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Catherine Z. O’Brien Joins Meyer Suozzi’s Real Estate Practice

September 16, 2019 (Garden City, N.Y.) – Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to announce that Catherine Z. O’Brien has joined the firm as Of Counsel in the Real Estate Department in the firm’s Garden City office.

Ms. O’Brien’s practice focuses on commercial real estate matters, including representation of landlords and tenants in a variety of lease transaction, real estate acquisitions and construction loans.  In addition, she has represented national wireless communications carriers in connection with lease and licensing transactions in New York City and surrounding areas.

“Catherine will be a valuable addition to our team,” said Alexander Berger, Chair of the Real Estate Law practice at Meyer Suozzi.“Her arrival reflects the firm’s continuing commitment to providing top quality services to its clients, and we look forward to her contributions.”

Before joining Meyer Suozzi, Ms. O’Brien was associated with two Long Island-based law firms in an Of Counsel capacity, where she advised clients in commercial leasing, real estate acquisitions, construction loans and general corporate representation.

Ms. O’Brien received her J.D., with honors from St. John’s University School of Law in 1992. She was also on the Editorial Staff, St. John’s Law Review. She received her B.A., from the University of Virginia in 1987.

Ms. O’Brien is a resident of Glen Head, New York.


Ten Meyer Suozzi Attorneys Selected to New York Super Lawyers List

Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to share that ten of our attorneys have been named as 2019 New York Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters rating service, includes outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The publication recognizes no more than 5 percent of the lawyers in each state while no more than 2.5 percent are named to Rising Stars. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

Michael J. Antongiovanni  Business Litigation Donnalynn Darling  Personal Injury: Plaintiff
James D. Garbus – Business/Corporate A. Thomas Levin – State/Local/Municipal
Edward J. LoBello – Bankruptcy: Business Matthew A. Marcucci – General Litigation
Paul F. Millus – Employment Litigation: Defense Daniel B. Rinaldi – Business Litigation
Kevin Schlosser – Business Litigation Andrew J. Turro – Animal Law

 

About Meyer Suozzi

Founded in 1960, Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is a distinguished provider of legal services, with a reputation for integrity, insight and excellent client service. The firm’s attorneys are committed to their clients, community, public affairs, and diversity. With offices in Garden City, New York City and Washington, D.C., the firm provides legal advice in a wide array practice areas.



Kevin Schlosser Quoted in “Judge allows 2nd gas station to open on Poospatuck reservation”

Judge allows 2nd gas station to open on Poospatuck reservation

By Mark Harrington

Heated competition for discount gasoline may be coming to the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in Mastic after a state Supreme Court judge last week lifted a temporary restraining order that has prevented a Smokes R Us station from opening next to Montauk Native Gas in a long-simmering land dispute.

Danielle Treadwell and her off-reservation backers must wait 10 days and produce a bond to cover costs for restoring the already developed Smokes R Us station and convenience store at the southeast corner of the reservation in the event that she ultimately loses a case brought by the Unkechaug Indian Nation. Some tribal members in court last week said they would work to stop the opening of Smokes R Us.

The nation brought the suit last year alleging Treadwell has no rights to the land, negating a 2013 land grant on property her cousin, Curtis Treadwell, was given the right to three years before.

The Smokes R Us gas station remained locked and closed Friday but Danielle Treadwell’s attorney, Linda Margolin, said it would open soon.

“We didn’t think there was any reason to keep it closed,” Margolin said. “We think the entire lawsuit is about trying to stifle competition on the reservation.”

Next door, the Montauk Native gas station, owned by Andre Hardy, Danielle Treadwell’s cousin, was doing its usual brisk business in discount gasoline, with the price of a gallon of regular gas at $2.39, the cheapest on Long Island, according to Gas Buddy, a search service.

Hardy operates the gas station in conjunction with a smoke shop and convenience store. Danielle Treadwell in 2015 filed a lawsuit against Hardy and Curtis Treadwell, charging that Montauk Native and its aboveground gas tanks were on property she claimed was hers.

“They want half the property and they’re saying my gas station is a nuisance,” Hardy said, denying the claim and adding that he believes Poospatuck Lane can support two stations. (A third smaller gas station operates elsewhere on the 55-acre reservation.) Hardy argued state Supreme Court Judge James Reilly erred when he went beyond the nation’s request to rescind Danielle Treadwell’s land claim given that the Unkechaugs are a state-recognized, sovereign tribe.

Mary Trent, a tribal council member and land trustee of the Unkechaug Nation, was in court last week with a group of tribal members to voice opposition to the new Smokes R Us station, which the nation argued in court papers did not properly bury fuel tanks and poses a health and environmental risk to the tribe. Trent was among trustees who ruled that Danielle Treadwell does not hold title to the land.

“She’s trying to say it’s in her name but it’s not,” she said, adding that Danielle Treadwell’s business partners are not tribal members. “Our land is for native blood-right members only,” she said.

Kevin Schlosser, an attorney at Meyer Suozzi in Garden City who is representing the tribe, said the tribe’s concerns remain despite the judge’s ruling.

Unkechaug Indian Nation members have a “significant concern as to the safety of this operation and the way this gas station was constructed” he said.

Schlosser called the Smokes R Us financial backers “trespassers,” noting that “they’ve been banned from the reservation and now they’re seeking to exploit the economic benefit when they are not blood right members.

Margolin said there was nothing that barred Danielle Treadwell from using outside backers.

“My client’s financial backers do not live on the reservation,” she noted. “I think it’s a smoke and mirrors issue, completely unrelated to whether or not the station is safe. We stand by the fact that the gas station is safe.”

But Curtis Treadwell said the case “is not about the safety of the gas station. It’s about who is the rightful owner of the land,” and he said the tribe decided clearly in 2010 that he was the owner. Beyond that, he said, the judge is “messing with the sovereign rights of a tribe. The whole tribe is up in arms right now.”

 

Click here for the article at Newsday


Hon. Randall Eng Appointed for Commission Examining Judicial, State Salaries in NY

Chief Judge Makes Her Picks for Commission Examining Judicial, State Salaries in NY

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has appointed Michael A. Cardozo and retired Second Department Appellate Division Presiding Justice Randall T. Eng to the commission that makes recommendations for the salaries of judges, legislators and elected officials every four years.

By Susan DeSantis

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has appointed Michael A. Cardozo and retired Appellate Division, Second Department, Presiding Justice Randall T. Eng to the commission that makes recommendations for the salaries of judges, legislators and elected officials every four years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to name his three selections for the commission and the president of the Assembly and the speaker of the Senate have not revealed their appointments. The legislative leaders are allowed to pick one commission member each.

Michael A. Cardozo, who will chair the seven-member commission, is a litigation partner at Proskauer Rose and former New York City corporation counsel. Cardozo served as president of the New York City Bar Association and chair of both the Fund for Modern Courts and the Columbia Law School Board of Visitors.

Eng is of counsel to Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein and a member of its litigation department.  Early in his legal career, Eng was an assistant district attorney in Queens County. He later served as inspector general of the New York City Correction Department.

In 1983, he became the first Asian-American judge in New York State when he was appointed to the New York City Criminal Court bench. He also served as administrative judge of Queens County’s Supreme Court-Criminal Term. He is a former president of the Association of Supreme Court Justices of the City of New York.

 

Click here for the article at New York Law Journal


A. Thomas Levin Featured in “Great Neck Estates goes electronic on paperwork”

The Great Neck Estates village board adopted a law requiring building permit applications to be submitted electronically. (Photo by John Nugent)

 

Article by John Nugent 

The Great Neck Estates Board of Trustees approved a measure to require all building permit applications to be submitted in electronic format at its Monday meeting.

Village Attorney A. Thomas Levin said this new policy would result in greater efficiency and eliminate the accumulation and storage of paper files.

Mayor William Warner said the trustees would seek to require the village zoning board to adopt the same procedure for its records.

The rule will not apply to permit applications for individual homes, according to Levin.

In another matter, the board addressed the issue of the floats on the gangway at the village dock.

The floats are 30 years old, in disrepair and are not being used. They are stored on eight spaces in the parking lot near the dock. The board agreed to dispose of the floats and decided to accept a $500 bid for them that was obtained by the village’s superintendent of public works, Ernest Garvey.

Trustees also decided to proceed with Garvey’s recommendation to accept the John McGowan Company’s $31,600 bid to do concrete repair work on the roads and curbs throughout the village.

Asked about the status of the 5G cellular network implementation that was discussed at the village’s January board meeting, the mayor said nothing new has developed. No cellular network companies have approached the village to offer a proposal since the trustees adopted their policy for the construction of antenna equipment.

 

Click here to view article at The Island Now.


Howard Kleinberg Quoted in Newsday,”Dowling trustees, creditors near settlement of $50M suit”

An entrance to the Dowling College campus in

An entrance to the Dowling College campus in Oakdale in June 2016, the year it closed. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

 

Article by Mark Harrington.

Both sides in a $50 million lawsuit filed against Dowling College trustees and officials by a bankruptcy court trustee have agreed to a settlement in principal that would nix a public airing of the institution’s 2016 bankruptcy and closure.

A letter filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Aug. 1 says the parties “reached a consensual settlement of the action in principal,” paving the way for a potential dismissal.

Any settlement is likely to be confidential. Lawyers for both sides are scheduled to be in court Monday to discuss the case.

Dowling trustees had directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, and so a money settlement, if any, likely would be paid through insurance.

Ronald Friedman, the bankruptcy court trustee for the college’s unsecured creditors, did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

As Newsday reported in July, the trustee filed the lawsuit against 12 former Dowling trustees and two officials, including one-time president and benefactor Scott Rudolph, alleging years of “waste, mismanagement and breach of fiduciary duty.”

Howard Kleinberg, the Garden City-based attorney for the trustees, at the time said the trustees denied the charges and intended to defend against them “vigorously.” Kleinberg on Wednesday declined to comment because of “ongoing settlement discussions.”

In a motion to dismiss the case, filed in bankruptcy court July 15, Kleinberg argued the case should not go forward because two of the claims already exceeded the three-year statute of limitations. The case was filed May 1, but “the vast majority of the plaintiff’s allegations concern events occurring prior to May 2016,” he wrote.

He also asserted that the complaint stops short of accusing the trustees of “bad faith or other facts” sufficient to overcome certain legal protections afforded a corporation’s officers, directors and trustees.

Dowling, which was established in 1968 and had campuses in Oakdale and Shirley, ran into deep financial trouble and in November 2016 filed for bankruptcy court protection. Students and others tied to the institution were stunned by its rapid decline and sudden closure.

The complaint lays out a chronological litany of the board’s alleged missteps, “negligence” and potential conflicts by some tied to its board, while citing a failure by the institution’s outside auditor, KPMG, to flag and report those missteps. KPMG declined to comment.

“Although it was obvious that Dowling could not sustain two campuses,” the suit charges, trustees “never streamlined Dowling’s operations, never underwent any significant self-examination to improve Dowling’s academics or support services, and never directed Dowling’s available resources toward selected programs intended to enhance Dowling’s success ….” They also “accepted the cockeyed optimism of their presidential hires and continued to operate Dowling as if its problems would simply disappear,” according to the suit.

The suit pegs 2006 as the beginning of the end for Dowling, with another round of tax-exempt debt filed to finance expansion of the Shirley campus and its athletic field complex for $4 million. Former Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney was hired as president in October 2006, with $57 million of debt on the books. Ratings downgrades on Wall Street continued.

Michael Puorro, the former chairman of Dowling’s trustees, told Newsday last month that rather than contributing to its downfall, Dowling’s board “did its utmost in efforts in its attempt to save the college.” He called the suit “nothing more than a money reach by certain individuals in the creditor trust.”

 

Click here for original article at Newsday.


Gregg Kligman Quoted In “Dropped from the drug test”

A new law in New York City will prohibit most employers who operate there from conducting pre-employment drug testing for marijuana.

The law was passed last month and will go into effect May 10, 2020.

Certain positions, such as police officers, construction workers, commercial drivers, and workers caring for children or medical patients, among others, were excluded from the law.

About 2.8 percent of workers and job applicants tested positive for marijuana in 2018, according to Quest Diagnostics statistics.

Supporters of the New York City law said it would knock down a barrier that blocks people from employment based on private behavior and not ability to do the job. They also pointed out that marijuana can remain in the system for extended periods of time.

“If you ingest weed in whatever manner a month ago, I’m not sure how that prevents you from doing a job now,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a Democrat who sponsored the proposal, told the New York City Council.

But not everyone agrees. “Private businesses should have the power to determine their own hiring practices – not just in deciding what skills and experience are relevant to certain positions, but also whether the use of a specific drug could have an adverse impact on a perspective employee’s ability to perform,” Council Republican Leader Steven Matteo said in a statement.

While recreational marijuana use is now legal in many states, it is still illegal in New York. But the city’s employment laws are among the nation’s most protective of workers.

“To say New York City is worker-friendly is an understatement,” said Gregg Kligman, an associate in the employment law practice at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein in Garden City.

With the passage of the new law, companies with operations in New York City that have drug testing policies “need to use this grace period before the law takes effect to change their policy or procedure,” said A. Jonathan Trafimow, partner and chair of the employment law practice group at Moritt Hock & Hamroff in Garden City.

Kligman, however, said he is advising clients with offices in New York City to stop testing for marijuana now, rather than waiting for the deadline to take effect. He said it is also likely that similar laws will pop up elsewhere across the state.

Though recreational marijuana use is illegal in New York, the state has a legal medicinal marijuana program, as do most states. Medical marijuana users in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have won lawsuits in recent years against companies that rescinded job offers or fired workers because of positive tests for pot. A number of businesses around the country have simply stopped testing job applicants for marijuana.

“Over the past few years, a number of laws have been passed that require companies to be more careful about what they ask before offering prospects a job,” said Christine Malafi, senior partner and chair of the corporate department at Ronkonkoma-based Campolo, Middleton & McCormick. For instance, laws limiting the use of criminal background checks and prohibiting companies from asking about salary history have gone into effect in various jurisdictions.

“In this environment where unemployment is pretty low and where marijuana is becoming ever more socially acceptable…employers are either philosophically or practically having to take a long, hard look at whether they’re even going to screen for pot,” said Michael Clarkson, a Boston-based employment lawyer who specializes in drug-testing issues.

 

By: Bernadette Starzee

Click here for the article at LIBN.com


Gregg Kligman Quoted in “Getting on board the training train”

By Oct. 9, employers throughout New York State must provide anti-sexual harassment training to all of their employees. But as the deadline looms, many companies have not started the training yet.

“A lot of companies are putting it off until they have to do it,” said Gregg Kligman, an associate in the employment law practice at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein in Garden City. “And some people still don’t know that this law affects everyone.”

Many small businesses don’t have counsel, and they might not be cognizant of all of their responsibilities as an employer, Kligman said.

“Think of all the mom-and-pop businesses that are just struggling to get by with the increasing costs of rent and the rising minimum wage,” Kligman said. “They might not know this is something they have to do.”

But under New York law, all employers who operate in the state were required to have a sexual harassment prevention policy in place by last October. They were given a year after that to complete the training (though all workers in New York City had to be trained by April 1, 2019). The training must be repeated on an annual basis, and new employees must be trained shortly after they are hired.

Many attorneys with a concentration in employment law, such as Kligman, have been conducting training to help their clients comply with the new requirement.

Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, a law firm based in Ronkonkoma, will offer training sessions for employees of multiple companies in its training room next month.

“A lot of businesses have not complied yet, and there are many companies with just a few employees who don’t want to spend the extra funds to have a private training session,” said Christine Malafi, senior partner and chair of the firm’s corporate department. “This is a more economical way for them to do it.”

New York State also makes online resources available for employers to provide training. But while training can be completed online, in-person training has certain advantages.

“A lot of the time, the best teaching gets done in the question-and-answer segment of live training,” said A. Jonathan Trafimow, partner and chair of the employment law practice group at Moritt Hock & Hamroff in Garden City. The firm has provided anti-harassment training to companies ranging in size from about five to 500 employees, he said.

In these live sessions, he said, managers and employees are able to hone in on the questions that are relevant to them and address concerns that are uppermost in their minds.

“There is not likely to be much variation in the content if you are using the state’s program, but with live training the program can be tailored to be more relevant to the company’s demographics, or whether it’s an office or warehouse or factory environment,” Trafimow said.

Over the last several months, Malafi has been engaged by several chambers of commerce to provide anti-sexual harassment training to groups made up of their member businesses.

At these sessions, several participants recounted incidents that had happened to them in the workplace and asked if they should report them, Malafi said.

“The sessions made people more aware of what constitutes proper behavior and improper behavior in the workplace,” Malafi said. “In most of the complaints, in my opinion, the employee who is doing the offensive conduct is not aware that it is offensive to the other person, because the two individuals don’t take it the same way.”

The sessions provide a lot of back and forth on issues such as physical contact in the workplace.

“Someone might say, ‘What’s the big deal if I put a hand on someone’s shoulder?’” Malafi said. “I say you shouldn’t do it. You have to be cognizant about how the other person feels, and rather than make a mistake about how they would feel about it, it’s better to just not do it.”

With the diverse pool of people in the workforce – who come from a wide range of backgrounds and generations – different actions can be interpreted in many different ways.

“You might have people ranging in age from 19 to 80 in a workplace, and the age difference can make a gigantic difference in how people act,” Malafi said. “They might not realize how what they’re doing is offending people. With these sessions, there is a dialog back and forth. People feel comfortable because I’m not their supervisor or employer, so they feel more comfortable having an open discussion.”

Campolo, Middleton & McCormick offers two types of training sessions – one for managers and supervisors, and one for non-management employees.

The session for management has an extra component. “New York State does not require separate training for managers, but we feel it is extremely important that they receive extra training because the new law places responsibilities on managers and supervisors that did not exist before,” Malafi said.

 

By: Bernadette Starzee

Click here for the article at LIBN.com


A.Thomas Levin Quoted In, “Baxter House Site Plan Approved With Conditions”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission of the Village of Baxter Estates convened on May 16 to approve, with conditions, the site plan presented on April 11 of the proposed new single-family home at 15 Shore Rd., the site where the Baxter House once stood. Similarly, the commission approved the structure of the home pursuant to the commission’s authority under Village Code 118-6 with respect to new construction in historic sites.

“There are two actions we have to take,” said Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Peter Salins at the start of the meeting. “We have to decide on the landmark site proposal and act on the site plan connected to that. We’re pretty much at the end of the time we could make a decision on this particular proposal, so we really have a trinary choice: We can deny the proposed construction, we can approve it without any conditions and we can approve it with some conditions.”

Applicant Sabrina Wu’s attorney, A. Thomas Levin, apologized to the board for Wu’s absence and said she had personal matters to attend to.

Because the board had asked to see additional materials that were proposed at the last meeting, N2 Design + Architecture, PC,’s Principal Architect Frank Genese (also a commissioner on the Town of North Hempstead Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and trustee in the Village of Flower Hill) presented a mock up of an Anderson Woodwright Series simulated divided light window constructed of Versatex, a PVC material that mimics wood—a window he explained has been used in a number of historic restorations and is accepted by the National Parks Service. Salins asked if there would be mullions on the upper and lower portions of the windows.

“There’s two ways we can go with this: we can go with a six over six, or we can go with six over one,” said Genese. “After the meeting last time, the client had expressed interest in not having divisions on the lower window to take advantage of the views.”

Salins expressed the board would prefer six over six because he said the original structure had the mullions divisions in the upper and lower sections of the windows.

Genese also presented the plank siding and shingles that were proposed for the roof. Landscape architect Damon Scott presented the changes made to the landscape plan, which included the addition of two plants to the plant list, addition of plants to the northwest corner of the home, addition of three fountain grass along the garage, elimination of a small section of privet, addition of one evergreen, the walkway was narrowed to 3 feet and the location of the steps were changed.

The commission’s attorney, Christopher Prior, asked what was being done, if anything, regarding the concerns resident Steven Stulbaum raised at the last meeting about the air conditioner and generator units placed on the side of the house adjacent to Stulbaum’s property. Prior confirmed that there would be sound attenuation panels around the units and evergreen screening.

“As an attorney, I recognize one problem with that suggestion from the neighbor, which is the selected location is the only one that can be done without variances,” said Prior.

“There’s equipment that’s quieter than some,” said Scott. “We have a fence on the inside around it, we have evergreens around that and then we also have another solid fence around [the yard], so it’s got three layers of sound buffering. Other than getting a lower decibel air conditioning unit, there’s not much more we can do.”

After the presentation and multiple questions from the commission, Salins asked if any community members would like to comment.

“Again, this does not look like the Baxter House,” said Kathy Coley. “I’m disappointed. I appreciate the concerns you have for our neighbors’ closeness to the new house. I didn’t hear anything about the trees that might be cut down. I’m feeling a little disheartened.” Jill Berg, a third-generation Port resident, held similar sentiments and said, “Aesthetically, the house looks beautiful, but it doesn’t close enough represent the Baxter House to me. The siding that was shown doesn’t represent it enough. The second-floor deck wasn’t even existent on the old house. There are too many variations on it.”

“It seems to me relatively minor modifications of the design to get the different setback in the front and not to have this patio going across the second floor might not be a major modification, so a gentle question, would the client consider the concerns of me and the residents,” asked commission member Michael Marmor.

“I think I can speak to the gentle question, but the answer is no,” responded Levin. “The goal here is to have a decision on whether this is an appropriate design, not whether it’s the most appropriate or the one you like the best. It’s the owner’s choice. What I’m hearing from everybody is it’s appropriate, but they would like something better. You’re not entitled to that.”

“I understand, but on the other hand, I do want the other members on the committee to exercise their judgment in terms of their interpretation of our jurisdiction,” said Salins.
The commission recessed to executive session for about 40 minutes. Once they returned, the board unanimously voted to approve both decisions with conditions.

Conditions included an amendment to the landscape plan to switch out a type of grass for a non-invasive type of grass; the addition of juniper planting to the area where there are no windows; condition that the driveway be no more than 12 feet wide and the turnaround no more than 20 feet wide; a condition that the windows have six over six mullions; any trees in the village right of way shall not be removed unless the village board of trustees approves; and the air conditioning and compressor shall meet a noise level of 59 decibels or less.

To address the possibility of the site containing Native American remains or artifacts, a condition states that if any such type of artifact or remain is found, the construction stops, the entities that have jurisdiction over that are notified and the superintendent of buildings resolves the issue. In order to address the possibility of soil contaminants, including lead, prior to the issuance of any building permit, the owner of the premises shall present to the village and superintendent of buildings evidence, including soil samples.

Click here for the original article at Port Washington News.

By:  Christina Claus