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Brian Stolar Quoted in Newsday

Five lawsuits later, golf club owners stay on plan to build homes

 

The owners of Woodmere Golf Club want to

Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

By Jesse Coburn

Two moratoriums. Five lawsuits. $1 million in legal fees.

A plan to convert an 18-hole golf course and country club on Nassau County’s South Shore into building plots for 284 homes has not exactly been frictionless.

Still, the owners of the Woodmere Club express optimism about their goal of subdividing the expansive property, potentially yielding hundreds of millions of dollars in land sales, even as local officials continue to raise concerns about the proposal’s impact, including on traffic and the environment.

The project is entering a pivotal period, stakeholders say. The Town of Hempstead and the villages of Woodsburgh and Lawrence recently approved an intermunicipal agreement to create a comprehensive zoning plan for the property. The club falls into all three municipalities. An environmental review is also proceeding at the Nassau County Planning Commission, which may soon begin accepting public comment on the proposal.

“The process is moving forward,” said Efrem Gerszberg, one of the club’s owners. “With or without the politicians.”

The resistance to the plans to carve the property into 284 residential plots began even before Gerszberg and Robert Weiss purchased the club in 2017. Hempstead issued a moratorium in 2016 that effectively prohibited residential development there, while Woodsburgh enacted its own moratorium in 2018.

Lawsuits by the club owners ended both moratoriums. But, in December, Woodsburgh adopted a Vision Plan that recommended rezoning much of the club for larger lots, which would reduce the number of homes that could be built there. That plan sparked another lawsuit from club owners, which is ongoing.

“The board of trustees has a duty to act in a lawful manner that promotes the health, safety, morals and general welfare of its residents,” Woodsburgh attorney Brian Stolar said in an interview.

Similar concerns are present in the intermunicipal agreement between Hempstead, Woodsburgh and Lawrence to establish a comprehensive zoning plan for the club.

“Potential development seriously threatens both this environmentally-sensitive coastal area, the well-being of the Town and adjacent Villages, as well as the region as a whole,” a copy of the agreement approved in December by the Hempstead Town Board reads.

Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman, whose district includes part of the club, said the new zoning would likely reduce the number of lots the owners could create, at least on the portion of the club in Hempstead’s jurisdiction.

“There could be a residential component to the final plan,” Blakeman said, but “I would like to see it become a site where we preserve as much open space as possible.”

Gerszberg, for his part, said he is only waiting for Lawrence to approve the intermunicipal agreement before he files suit against it too. He said the club owners have spent around $1 million in legal fees on the project so far.

The costly legal wrangling over the plan reflects the rare opportunity it represents, said those involved.

“There’s not going to be that many more times where you’re going to get 100 acres of property in the middle of Nassau County that’s being developed,” said Christian Browne, an attorney for the club owners.


Jordan D. Weiss Joins Meyer Suozzi’s Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization Law Practice

January 6, 2020 (Garden City, N.Y.) – Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to announce that Jordan D. Weiss has joined the firm as an Associate in the Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization Law group located in Garden City, New York.

Mr. Weiss’ practice focuses on advising clients in the area of bankruptcy and creditors’ rights with significant experience in representing debtors, creditors and trustees in chapter 7 and chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.

“Jordan will be a valuable addition to our team,” said Edward J. LoBello, Chair of the Bankruptcy & Business Reorganization Law practice at Meyer Suozzi. “His arrival reflects the firm’s continuing commitment to providing top quality services to its clients, and we look forward to his contributions.”

Before joining Meyer Suozzi, Mr. Weiss was an Associate at a boutique bankruptcy firm on Long Island. After graduating from law school, Jordan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert E. Grossman, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Mr. Weiss received his J.D., cum laude, from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2015. While in law school, Jordan was a Notes Editor for the Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, and his student note, Non-Dischargeability of Mixed Student Debt, 13 Cardozo Pub. L. Pol’y & Ethics J. 281 (2014), was selected for publication.

Mr. Weiss was born and raised in Oceanside, New York and currently resides in Astoria, New York.


A. Thomas Levin mentioned in “Extension for demolition permits given to First Playhouse project developers”

(Photo by Robert Pelaez)

The Great Neck Estates Board of Trustees approved an extension for the developers to obtain demolition permits of the First Playhouse after a public hearing on Monday.

Lions Group NYC has sought to replace the historic building with a 20-unit, 35-bedroom mixed-use apartment complex since 2017.

“We all want to get this done so we do not have to look at a decrepit, run-down building anymore,” said Albert Shirian, who heads Lions Group.  “Whatever we can do to make sure that happens as quickly as possible, we will.”

In its heyday, the First Playhouse on Middle Neck Road showcased Broadway-bound plays and vaudeville acts starting in the mid-1920s, including the Marx Brothers and F. Scott Fitzgerald. United Artists bought the theater in the 1930s, but it closed in 1983.

Developers were scheduled to appear at a public hearing on Nov. 11 but did not provide the necessary modifications and updated studies that the village asked for after a hearing on July 8.  On Monday, representatives from Newman Design and Mulryan Engineering presented both to the board and close to 20 residents.

“The changes we made were very minute, with the biggest one being the new facade of the building,” said Brian Newman, director of architectural services at Newman Design. “We also changed the glazing and width of windows to decrease visual intrusion of residents in the apartment and the homes on Maple Drive.”

The developers amended their initial plans, which included changing the entrance location, adding windows to the west side facing Maple Drive and moving the fitness center upstairs. The facade of the building will be a dark grey brick veneer material, providing a more contemporary design.

The developers were also asked to present their findings in an updated traffic impact study.  Sean Mulryan, the head of traffic engineering firm Mulryan Engineering, presented the conclusions found since July.

“There have been no significant changes that go against our conclusions from our studies conducted several months ago,” Mulryan said.

Village Attorney A. Thomas Levin expressed concerns about granting a demolition extension if permits were subsequently not approved and there would be, for lack of a better term, “a hole in the ground”.  

Shirian and his attorney William Bonesso came to an agreement with the board that a $50,000 deposit would be made to ensure that if the building was not approved after demolition occurred, the village could level out the pavement and clear the area for another project to come along after.

“There has to be an understanding that there is mutual trust for both the village and the developers,” Mayor William Warner told the public. “We are all on the same page of wanting work to begin on this project.  The village is willing to be flexible within reason to help get this started.”

The board unanimously approved to grant a two-month extension for the developers to obtain demolition permits.  Warner said the plans must also be approved by the Nassau County planning commission. The planning commission meets on Thursday, and Levin said the village should have an answer for approval of the modified plans by Friday.

The board concluded the public hearing by agreeing to replace the modified plans withe the original ones on the initial application.  The board also agreed on extending the public hearing to Jan. 13, where approval of construction could be granted.

by Robert Pelaez

Click here for the article on The Island Now.


Alexander Berger Recognized As Long Island Herald’s Real Estate Achievers and Leaders Commercial & Real Estate Attorney

November 20, 2019 – (Garden City, NY) Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to announce that our esteemed colleague has been named Long Island Herald’s Real Estate Achievers and Leaders Commercial & Real Estate Attorney. The Herald Community Newspapers and RichnerLIVE’s Premiere R.E.A.L. Awards was held on November 19, 2019  and spotlighted entrepreneurs, professionals, and visionaries in Long Island’s real estate industry who have achieved success in their respective roles while also involved in community contributions and advocacy.

Alexander Berger is Chair of the Real Estate Law group at Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein, P.C. located in Garden City, New York. Mr. Berger represents land proprietors and developers in all aspects of transactional real estate, including the management, construction, acquisition, disposition and financing (construction, acquisition, joint venture and mortgage conduit loans) of commercial properties regionally and nationwide.

In addition, Mr. Berger represents landlords and tenants in all types of commercial real estate lease transactions including space leases, “big box” leases, ground leases and build-to-suit leases. He regularly drafts and negotiates letters of intent, brokerage agreements, and leases and subleases for landlords and tenants.

Mr. Berger also has extensive experience in structuring and facilitating like-kind exchanges under IRC §1031.

Prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Mr. Berger was a Partner in the Real Estate practice group at Westerman Ball Ederer Miller Zucker & Sharfstein, LLP. Mr. Berger is fluent in Russian.


Two Meyer Suozzi Individuals Receive 2019 Leadership in Law Awards From Long Island Business News

November 22, 2018 – (Garden City, NY) Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to announce that two of our esteemed colleagues have been named Long Island Business News’ Leadership in Law honorees. The Leadership in Law Awards held on November 21, 2019, recognized dedicated individuals whose leadership, both in the legal profession and in the community, has had a positive impact on Long Island. Recipients of this award demonstrate outstanding achievements, involvement in their profession, support of the community and mentoring. The selected Meyer Suozzi Leadership in Law award recipients reside in the firm’s Garden City office and are as follows:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Stephen P. Scaring is a Criminal Defense attorney who is Of Counsel to Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. in Garden City, Long Island, New York.  Mr. Scaring concentrates his practice in criminal law and white collar criminal matters. He was an Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Homicide Bureau in Nassau County from 1969 to 1977, and also served as a Special Prosecutor in Suffolk County prior to entering private practice in 1977. Mr. Scaring has been recognized by New York Super Lawyers Magazine, New York Metro edition for the past five years and was selected in 2008 by the New York State Bar Association for the Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award for Outstanding Defense Practitioner.  He is rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest level in professional excellence. Mr. Scaring has served as an Associate Professor of Law and Psychiatry at C. W. Post College.

Of Counsel Award: Honorable Ira B. Warshawsky is Of Counsel in the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution practices at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. in Garden City, Long Island, N.Y. Since joining the firm, the judge has handled mediations with a concentration in multiple areas including construction, personal injury and business disputes. The Judge serves not only as an advocate, representing clients in commercial litigation but also as a mediator, arbitrator, litigator, private judge, special master, and referee, especially in the area of business disputes and the resolution of electronic discovery (E-Discovery) issues. The Judge is also a member of NAM’s arbitration and mediation panels. Judge Warshawsky was a distinguished member of the New York judiciary for 25 years.


Hon. Randall Eng Participates in Program at St. Johns

“NYS Law Schools Present: Illustrious Alumni” at St. John’s Law

The Historical Society of the New York Courts partnered with St. John’s Law School to present the third program in its “Illustrious Alumni” series.

On Nov. 13, The Historical Society of the New York Courts presented the third program in its series “NYS Law Schools Present: Illustrious Alumni.” This program traced the connection between St. John’s Law and the New York courts, with a special focus on the five St. John’s alumni who have served on the Court of Appeals.

Pictured here are program participants Professor John Barrett; Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, ’83, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York; Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, ’81; retired Court of Appeals Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, ’67, now of counsel at Greenberg Traurig; retired Second Department Presiding Justice Randall T. Eng, ’72, now of counsel with Meyer Suozzi, who was one of the first Asian-Americans to hear cases on the Court of Appeals when he sat on that court by designation with Justice Peter Tom; retired Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Bellacosa, ’61; and Dean Michael Simons.

Photo by Jack McCoy



Gregg Kligman Quoted in Long Island Business News

When an employee blows the whistle

By: Bernadette Starzee

“Whistleblower” has been the word of the last couple of weeks after a Washington insider filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that President Donald Trump used the power of his office to coerce Ukraine to investigate a 2020 election rival and that the White House took steps to cover up the president’s actions.

The complaint prompted the U.S. House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry while causing some employers to examine their own whistleblower policies.

“A lot of our clients are taking a closer look and asking, ‘Do I have the right policies in place?’” said Ana Shields, principal in the Melville office of Jackson Lewis, a national law firm with a heavy concentration in workplace law.

Employers should have policies that encourage employees to report in good faith any alleged wrongdoing in the workplace without fear of retaliation, Shields said.

There are several laws – on the federal, state and local levels – that protect whistleblowers for alleging wrongdoing in a variety of areas, including fraud, harassment, discrimination and safety violations.

Many whistleblower protections, Shields said, show up in anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws governing the employer-employee relationship, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law, among others, which contain anti-retaliation policies protecting people who allege workplace discrimination or harassment.

“Allegations of retaliation are very common after people complain about harassment or discrimination,” Shields said. Of the 76,418 charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2018, 51 percent were for retaliation.

“Year after year, at least half the complaints the EEOC gets are retaliation complaints,” Shields said.

The False Claims Act, which dates to the U.S. Civil War, offers whistleblower protection for employees of government contractors who claim their employer is defrauding the government, said Kevin Mulry, a commercial litigation partner at Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz.

These employers “file actions on behalf of the government,” Mulry said, noting that such actions commonly center on Medicare or Medicaid fraud or construction projects involving public funding. “If the claim is ultimately successful, the whistleblower shares in the government’s recovery.”

The Department of Justice obtained $2.9 billion in settlements and judgments under the False Claims Act in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2018.

In addition to the federal False Claims Act, there are state and New York City versions, as well, Mulry said.

New York Labor Laws 740 and 741 also provide protections for whistleblowers, said Gregg Kligman, an employment law associate in the Garden City office of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, who noted bills were introduced in the state Assembly and Senate this year to expand the protections provided under these laws.

Labor Laws 740 and 741 prohibit termination, suspension, demotion or other retaliation against employees who report or threaten to disclose to a supervisor or public body that policies or practices of the employer are in violation of a federal or state law and create a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or that constitute healthcare fraud.

There are also a set of whistleblower laws enforced by OSHA that protect employees from retaliation for reporting various violations impacting workplace safety and health, as well as categories that include consumer products, the environment, transportation and securities laws.

“Every employer policy should encourage good-faith reports of policy violations or law violations without fear of retaliation and should include an open door policy such that employees feel invited to raise issues, which always leads to better communication,” Shields said. “There can always be better communication between the employer and employee. Sometimes the employee is very confident there is wrongdoing going on when there isn’t, and if they sit with the employer to discuss it, perhaps the employer can explain what is going on and clear up the matter.”

Many companies have a person who is designated to handle complaints, such as the human resources manager, or they may have a hotline to call, Mulry said. The steps to report wrongdoing should be communicated to employees.

Click here for the article on LIBN.


Gregg Kligman Quoted in the Nassau Lawyer

Employer Beware: New Requirements for Preventing Sexual Harassment

October 9, 2019 marked the deadline for all employers in New York State to provide all of their employees with a written sexual harassment policy and annual sexual harassment prevention training. These requirements became law on April 12, 2018, and are codified in the Labor Law § 201-g, “Prevention of Sexual Harassment.”

The new law is but one of the laws enacted by the State in the past several years strengthening legal protections from sexual harassment for employees, but creating more potential liability for unwary employers. State law now differs significantly from federal law in the standards of proof for employees asserting sexual harassment claims and employers defending those claims.

Practitioners representing employers who are proactively responding to the new state laws, who were interviewed for this article, emphasize that employer compliance with the new employer policy and training requirements is critical in defending against claims of sexual harassment.

State Law: An Affirmative Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment

Whereas, New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), Executive Law § 296, addresses “unlawful discriminatory practices,” including sex discrimination, Labor Law § 201-g now creates an affirmative duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment, or aim to, before it occurs.

Pursuant to the new law, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the Division of Human Rights (DHR) have created and published a model sexual harassment policy employers may use, along with guidance, available at the State’s website, “Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”1 Alternatively, employers may develop their own policy, as long as it meets or exceeds the State’s minimum standards.2

Whichever policy an employer uses cannot just be kept on a shelf in the human resources office; it must be distributed in writing to all employees in English or in an employee’s primary language.

The training requirements in Labor Law §201-g are very specific.

Such model sexual harassment prevention training program shall be interactive and include: (i) an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the department in consultation with the division of human rights; (ii) examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment; (iii) information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and (iv) information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.

As with the sexual harassment policy, employers may use the model training program developed by the DOL and the DHR or develop their own program.3 In addition, other resources are available on the State’s website, including a model complaint form, training videos and a webinar.

Anti-harassment training in the workplace is not a new practice. In two foundational workplace harassment opinions, [Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, and Faragher v. Boca Raton] the Supreme Court emphasized that it is an employer’s primary duty under federal anti-harassment law to exercise ‘reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any…harassing behavior’ that occurs in the workplace.4

Federal Sexual Harassment Law

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a)(1), states:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin…

The term “sexual harassment” did not originate in Title VII. Rather, some 22 years after Title VII was enacted, in Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, the Supreme Court affirmed “that a violation of Title VII may be predicated on either of two types of sexual harassment: harassment that involves the conditioning of concrete employment benefits on sexual favors, and harassment that, while not affecting economic benefits, creates a hostile or offensive working environment.”5

The Supreme Court held in Meritor that “[f]or [hostile work environment] sexual harassment to be actionable, it must be sufficiently severe or pervasive ‘to alter the conditions of [the victim’s] employment and create an abusive working environment.’”6

A dozen years later, the Court took up the issue of employer liability in Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, and Faragher v. Boca Raton, and fashioned a rule that when a supervisor coupled sexual harassment with a tangible employment action against the employee, a practice known as quid pro quo, the employer would be automatically liable.7

On the other hand,

[w]hen no tangible employment action is taken, a defending employer may raise an affirmative defense to liability or damages, subject to proof by a preponderance of the evidence. . . . The defense comprises two necessary elements: (a) that the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior, and (b) that the plaintiff employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise.8 (emphasis added.)

Under current federal law (and before recent changes to State law in 2019) an employer might successfully defend a hostile work environment claim based on sex by asserting the Ellerth-Faragher affirmative defense, if the employer prong and the employee prong were both met.

For the employer prong, “one way for employers to demonstrate that they exercised reasonable care is to show that they had an anti-harassment policy in place.”9 “Evidence of training is most commonly introduced to show an employer’s reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment under the employer prong.”10

For the second prong, if the policy has a complaint procedure then whether the employee follows the procedure may be determinative.11

As the Court held in Burlington,

“[w]hile proof that an employer had promulgated an antiharassment policy with complaint procedure is not necessary in every instance as a matter of law, the need for a stated policy suitable to the employment circumstances may appropriately be addressed in any case when litigating the first element of the defense. And while proof that an employee failed to fulfill the corresponding obligation of reasonable care to avoid harm is not limited to showing any unreasonable failure to use any complaint procedure provided by the employer, a demonstration of such failure will normally suffice to satisfy the employer’s burden under the second element of the defense.12

With State Laws More Favorable to Employees, Advice for Practitioners from Practitioners

Until very recently, hostile work environment claims based on sex under Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) were governed by the same standards and the same affirmative Ellerth-Faragher type defense could be employed under both laws.13

However, on August 12, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation amending the NYSHRL, effective October 11, 2019.14

As a result, the standards under Title VII and the NYSHRL have now diverged. The State now sets a lower bar than federal law for a plaintiff to succeed on a sexual harassment claim. The NYSHRL, Exec. Law §296(1)(h), now states, in relevant part:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice…(h) For an employer… to subject any individual to harassment because of an
individual’s…sexual orientation, gender identity or expression…[or] sex…regardless of whether such harassment would be considered severe or pervasive under precedent applied to harassment claims…The fact that such individual did not make a complaint about the harassment to such employer…shall not be determinative of whether such employer…shall be liable… It shall be an affirmative defense to liability…that the harassing conduct does not rise above the level of what a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristic or characteristics would consider petty slights or trivial inconveniences.

Under the amended State law, plaintiffs no longer have to meet the “severe and pervasive” standard set for plaintiffs in Meritor to establish a prima facie case. Further, the employee prong of the Ellerth-Faragher affirmative defense has been eliminated, so that an employer may be liable even though the plaintiff has failed to complain about the harassment to the employer. In addition, the
threshold for employer liability, rising above the level of “petty slights or trivial inconveniences,” is far easier for a plaintiff to meet than Meritor’s “severe and pervasive” standard for sexual harassment.

Given the changes to state law in favor of employees, and in the wake of the #MeToo Movement and media frenzy with each new high profile sexual harassment story, sexual harassment claims against employers are sure to increase as a result. Practitioners representing employers will need to promptly review their clients’ sexual harassment policies and training, and stress the importance of adopting such policies to employers who do not have them.

Gregg Kligman of Meyer Suozzi English and Klein, P.C. comments that employers who do not comply with the policy and training requirements effective October 9, 2019 “will have a major strike against them in litigation and before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights. Those out of compliance will be deemed not to have fulfilled their obligations to prevent sexual harassment and provide their employees with a safe work environment.” Gregg’s firm has proactively developed sexual harassment training materials for its clients. The interactivity requirement is met by in-person delivery which includes presenting different scenarios related to sexual harassment specific to the type of workplace. Greg advises that “whereas formerly training was just for managers, now all employees must attend the training to meet the new requirements.”

Hayley Dryer of Cullen and Dykman LLP states that for employers, “compliance is crucial.” “Sexual harassment training can limit corporate liability. Preparation and prevention are far more effective at reducing workplace misconduct than a government investigation, agency proceeding or litigation. A small amount of proactive risk management can save employers time and money while reducing the risk of liability and exposure.”

“In that regard, in order for an employer to have a defensible position if a claim is filed, the employer must be able to demonstrate that employees have been trained and know, or should know, exactly what improper conduct is and what to do about improper conduct if they see it happening to them or anyone else. Employers must ensure
that employees know how to recognize and respond to reports of misconduct and that all employees, particularly supervisors, know about their obligations to report (and consequences of not reporting).”

“To maximize the benefit of such training sessions, employers should make sure that their policies against misconduct are reviewed at the training. Such a review helps to familiarize employees with the policies and will also help a person report the misconduct appropriately. An employee is arguably less likely to immediately seek legal action if he or she believes there is a mechanism in place at the employer to address the misconduct.”

Rhoda Y. Andors is an attorney with Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan, LLC in Mineola, where she primarily practices employment law and works on class actions. She is past Co-Editor-In-Chief of the Nassau Lawyer.

The author thanks attorneys Hayley Dryer, Partner, Cullen and Dykman, LLP and Greg Kligman, Associate, Meyer Suozzi English and Klein, P.C., for their thoughtful contributions to this article.

1. Sexual Harassment Policy for All Employers in New York State, available at https://on.ny.gov/2PGrQmS.

2. Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, available at https://on.ny.gov/2mnY9Kk.

3. New York State Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (Oct. 2018), available at https://on.ny.gov/2kRde6K.

4. JoAnna Suriani, Reasonable Care to Prevent and Correct: Examining the Role of Training in Workplace Harassment Law, 21 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol’y 801, 803, 2018–19 (citing Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S.742, 744–45 (1998); Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 807 (1998)).

5. Meritor Sav. Bank, FS v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 73 (1986).

6. Id. at 67.

7. 524 U.S. 742, 765 (1998).

8. Id.

9. Suriani, supra n.4, at 825–26.

10. Id.

11. Id.

12. 524 U.S. at 765.

13. Murphy v. Wappingers Cent. Sch. Dist., No. 15 CV 7460 (VB), 2018 WL 1831847, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 16, 2018).

14. Jimmy Vielkind, Gov. Cuomo Signs Tougher Workplace Harassment Law, The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 12, 2019), available at https://on.wsj.com/2mfOjtM.


Meyer Suozzi Attorneys Honored at LI Herald’s Top Lawyers Awards Gala

RichnerLIVE, Herald launch inaugural Top Lawyers of Long Island Awards Gala

The Top Lawyers of Long Island Awards Gala, hosted by RichnerLIVE and Herald Community Newspapers, recognized nearly 50 of the highest-performing legal professionals at the Carltun in Eisenhower Park on Sept. 25.

Long Island’s most successful and esteemed lawyers rubbed elbows at the Carltun in East Meadow’s Eisenhower Park on Sept. 25, where hundreds gathered to celebrate the inaugural Top Lawyers of Long Island Awards Gala.

RichnerLIVE, the events division of Richner Communications, and Herald Community Newspapers honored nearly 50 of the highest-performing legal professionals and law groups at the event.

Honorees were nominated by members of their community based on their proficiency in a variety of different practices, including banking and finance, corporate, bankruptcy, civil rights, divorce mediation and matrimony, criminal, debt, education, emerging companies and capital, elder law, family law, health care, labor and employment, land use and zoning, mass torts, litigation, medical malpractice, personal injury, tax, real estate, tax certiorari and trust and estates.

The event also honored Rising Stars Under 40, the top legal firms based on size, top philanthropic firm, Pro Bono Project of the Year and Top Boutique Firm.

The night kicked off with a VIP reception and a networking and cocktail party, at which a performer wore a shimmering “champagne dress” that was fastened to a table and lined with glasses of champagne that she served to guests.

Samantha DeVictoria and Samantha Frankel, sales managers at Golden Pear Funding, a nationwide provider of consumer legal funding that was one of the event’s sponsors, greeted honorees and guests. “If you’ve been in a car accident, or any accident, and you can’t work and have a personal injury lawyer, we provide you with financial assistance before your case settles,” DeVictoria explained.

Joe Bruha, senior marketing manager of Grassi and Co., also a sponsor, spoke to guests about the company and its mission to support local lawyers with accounting and auditing services. “We want to support Long Island lawyers and do a lot of work with the local legal community,” Bruha said. “This event is a nice opportunity to network with lawyers and recognize their contributions.”

During the networking and cocktail party, honorees expressed their gratitude for their peers’ recognition. “This day and age, a lot of people who went to law school are questioning that decision,” said Honoree Ross Kartez. “Being honored at an event like this, in front of my peers, is so rewarding because it reaffirms that decision and makes me confident doing what I do.”

Kartez, who works in the litigation department of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale, lives in Rockville Centre with his wife, Deanna, and their two children. He earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Buffalo and a law degree at St. John’s University.

Another honoree was Fredrick Johs, one of the founding partners of Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles, who is now the senior trial partner in all areas of litigation. Johs has over 35 years of experience in representing clients in significant claims cases. His work, he explained, focuses on the defense side of civil cases and medical malpractice.

“It’s always nice to receive these kinds of honors,” he said, “and the recognition from my peers means a lot to me.”

Amy Amato, executive director of corporate relations and events at RichnerLIVE, shared a similar sentiment about the event and its goals. “Tonight’s an exciting night to recognize the hard work that our honorees do professionally and in the community to help those in need,” she said. “It reinforces RichnerLIVE’s mission to connect, collaborate and celebrate Long Island’s top business professionals.”

Once attendees settled in the dining room for a three-course meal, members of the Nassau County Girl Scouts presented the colors to begin the ceremony.

“Lawyers, like journalists, are committed to upholding justice,” said Stuart Richner, chief executive officer and publisher of Richner Communications, as he welcomed guests to the event.

Richner presented the honorees with ornate glass awards engraved with their names. Masters of ceremonies Antoinette Biordi, of News 12 Long Island, and Alyssa Seidman, of the Bellmore/Merrick Herald, introduced the lawyers as they walked to the stage to cheers of support and appreciation.

“Community is important to our honorees and guests, and, as a community newspaper, it’s also important to us,” Richner said before introducing the night’s beneficiary, Island Harvest Food Bank, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island, which received a portion of the event’s ticket sales proceeds.

Click here for the article at LI Herald