Saturday, May 9, 2009

Long Island Legal News -- April 2009

In this issue:

Long Island Legal News is a monthly newsletter chronicling legal and law-related happenings in Nassau and Suffolk County.

* In Gorman v. Huntington, the Court of Appeals reversed the Second Department and Suffolk County Supreme Court, finding that the Town of Huntington could assert a lack-of-written-notice defense in a trip and fall case, despite the fact that a local clergyman had twice given written notice to the Town but had been directed by the Town to give the notice to the wrong department. (

* In Dupree v. Giugliano, 2009 NY Slip Op 50697(U), Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Rebolini upheld a $416,500 jury award for medical malpractice to a woman who was taken advantage of by her doctor, who was treating her for depression. The defendants argued that the case was really a Heart balm action, which is illegal in New York. (

* In Anand v. Kapoor, 2009 NY Slip Op 03110 (2d Dept. April 21, 2009), a split-panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department, held that being hit by a misdirected shot is a risk assumed by playing golf, and a golfer may not be held liable merely for failing to shout "fore" before swinging. Instead, a prospective plaintiff must show that their injury was caused by a risk "over and above the usual dangers inherent in participating in the sport." In personal injury law, there are two types of "assumption of risk." Primary assumption of risk is a risk inherent in a sport, such as a boxer's risk of being punched, and is a complete defense to a personal injury action. Secondary assumption of risk is a risk that someone should have known about, such as walking over an icy sidewalk, and is a defense to a personal injury action insofar as the defendant's liability can be reduced by the plaintiff's share of fault. (; New York Injury Cases Blog)

* Sears Accused of Deceiving Consumers. A Long Island lawyer has spearheaded a class-action against Sears after learning that the store had a policy of not honoring its advertised price-matching policy. (Also covered on ATL).

* Officials Linked To State Comptrollers Office Charged With Fraud, Money Laundering, and Bribery. The Attorney Generals Office has issued the first indictment in what the refer to as a "network of corruption" among Queens and Long Island democrats linked to former State Comptroller Alan Havasi. Havasi resigned in 2006 after it was revealed that he had improperly used State funds to care for his ailing wife. The officials, only two of which are named, are charged with, among other things, securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, and using State money to pay for lavish gifts (such as Manhattan apartments).

* Murder-Suicide Over Financial Dealings. William Parente of Garden City, a Brooklyn Law School graduate practicing Trusts and Estate Law in Bayside, Queens, killed himself and his family on April 15, 2009, after Parente's questionable investment business went sour and he was accused of financial fraud.

* Agape Scandal. After a four month inquiry, Nicholas Cosmo, owner of Agape World Inc. and Agape Merchant Advance LLC, has been indicted for fraud by the U.S. Attorney's office. There are also new allegations in the related civil suit, Sullivan v. Agape World, Docket No. 09-cv-1274 (EDNY). Bank of America had previously been accused of opening a branch inside Cosmo's headquarters and of turning a blind eye to his activity; now, it appears that Bank of America's employees were actively helping Cosmo, providing him with investors' bank records so that he knew who to pressure for higher investment contributions and when to pressure them.

* Sex Offenders. Southhampton has joined in Riverhead's lawsuit to prevent Suffolk County from placing a sex-offender trailer park there. (; Riverhead News-Review). In Merrick, public hearings are being held wherein residents are asking for stronger sex-offender notification laws; apparently, there are 400 registered sex offenders in Nassau County, and 730 in Suffolk. (Newsday).

* Red Light Cameras. The State Legislature has approved the expanded use of red light cameras in Long Island. (The Both Nassau and Suffolk County anticipate that the cameras will bring in several million dollars in revenue. (Long Island Press). In Suffolk, the fine will be $50. (Suffolk Times).

* Illegal Apartments. Islip has raised the fine for having an illegal apartment. $2,500 for the first offense; $5000 for the second; and $10,000 for the third. (Newsday).

* LIRR Security. Locheed-Martin is asking a Federal Judge to excuse its performance of a contract to install a $300 Million security upgrade to the LIRR, claiming the MTA has delayed the progress of the project. (NY Times). The LIRR delayed and inefficient? It can't be true.

* Pine Barrens. Environmentalists have vowed to file a lawsuit to overturn the Town Of Brookhaven's decision April 16 to re-zone a portion of the central Pine Barrens region in order to allow a 39 Acre housing and commercial development project. (Newsday).

* Debate continues over the Markey Bill, which would extend the statute of limitations for civil suits brought by victims of childhood sexual abuse. (Newsday). The Catholic Church vehemently opposes the bill, arguing that it will open the church to a flood of litigation and unfairly singles out religious institutions over private schools. As a Catholic, who once considered becoming a priest, my position is that where the Church is responsible for these things, it should be held responsible. First, the Church's money comes from its parishoners, and it is more appropriate for donation money to be used to compensate victims of sexual abuse than for many of its current uses. Second, the Church should welcome justice, not oppose it. Studies estimate that between 1950 and 2000, approximately 4% of Catholic Priests in the United States were sex abusers, victimizing more than 10,000 people. (See VOA).

* Suffolk County Accused Of Discrimination Policy Towards Pregenant Employees. A Suffolk County Parks Officer has sued the County, arguing that the County's current policy of making officer's either take time off during pregnancy or continue with their full duties is discriminatory, and that the County should be legally required to make limited duty work available.

* Domestic Workers, such as nannies and housekeepers, are lobbying Albany for a Domestic Laborers' Bill of Rights.

* Local Unions are fighting against the Village Of Bellport after the Village hired a West Virginia Company (that does not comply with Long Island's licensing and wage laws) to restore a golf course.

* High School Mock Trial. Congratulations to the Central Islip Legal Eagles for winning Suffolk County's high school mock-trial turnament.

* From Above the Law, a review law schools 50-75 on this year's US News & World Report, including a scathing letter from a Brooklyn Law School Alumn calling the school a rip-off.

* John Hochfelder's New York Injury Cases Blog and Eric Turkewitz' New York Personal Injury Blog both have informative posts discussing the insurance company practice of paying off doctors for false reports.

* Not New York related, but still entertaining, ATL and GeekLawyer both offer commentary on a recent decision by Judge Richard Posner -- noted jurist, law professor, and semi-retired Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- discussing copyright infringement in the context of sex toys.

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