Recent Cases

 

SOKOLOFF STERN WINS FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS TRIAL FOR OLD BROOKVILLE POLICE OFFICERS

In Amid v. Lamb, the plaintiff alleged Fourth Amendment claims for false arrest, unlawful search of her home, and excessive force against three Village of Old Brookville police officers who brought her to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation after she called a Mortgage Crisis Hotline threatening suicide and then wielded a kitchen knife in the officers’ presence. Mark Radi and Steven Stern tried the case before Judge Leonard D. Wexler in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The jury returned a swift verdict in favor of the defendants on all claims.


TOWN DEFEATS CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIMS BY MONTAUK BAR

In Doscher v. Town of East Hampton, the owner of a nightclub in Montauk called The Sloppy Tuna alleged violations of due process, equal protection, and the First Amendment from the Town’s reduction of the bar’s maximum occupancy under the fire code, and its issuance of summonses for maximum occupancy and noise violations. United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein dismissed the action in its entirety, holding that plaintiff lacked a protected property right in an operating permit or a specific maximum occupancy, plaintiff’s business and social relationships are not subject to constitutional protection, and the noise ordinance was constitutional.

Mark A. Radi drafted the successful motion.


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 and Mark A. Radi 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 and Mark A. Radi 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.


FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS PREMISED ON DENIAL OF SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
In LK v. Sewanhaka Central High School District, two sibling student plaintiffs and their mother brought a federal lawsuit against the school district and a number of school officials, alleging a host of federal claims in connection with their claim they were denied special education services for their chronic fatigue syndrome.  Judge Hurley granted Sokoloff Stern’s motion in its entirety, finding that plaintiffs’ claims were either time-barred or subject to exhaustion under state administrative procedures.

Mark Radi and Steven Stern drafted the successful motion to dismiss.


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 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.


STATE COURT DISMISSES FALSE ARREST AND MALICIOUS PROSECUTION 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.


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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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, Mark A. Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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, the 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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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.


FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES CLAIMS AGAINST TOWN OFFICIALS RELATING TO HARASSMENT PROSECUTION
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 DENIES REQUEST FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
In K.F. v. Monroe Woodbury Central School District, a student and her parents filed a peer harassment lawsuit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. They simultaneously filed an order to show cause before Judge Edgardo Ramos, asking the federal court to require the immediate placement of the student in another local public school district. After briefing and a lengthy oral argument that the court convened to consider the issue, Judge Ramos denied the motion, finding both that plaintiffs’ claim of irreparable harm was speculative and that they had not established a likelihood of success on the merits.

Mark A. Radi drafted and successfully argued the motion.


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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark A. Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark Radi 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 and Mark A. Radi 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 and Mark A. Radi 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.