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Meyer Suozzi Wins “Chapter 11 Restructuring of the Year” at 2021 Turnaround Atlas Awards

(Garden City, N.Y.) Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to share that it has been named the winner of the “Chapter 11 Restructuring of the Year Award” for small to middle market companies at the Global M&A Network’s 13th Annual Turnaround Atlas Awards for its representation of Rubie’s Costume Company, Inc. and its petitioning affiliates in their Chapter 11 cases. The Turnaround Atlas Awards is one of the most prestigious, independently governed awards to honor the best value-creating transactions, outstanding firms, professionals, and leaders from the restructuring, investing, insolvency and turnaround communities.

Spearheaded by Kevin Schlosser, Chair of Meyer Suozzi’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department, Meyer Suozzi has served as general counsel to Rubie’s and represented it in all manner of legal and business issues since 2002 throughout the United States and internationally, including in protecting its valuable intellectual property, in litigation, on mergers and acquisitions, employment and banking.  With Meyer Suozzi’s legal guidance, Rubie’s grew to a worldwide leader in the costume industry, with operations in 15 countries and sales in 52 countries.  When presented with the challenges of COVID-19 and an uncertain business environment for its core business, Rubie’s turned to Meyer Suozzi to guide it through the turbulent financial road ahead.  Edward J. LoBello, Chair of the Bankruptcy & Reorganization group at Meyer Suozzi, stated, “Notwithstanding the global pandemic and doubts regarding whether there would even be a Halloween season in 2020 and beyond, we helped Rubie’s consummate a sale transaction, preserve enterprise value, generate a meaningful distribution to creditors, and save over 100 jobs, resulting in a confirmed Chapter 11 plan.”

In addition to Messrs. Schlosser and LoBello, Meyer Suozzi attorneys Howard B. Kleinberg, James D. Garbus, Jordan D. Weiss, Steven T. Cheng and Matthew Marcucci were instrumental in this award-winning representation.

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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. With offices in Garden City, New York City and Washington, D.C., the firm provides legal advice in a wide array of practice areas. For more information, visit www.msek.com.


Patricia Galteri Named 2021 New York’s Top Rated Trusts & Estates Lawyer By New York Magazine and The New York Law Journal

New York Magazine and the New York Law Journal named Managing Attorney and Chair of the Wills, Trusts & Estates practice, Patricia Galteri among its 2021 listing of New York City’s top-rated trusts and estates and family attorneys.

This honor recognizes Ms. Galteri for being among the best of the legal profession and is based on New York Magazine and the New York Law Journal’s collaboration with Martindale-Hubbell and its highly regarded peer-reviewed, legal rating system. All of the attorneys listed are AV Preeminent Attorneys and Top-Rated Attorneys, which are the highest ratings given in the legal profession.

Ms. Galteri’s practice includes the development of estate and family business plans to ensure the tax efficient transfer of wealth to the next generation while meeting the specific personal goals of her clients.  She implements such plans through the use of wills and grantor trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, generation skipping trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts and other arrangements designed to transfer property at little or reduced gift tax cost to selected beneficiaries. Nomination of agents under Powers of Attorneys and Health Care Proxies also play an important role in effecting her clients’ intentions.

 

Click here to view on New York Magazine


Andrew Turro Quoted in “Rice Can Continue Training After Receiving TRO”

Stay from N.Y. court halted implementation of three-year suspension, $50K fine.

Linda Rice will be able to continue to train and operate her New York-based racing stable after receiving a temporary retraining order June 9 in Schenectady Superior Court.

The stay will allow Rice to continue training until all of her legal options are exhausted or her attorneys reach a settlement with the New York State Gaming Commission over a three-year suspension and $50,000 fine that went into effect June 7.

After a five-month hearing earlier this year, state regulators in New York had revoked Rice’s license for her role in what officials say was a “corrupt” scheme to gain an edge with her horses from 2011-15 by obtaining the names of entries in races from racing office employees before the cards became final.

Prior to filing the stay, Rice’s attorney, Andrew Turro, said, “We are very troubled by the commission’s determination with respect to the racing office information issue because it is incorrect in a number of material respects.”

Rice has two horses entered on the June 10 card at Belmont Park, three June 11, and five June 12.

“NYRA will comply with the temporary restraining order while determining additional options that may be available,” said the organization’s senior director of communications Pat McKenna.

Since beginning training in 1987, Rice has 2,112 wins and earnings of $86.1 million—most by a North American female trainer. Her earnings rank 31st all-time among all trainers.


Andrew Turro Quoted in “Rice granted temporary restraining order, will continue to train”

A court in Schenectady, N.Y., has granted a request by the trainer Linda Rice for a temporary injunction that will allow her to continue to train as she appeals the license revocation that was made official by New York regulators earlier this week, according to her attorney.

Andrew Turro, the attorney, said that the County of Schenectady Supreme Court approved the request early Wednesday afternoon, two days after the New York Gaming Commission issued the order to revoke Rice’s license and deny her access to racetracks in the state.

“We are very happy about today’s decision,” Turro said. “The court’s order restores Ms. Rice’s ability to get back to racing and training immediately. We also look forward to challenging the commission’s order in the court and ultimately vindicating Ms. Rice’s rights.”

The granting of the temporary injunction was not surprising given the stakes involved and previous New York court rulings on similar actions in the past. In 2011, a court granted a temporary injunction to trainer Rick Dutrow after he was banned for 10 years by the gaming commission, and Dutrow continued to train for two years until his appeals ran out.

Turro had argued in his request for a temporary injunction that the order to revoke Rice’s license would cause “irreparable harm” to Rice’s business.

“In the absence of injunctive relief,” Turro wrote, “Ms. Rice’s training business, the result of a very successful 34-year career, will be irreversibly destroyed before the court can hear this case and determine Ms. Rice’s application for a stay/preliminary injunction.”

The gaming commission revoked Rice’s license based on a hearing officer’s report that concluded Rice had “received regular, continual, and improper access to the confidential names and other information” of horses that were entered to race at tracks operated by the New York Racing Association from a period between late 2011 and early 2015. The report said that the “misconduct was knowingly and intentionally improper.”

Turro had argued during eight days of hearings late last year in front of the hearing officer that the racing office routinely gave out similar information to other trainers, and that the New York Racing Association had no formal rule in place that considered the information she was given at the time to be confidential. The request for a temporary restraining order lays out similar arguments in advocating that Rice will be exonerated in civil court “on the merits of the case.”

Rice has won several training titles at NYRA tracks, and she has finished in the top five in the trainer’s standings on the NYRA circuit each year since 2013. She is also a prolific starter of horses at the NYRA tracks, averaging nearly 500 starts a year at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga over the past four years.

Rice has two horses entered on the Thursday card at Belmont – though both are on the also-eligible list – and three at Belmont on Friday. Barring any action by NYRA, the horses are expected to start.

“NYRA will comply with the temporary restraining order while determining additional options that may be available,” said Patrick McKenna, a spokesman for NYRA, on Wednesday afternoon.


Andrew Turro Quoted in, “Linda Rice Will Continue To Train After Court Grants Temporary Restraining Order”

The County of Schenectady Supreme Court has granted a temporary restraining order to Linda Rice, just two days after the New York State Gaming Commission officially issued the order to revoke her training license for three years, reports the Daily Racing Form. As a result, Rice will be allowed to continue to train horses in the state of New York.

Andrew Turro, Rice’s attorney, had argued that without injunctive relief, “Rice’s training business, the result of a very successful 34-year career, will be irreversibly destroyed before the court can hear this case and determine Ms. Rice’s application for a stay/preliminary injunction.”

Regarding Wednesday’s decision, Turro told DRF: “The court’s order restores Ms. Rice’s ability to get back to racing and training immediately. We also look forward to challenging the commission’s order in the court and ultimately vindicating Ms. Rice’s rights.”

Licensees in New York are entitled to appeal a finding of a hearing officer to the appropriate court, and it is common for stays of suspensions to be issued while the appeals process plays out.

Rice had seen her license revoked officially on June 7, two weeks after the NYSGC voted to uphold a hearing officer’s recommendation that Rice’s license be revoked with the condition she could not reapply for licensure for at least three years. She had also been ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 and was to be denied all access to New York gaming commission-sanctioned properties.

Rice is accused of receiving information from the racing office about which horses were entered in which races prior to the official close of entries. The alleged information exchange took place over a period of 2011 and 2014, and the commission first brought a complaint against Rice in 2019. A series of hearing dates took place in late 2020, during which the commission and Rice’s attorney presented information to a hearing officer along with numerous volumes of data and interview transcripts.


Michael Antongiovanni Obtains Appellate Victory Reversing Lower Court’s Dismissal of Plaintiff Claim

Partner, Michael J. Antongiovanni, recently obtained an appellate victory in the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversing the lower court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s claim for a private nuisance and declaration that noise emanating from a neighboring property’s air conditioner condensing units exceeds permissible sound levels of the noise code.  Mr. Antongiovanni successfully argued that the lower court’s exclusive focus on the residential character of the source of the disturbance, rather than the disturbance itself, was contrary to settled principles of nuisance law.  The Appellate Division agreed and, in so doing, parted from an earlier decision that the lower court had interpreted as establishing a general rule that a residential condensing unit can never, as a matter of law, serve as a source of a nuisance.


A. Thomas Levin Quoted in NYLJ, ‘Behind the Curtain’: Down to Six Judges, New York’s Top Court Starts Sidelining Cases

The court is operating with six judges as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to put forward his nominees to succeed Feinman and outgoing Judge Leslie Stein, who is expected to retire from the court in less than a month.

By: Ryan Tarinelli

Cases at New York’s highest court are being put on the back burner as the court tries to push forward with only six members following the death of Judge Paul Feinman.

The state Court of Appeals has ordered reargument for at least six fully argued cases in the weeks since the judge stepped down from the court in March due to health concerns.

It’s unknown why the seven-person court decided the cases will be reargued, but New York attorneys say it could be a sign there’s a deadlock among the judges.

In all six cases, oral arguments took place before the court. Most of the cases were argued without Feinman. In one of those cases, Judge Rowan Wilson recused himself, leaving only five judges to hear oral arguments.

The court is operating with six judges as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to put forward his nominees to succeed Feinman and outgoing Judge Leslie Stein, who is expected to retire from the court in less than a month.

The embattled governor has blown past a statutory deadline for choosing a nominee for Stein’s seat, despite saying weeks ago that he would shortly be making his pick to fill the position.

A spokesman for the Court of Appeals declined to comment on why the cases are going to be reargued.

The reargument orders indicate that judges are finding difficulty in reaching an agreement, said A. Thomas Levin, a Long Island attorney who has argued before the court. The most logical conclusion is that the bench is in a 3-3 deadlock on many of those cases, particularly since it’s rare to have a reargument at the Court of Appeals, he said.

“But who knows what goes on behind the curtain,” said Levin, a former president of the state bar association.

Steven Mintz, a founding partner and general counsel of Mintz & Gold, agreed and said it appears there’s a 3-3 vote on many of those cases.

Sharon Stern Gerstman, former president of the New York State Bar Association and counsel to Magavern Magavern Grimm, said there might not be a 3-3 split in the cases, but there’s enough of a difference among the judges that they decided to wait until a seventh judge can hear arguments.

Attorneys say there are other reasons the court could be delaying decisions, unrelated to any potential 3-3 divide, such as a new issue in a case that judges want to hear play out in oral arguments.

Observations about the reargument orders underscore the divided nature of the current bench. In recent years, there has been a larger ratio of dissenting opinions on the court.

Last year, there were 55 dissenting opinions as the court decided 96 appeals. In 2013, during former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s tenure, the Court of Appeals issued 81 dissenting opinions and decided 259 appeals.

In 2000, while former Chief Judge Judith Kaye was on the bench, the court decided 170 appeals, and there were 13 dissenting opinions.

The Court of Appeals is staying quiet on why the six cases were pushed to reargument. All six of the decisions feature the same line and do not expand on the reasoning behind it: “Reargument ordered for a future Court session.”

 

Click here to view New York Law Journal article.

 


A. Thomas Levin Quoted In NYLJ “With 3 Retirements, NY’s Top Court Enters Period of Uncertainty, Lawyers Say”

Three judges are leaving the court in a 10-month span. Legal experts say the shakeup is a critical moment for New York’s highest court.

Major turnover has begun for New York’s top court.

Judge Paul Feinman abruptly retired last week over health concerns and two other judges on the Court of Appeals, Leslie Stein and Eugene Fahey, are set to retire by the end of the year. That’s three judges leaving the court in a 10-month span, a shakeup that legal experts describe as a critical moment for New York’s highest court.

“[It does] present the opportunity for a dramatic shift in the philosophical composition of the court, the geographical composition of the court, the diversity on many, many different levels,” said Scott Karson, president of the New York State Bar Association. “And it remains to be seen how dramatic the shift will be.”

There are many unknowns about how three new judges might alter the direction of the court, but compounding the situation is the current status of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The embattled third-term governor is the subject of a range of sexual harassment allegations and his administration has been accused of covering up the real number of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus. There are multiple investigations into the alleged misconduct of Cuomo and his administration, including an impeachment investigation in the state Assembly.

It’s unclear if Cuomo’s picks will run into opposition in the state Senate, where a majority of lawmakers have called for him to step down.

The significance for the state’s top bench came into view last week when Feinman, the first openly gay judge on the court, suddenly retired “to attend to health concerns.”

Stein is planning to retire in early June and Fahey, who is set to reach the mandatory retirement age this year, will step down at the end of 2021.

In less than two weeks, the governor is expected to receive a small list of nominees for Stein’s seat from the Commission on Judicial Nomination. Cuomo will pick one of the nominees, who must then be confirmed by the state Senate.

Another element could potentially cloud the confirmation process: Because judges on the Court of Appeals sit on the impeachment court, any Cuomo nominee would have a vote in whether the governor is forced out of office.

“Not many people get to appoint their own potential judges,” said A. Thomas Levin, a Long Island attorney who has argued before the court.

As the investigations play out, an impeachment vote in the state Assembly is not expected to come anytime soon.

Levin, who is the former president of the state bar association, said he expects Cuomo to be in office long enough to at least appoint replacements for Stein and Feinman.

“Obviously, it puts much more drama into the situation than usual,” he said.

The Commission on Judicial Nomination says the deadline to submit applications to fill Feinman’s seat is April 8. In a statement, the commission noted that it’s cognizant of the need to “swiftly fill” Feinman’s seat.

It’s unclear if the commission will emphasize any particular legal background in selecting the nominees. In recent decades, the commission has put forward candidates from a range of legal professions, including private practice attorneys, law professors and appellate judges.

Among the three branches of New York’s government, the Court of Appeals is by far the quietest. Housed in its own building, the court assumes an out-of-spotlight role in Albany compared to state lawmakers and the governor.

There are rarely protests at the Court of Appeals compared to the Capitol in Albany, where waves of raucous demonstrators would gather in the building’s hallways during pre-pandemic legislative sessions.

The Court of Appeals also takes on a different tenor from the U.S. Supreme Court, said attorney Robert A. Spolzino, who has argued before New York’s high court.

The U.S. Supreme Court often weighs in on hot-button issues that run along fierce ideological lines. By contrast, the state law issues that come before the Court of Appeals are more practical in nature, Spolzino said.

Spolzino said he’s not sure the three new judges will lead to a sharp shift on the court, either. Part of that is the court itself, he said, but there has also been consistency in the person choosing the new members of the bench.

All of the sitting Court of Appeals judges have been appointed by Cuomo, he noted. Nevertheless, he argued it will be a challenge to incorporate a new slate of judges—and their thoughts on legal issues—into the dynamics of the court.

 

Click here to view New York Law Journal article.

 


Hon. Randall Eng Selected To Power 25 Lawyer List By Long Island Business News

Justice Eng Breaks Barriers, Offers Insightful Counsel

Justice Randall T. Eng taps into his vast legal and judicial experience to provide unique and insightful counsel and advice to Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.’s (Meyer Suozzi) clients. His areas of practice include all matters of business affairs, litigation, appeals and dispute resolution. Of counsel to the firm and a member of its Litigation Department, including the Appellate Practice and Criminal Defense groups, Justice Eng also serves within the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice.

Justice Eng has spent his career gaining extensive legal knowledge and breaking barriers. He began in public service as an assistant district attorney in Queens County. At the time, he became the first Asian American appointed as an assistant prosecutor in New York history. He then served as the deputy inspector general of the New York City Correction Department and later became the inspector general.

Prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Justice Eng served as the presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department — the busiest and largest Judicial Department in the State of New York, covering Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester, handling over 9,000 appeals per year. The presiding justice is the highest-ranking judge in the appellate division, in charge of all of its operations, as well as a sitting practicing judge on panels of appeal.

In 1983, Justice Eng became the first Asian American to become a judge in the state of New York when he was appointed to the Criminal Court of the City of New York by then-Mayor Edward Koch. He sat in the Criminal Court until 1988 when he was designated an Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. In 1990 and 2004, Justice Eng was elected and re-elected to full 14-year terms on that bench.

Following these terms, he was appointed administrative judge of the criminal term of Queens County Supreme Court in 2007 and served in that role until 2008. In 2012, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Justice Eng to lead the Second Department, where he became the first Asian American to serve as presiding justice in New York’s history.


Kevin Schlosser Featured In Newsday Article, “Appellate Court weighs in on Poospatuck gas dispute”

In a potential blow to one of two low-priced gas stations on the Poospatuck Indian reservation, the state Appellate Division has upheld the Unkechaug Indian Nation’s sovereign right to determine whether blood-right members can possess land on the Mastic reservation after the tribe voted that station’s owner “undesirable.”

The two gas station/convenience stores operate next to each other on waterfront land on the 55-acre reservation, where the introduction of price-competitive gas has at times overheated. In 2019, while the initial state Supreme Court case was wrapping up, tempers flared after the nation attempted to blockade Fast Gas based on a judicial finding.

Tribe member Danielle Treadwell and her backers filed the appeal last year seeking to overturn a lower-court ruling that found the nation had not given up its sovereign authority to declare her undesirable, even though the tribe had temporarily waived its sovereign immunity in bringing the original court case against her.

The tribe in court papers has argued Treadwell’s Fast Gas station operated unsafely, a charge her lawyers have denied, and the undesirable status linked to the association with off-reservation entities who finance it. Gasoline at the stations can be lower because of certain tax exemptions. On Monday regular gasoline sold for $2.39 at both stations.

Once the tribe voted in September 2019 that Treadwell was undesirable and “issued the tribal resolution and directives based upon the membership’s vote, the Nation, pursuant to its own Tribal Rules, created a new and independent basis, under its sovereign authority, for excluding Danielle from the disputed portion of the subject property,” the Appellate Division ruling states.

The decision affirms the state-recognized tribe’s sovereign right to settle its own land determinations which was tested during a contentious court case and counterclaim over Treadwell’s claim to ownership of land that houses the newly built Fast Gas/Smokes R Us shop. The tribe in 2018 had filed suit disputing Treadwell’s claim to the land on which the station sits.

Fast Gas opened in 2019 next door to Montauk Native Gas, operated by Andre Hardy, who was countersued by Treadwell, in a claim that separately disputed his title to part of the land where his station sits. The nation says the properties have long been under the possession of tribal member Curtis Treadwell, a relative of Hardy and Danielle Treadwell.

In arguing to affirm its right to declare Treadwell undesirable, the tribe in its appellate brief said, “Plain and simple, this case boils down at its core to an unmitigated greedy attempted land grab by unscrupulous, trespassing non-Indian outsiders who have used [Danielle Treadwell] as a pawn to exploit the tax-exempt protections afforded to state-recognized Indian Nations by trying to operate a smoke shop and gas station within the Nation’s Reservation without its authority or consent.”

David Besso, an attorney for Danielle Treadwell, argued while the appellate-court ruling “did say the tribe didn’t give up sovereignty,” it “ultimately didn’t say anything about” her claim to the land, which he argued she will continue to litigate to keep.

He argued the tribe declared his client undesirable “under the wrong section of their bylaws,” and that the nation “can’t take her property without due process.

“There’s been no enforcement action at the present time,” he said of any attempt by the tribe to shutter the Fast Gas station. “If there is we’ll be right back in court.”

But Unkechaug Nation outside attorney Kevin Schlosser in an interview said the court’s ruling is clear.

“Two courts ruled [Danielle Treadwell] cannot challenge the sovereign act of the nation,” he said. “She can’t bring a lawsuit to challenge the vote of undesirability. That’s an act of sovereignty. New York courts can’t second guess that.”

It’s uncertain whether Danielle Treadwell will bring her case to the Court of Appeals. Schlosser noted it’s a high bar to do so, noting that permission to do so from the higher courts is “not often granted.”

Schlosser said the nation is “obviously is going to take all necessary action to uphold its rights and implement its decision. The nation as a whole has determined how this property should be used and they will indeed proceed to uphold their rights….The nation has made clear it has no desire for another gas station on its reservation especially directly next door to another safely operated gas station.”

Danielle Treadwell didn’t return a call seeking comment.

The Unkechaug Nation, in a statement, said it was “grateful that the New York Courts have recognized our sovereign authority as a Native American Indian Nation to determine how our land on our own Reservation is used and possessed and how our internal affairs are governed. We intend to make sure that our determinations are respected by all those concerned.”

 

To view article in Newsday, click here.