF EASTCHESTER SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FIRST AMENDMENT RETALIATION CLAIM

In Bonhag v. Colavita, et al., a case of local notoriety, the Town brought disciplinary charges against deceased Eastchester Superintendent of Highways Peter Bonhag as a result of his involvement in a “fields for fill” contract.  A  contractor agreed to refurbish a Town-run athletic field in exchange for permission to dump “clean fill” on the field as part of the job.  When the Town learned that the contractor actually deposited toxic fill on the athletic field, the Town held Bonhag responsible for improper supervision of the job, and commenced disciplinary charges against Bonhag.  In a separate manpower restructuring, the Town also reduced the job of Highway Superintendent to part time.  Bonhag died at the end of the hearing, and his wife sued, claiming that the disciplinary charges and job reduction were retaliation for Bonhag’s support for the losing Supervisor candidate in the last election.  Visiting Federal Judge Warren Eginton granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action on the ground that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on her claims.

Brian S. Sokoloff drafted the successful motion.

ORANGE COUNTY STATE COURT GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO FORMER BUILDING INSPECTOR

In Pasquini v. Sutton, plaintiffs purchased a house in the Town of Greenville for the purpose of renting it to third parties.  After they were cited for numerous fire code violations, they claimed that the sellers of the house conspired with the Town’s former Building Inspector to defraud them into believing that the house was free of violations at the time of the sale.  Sokoloff Stern represented the former Building Inspector and, following discovery, moved for summary judgment on various grounds.

Justice Elaine Slobod granted the motion, finding that the Building Inspector was entitled to the benefits of the shortened municipal statute of limitations because he had acted within the scope of his official duties and, in any event, that the record was devoid of evidence of a conspiracy.

 

Steven Stern and Melissa Holtzer drafted the successful motion.

STATE COURT DISMISSES ATTEMPT TO FORCE THE TOWN OF CARMEL TO REPAIR AND IMPROVE A SET OF PRIVATE ROADS

In Long Pond Association, Inc. v. Town of Carmel, a homeowners’ association sued the Town of Carmel, seeking a determination that the Town was obligated to maintain and repair a number of privately owned roads.  The homeowners claimed that the Town’s Highway Department performed snow plowing and other maintenance over the preceding ten years and that the Town had accordingly adopted the roads as public roads.

Justice Francis A. Nikolai of the Putnam County Supreme Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that the Town had performed limited services to the roads for emergency purposes only.  The Court adopted our argument that the Town had not treated the roads as its own, as the limited services performed paled in comparison to those afforded to Town roads.  The Court also held that the homeowners could not show that the Town had used the roads as public roads over a ten-year period and dismissed the entire lawsuit.

Adam I. Kleinberg defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

STATE COURT DENIES ATTEMPT TO BRING A MUNICIPAL OFFICIAL INTO A PRIVATE REAL PROPERTY DISPUTE

In Spinelli v. Ivezaj, the original plaintiffs sold real property to the defendants in exchange for a small down payment and a purchase money mortgage for the remainder of the sale price.  After the defendants defaulted on the mortgage, the plaintiffs brought suit to foreclose.  The defendants proceeded to bring a second action, alleging they were fraudulently induced into purchasing the property, also claiming that the Town of North Castle’s Director of Planning made certain fraudulent representations concerning permitted commercial uses of the property.  Sokoloff Stern represented the Director of Planning, and made an early motion to dismiss on the basis that the alleged reliance by plaintiffs was unreasonable as a matter of law.

Justice Gerald E. Loehr of the Westchester County Supreme Court agreed that the alleged reliance was unreasonable, as the relevant zoning information was available to the public, and that the Director of Planning was absolutely immune from tort liability.  Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Director of Planning from the case.

 

Brian Sokoloff and Adam Kleinberg defended the case and drafted the successful motion.

STATE COURT DISMISSES WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST TOWN SUPERVISOR

In Brichta v. Town of Patterson, plaintiff alleged that she was improperly terminated from employment with the Town, suing the Town and various officials.  The complaint was reminiscent of a tabloid magazine story, making scandalous allegations about Town officials and employees.

Justice Francis A. Nikolai of the Putnam County Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss the action against Sokoloff Stern’s client, the Town Supervisor, agreeing that plaintiff was an at-will employee without civil service protection; that none of plaintiff’s salacious allegations could form the basis for a whistleblower retaliation claim; and that plaintiff’s claim for unpaid benefits was not recoverable from the Supervisor.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg and Melissa L. Holtzer drafted the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES FAIR HOUSING ACT LAWSUIT AGAINST TOWN OF MOUNT PLEASANT

In Raum v. Town of Mount Pleasant, plaintiffs were homeowners who alleged that the Town violated the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by issuing notices of violation to discourage persons with disabilities from using their property as a group home.  Judge Stephen C. Robinson of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the Town’s pre-answer motion to dismiss.  Judge Robinson agreed with defendants’ arguments that plaintiffs did not properly allege any cognizable injury under any of the statutes invoked by plaintiffs, and that plaintiffs did not properly allege the Town’s causation for their injuries.  Brian S. Sokoloff and Leo Dorfman wrote and orally argued the successful motion.

SECOND CIRCUIT AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF CUSTODIAN’S RACE, NATIONAL ORIGIN AND DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS

In  Agostinello v. Great Neck Union Free School District, a former janitor for the school district alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York State Human Rights Law. The Second Circuit panel agreed that the school district presented sufficient evidence to dismiss the lawsuit prior to trial, holding that plaintiff failed to rebut the district’s showing that it did not promote plaintiff because of his improper behavior, poor judgment, and deficient interpersonal relationships.  The court additionally held that plaintiff could not substantiate either his hostile work environment or retaliation claim.

 

Adam I. Kleinberg handled the appeal, as well as the successful motion before the lower court.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES ALL CLAIMS BY POLICE OFFICER AGAINST VILLAGE OF SOUTHAMPTON

In Platt v. Village of Southampton, plaintiff, a former police officer who asserted a host of claims against the Village, its Mayor, Board of Trustees and Chief of Police, alleged that they retaliated against him under the First Amendment for protected speech, violated his rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and discriminated against him under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII, and the New York State Human Rights Law. Sokoloff Stern LLP immediately moved to dismiss the complaint prior to discovery, and the case was dismissed in its entirety.

 

Steven C. Stern wrote the successful motion.  Read the story in the Southampton Press

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES EQUAL PROTECTION AND DUE PROCESS CLAIMS PRE-DISCOVERY

In Puckett v. City of Glen Cove, 631 F.Supp.2d 226 (E.D.N.Y. 2009), plaintiff asserted that the City of Glen Cove violated its own laws when it granted a building permit to a private builder who built a so-called “McMansion” that blocked her view of the harbor.  In rejecting plaintiff’s Due Process and Equal Protection claims, the Honorable Judge Leonard D. Wexler determined that plaintiff was not treated differently than any similarly-situated homeowners and that she was not deprived of any cognizable property or liberty interest.  While plaintiff was permitted to proceed with discovery only based on her First Amendment claim, the Court noted, “The facts alleged … tend to show that Plaintiff was afforded extraordinary access to public officials in stating her position.”  Following the decision, the plaintiff voluntarily withdrew the case, with prejudice.

 

Steven Stern and Kiera Meehan wrote the successful motion.

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES GENDER DISCRIMINATION CLAIM AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT

In Ragusa v. Malverne UFSD et al., a former school teacher moved for reconsideration of the dismissal of her gender discrimination claims against the school district, and claimed to have new evidence that supported her claims.  Sokoloff Stern LLP opposed this motion, arguing that the “new evidence” still did not support plaintiff’s claims of discrimination.  In a 16-page decision, Judge Denis R. Hurley adhered to the Court’s original determination, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support an inference of discrimination.

 

Brian Sokoloff and Melissa Holtzer penned the winning motion.

COURT GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN COMPLICATED LAND USE CASE

In Osborne v. Fernandez, et al., 2009 WL 884697 (S.D.N.Y. 2009), a complicated land use case defended by Sokoloff Stern LLP, Judge Cathy Seibel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment.  Plaintiffs attempted to develop over a hundred acres of property in the Town of Stanford in Dutchess County, New York, asserting a variety of federal constitutional and state law claims.  In the course of granting summary judgment for defendants, Judge Seibel added her own opinion to a 75-page, meticulously reasoned Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision.

DEFENDANTS SECURE DISMISSAL OF PUBLICITY-RICH CASE BY WESTCHESTER DEVELOPER

In Old St. George’s LLP v. Bianco, et al., a case that was commenced with screaming headlines, Sokoloff Stern LLP, representing Yorktown Town Councilman Nicholas Bianco, secured dismissal of the action. Plaintiffs sought to convert an old church into a winery and alleged that defendants violated their constitutional rights by interfering with Westchester County’s plan to include the property in a state-law Agricultural District.  Writing a thorough opinion on defendants’ motion, Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, dismissed plaintiffs’ claims seriatim. In an opinion reported at 2010 WL 2982961, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal.

VILLAGE ATTORNEY DISMISSED FROM MALICIOUS PROSECUTION SUIT

In Wilner v. Village of Roslyn, et al., a novel case stemming from the prosecution of Building Code violations, Sokoloff Stern LLP moved to dismiss John Gibbons, the Village Prosecutor, from the suit based on prosecutorial immunity.  Plaintiffs argued that Gibbons’ role as Village Attorney stripped him of his immunity. The case was reported on the first page of the New York Law Journal.  Plaintiffs will not appeal.