Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Divorce Lawyer - Happily Married

Can you have a happily married divorce attorney? Of course you can - I am. I love my wife very much, and even if we fight divorce isn't on the table.

Divorce isn't a good thing. You may be looking at my site because you're in the middle of a fight, and things seem terrible, and your not happy - it happens. But should you get divorced?

If you're not sure, then the answer is probably no. It's not something to do lightly.

People do, however, get divorced. Some people are sure. However the marriage ended, it ended, and it's done.

As lawyers, whether as a divorce attorney, personal injury attorney, or many other areas, we help people move forward in their lives after bad things happen. Not on an emotional level necessarily, but with practical and financial matters.

So, if you are looking at this site wondering if you should get divorced, you're not going to find an answer. You can learn about the process, and what your rights are, but whether you should get a divorce is not something a divorce lawyer will help you with.

If you have decided to get divorced, I'm sorry to hear it, and I'm sure you have your reasons. Good reasons, bad reasons, your fault, their fault - whatever it is, I'm not here to judge.

You will need someone on your side throughout the process, who can protect your interests, help you understand what your legal rights are, help you make reasoned decisions, and not just be in your corner but get in the ring with you or for you as needed. That's what a divorce attorney is here for.

Personal Injury Attorney - Liability First

When I evaluate a personal injury case, my first concern is liability. Many personal injury lawyers focus too much on the injury. Damages are based on the injury, but there are no damages without liability.

Liability in a personal injury case is based on the law of Torts, i.e. the law governing compensation for damages caused by beaching a duty implied by the relationship between the parties. Tort Law is broader than just personal injury, and encompasses business and other relationships as well. A personal injury attorney, however, is generally dealing with mechanical injuries caused by often-replicated circumstances.

Thus, with many cases, a personal injury lawyer can assess liability with a fair amount of confidence. I have litigated complicated and difficult cases, and I am not opposed to it. If it is an interesting issue, or something where the client has really been wronged, I am happy to fight even knowing that the legal issues may be difficult and there may be a chance of losing.

From a business perspective, however, I want to take cases involving rear-end car accidents; pedestrian collisions; accidents caused by a drunk driver; or construction accidents where workers fell from a ladder or scaffold, or were hit by a falling object. With those types of cases, I can get results.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Business Attorney

A business lawyer's greatest resource can be the clients themselves. Last week, I had a meeting with one of my favorite clients, and the guy constantly impresses me with his exceptional business accumen. Some very successful people make you scratch your head as to how they got where they are. With others, however, it makes sense.

Clients look to us for information, insight, and experience with the law and the legal system. Clients, however, know their own businesses and industries, and can often offer business solutions and strategic approaches that are outside of what most attorneys would think of when "thinking like a lawyer."

Thursday, October 20, 2011


There are a few different methods for litigating employment discrimination and harassment cases.  For a Federal title VII claim, you need to file an EEOC complaint and wait six months.  With a state claim, you can either proceed directly in the New York State Supreme Court, or file an administrative complaint with the State Human Rights Commission. The EEOC and NYS Human Rights Commission have dual filing, so filing with one counts for the other as well.  In New York City, there is a third entity, the NYC Commission on Human Rights, that functions similarly to to the State agency.

There are pros and cons to each approach. In general, the Federal Courts are efficient and push cases through relatively quickly. Although each judge is different, as a general rule Federal Judges are highly intelligent and analytical, and will carefully scrutinize the theory of liability under which a case is brought. Additionally, Federal Courts have a broader jury pool.  On Long Island, Federal jurors can come from Nassau, Suffolk, or even Queens or Brooklyn.   

State Court Judges can be just as intelligent, if not more-so, than their Federal counterparts, but they are usually dealing with a much larger case load.  The effect is that discovery moves slower. Additionally, in a State court, your jurors all come from the county where you filed.  

With the Division of Human Rights administrative hearings, or equivalent hearings in the City, there are no juries, but the procedure is simplified, and they are significantly more friendly to pro se litigants.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


In some respects, personal injury lawyers can manage cases in a mechanical fashion.  With car accidents, slip or trip and falls, and many construction accidents, personal injury attorneys deal with the same fact patterns over-and-over again, and are negotiating with insurance carriers who look at the cases as statistics. 

In other respects, however, a personal injury lawyer needs to be able to make jurors, the defense attorneys, and the insurance adjuster, understand that their client is more than a mere statistic.  The bulk of the money awarded in personal injury cases is for pain and suffering, and statistics do not suffer -- people do. 

Thus, there needs to be a balance.  In order to effectively maneuver a case towards resolution, a personal injury attorney needs to step back and process a case in an efficient manner.  Evaluating liability, and the procedure for bringing a lawsuit, generally has little to do with the manner in which the particular individual involved in the suit was injured.  At the same time, however, a personal injury lawyer needs to be able to seamlessly switch back from "robot" to "human" when speaking with or about their client.   

Divorce Attorney

With matrimonial and family llitigation, there is a fuzzy line between legal and personal advice.  Divorce attorneys have an expertise and training in one, but usually not the other.  For many issues, howrver, the two overlap.

Clients may ask how a particular decision will affect their "case," but often the more significant impact of that decision will be on the client's life, relationships, and overall well-being.

A divorce lawyer needs to be able to listen and understand the whole situation, along with the client's goals and concerns, and identify and seperating the legal issues  from the personal ones.  A lawyer's advice may include reiterating fundamental principals such as the "best interest of the child," but that advice can also include helpig the client identify the issues, or portions thereof, that are better addressed through personal reflection (and, perhaps, consulting with medical professionals, clergy members, or trusted friends/relatives).

Friday, September 9, 2011


A business attorney can obtain three types of relief through litigation: equitable, legal, and declaratory.  Equitable remedies, such as an injunction preventing a particular action, or an order requiring someone to perform a particular act (including transferring possession or title to property).  Legal remedies, or remedies "at law," are money damages.  Declaratory relief is an adjudication by the court of a party's rights, such as an interpretation of a contract.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Divorce Attorney

When a divorce lawyer commences a divorce action, it is often done through a Summons with Notice, meaning that the other spouse will be served with a notice that an index number (i.e. file number) has been purchased with the court, but no documents have yet been filed with any substantive allegations.  If what you are looking for is an opportunity to present a neutral third party with a laundry list of all the things that annoy you about your spouse, the venue for that would be therapy, Confession (or the religious counseling of your choosing), or (preferably) a heart-to-heart with your spouse.

When a marriage is irretrievably broken, divorce attorneys and the courts are concerned not with fixing the marriage, but rather with facilitating the parties' transition into separate lives and households.  Aside from any child custody issues (which may or may not be addressed in the same proceeding), a divorce action is a winding-down of the financial partnership of a marriage.  Your lawyer may file or defend an application for pendente lite relief, meaning interim relief while the action is pending regarding such issues as temporary child custody, use and occupancy of the marital residence, or continued support and maintenance from the more-monied spouse to the less-monied spouse.  A divorce lawyer will assist you in preparing a statement of net worth, where you catalog your marital and non-marital assets and debts, and there may be discovery (i.e. depositions and document requests) regarding those assets and debts. Eventually, there is either a settlement or a trial, resulting in a Judgment that finalizes the dissolution of the marriage and unwinds the financial relationship between the parties.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury attorney enables a person who has been hurt in an accident to receive compensation for their injuries.  The area of law that personal injury lawyers practice is known as Tort Law, which governs the non-contractual rights and responsibilities inherent in everyday relationships.  In general, every relationship implies a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances.  The scope of that duty, and what is considered "reasonable," depends on the nature of the relationship and various public policy factors.

While many people focus on damages, in my view a personal injury attorney should always focus on liability first.  Many situations have been repeatedly addressed by the courts, providing guidance as to what does and does not constitute reasonable care.  Decisions from prior lawsuits, as well as experience, help provide a guideline for the amount of money can be obtained for a particular injury, but without liability there is no basis for forcing a third party or insurer to pay that amount.

This is an area where I have substantial experience. My first few years as an attorney were with a law firm that focused largely on personal injury cases, and in law school I received both a first year award and graduation prize for Torts.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Employment Attorney

Employment attorneys serve an important function.  Many legitimate claims of employment discrimination or harassment are never reported, and many claims that are reported are not legitimate.  Overall, however, the laws against discrimination based on race, sex, age, and religion have become ingrained in our social consciousness.  Racial and gender bias, religious intolerance, and ousting older workers in favor of young cheap labor, is not acceptable.  Employment lawyers help balance the application of these laws: providing an opportunity for employees who have been discriminated against to receive compensation, while at the same time protecting employers from overreaching and guarding against employment law becoming a general civility code.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Consumer Attorney - Hurricane Irene Power Outage

Image from Nasa.gov, captured by the
GOES-13 satellite at 8:32 a.m. EDT
(Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

--- Click here for information regarding Hurricane Sandy

--- Click here for the Public Service Commission general claim form.

Multiple people have asked me about the idea of a lawsuit or class action against LIPA based upon their response to the Hurricane Irene power outage.  A significant swath of the North Shore of Long Island has been without power for days, with minimal information as to when we can expect power restored.  While some areas are being restored, reports suggest that in many locations the power outages caused by Hurricane Irene may remain out for the rest of the week, if not until next week.

Hopefully, LIPA is doing everything it can to get the power restored as quickly as possible and, when all the details are finally known, the utility will be lauded for its exceptional work.  Ideally, New York will be able to provide the rest of the country with an example of how to prepare for and respond to a natural disaster.  

Nonetheless, it is always good for people to know and preserve their rights. I have some experience with this area of law, having handled the initial filing of a number of cases related to the Queens blackout in 2006.  (See Wikipedia; NY Times).

As a utility, LIPA operates under a Tariff with the State, which is basically the equivalent of its contract with its customers.  Under LIPA's Tariff, "the Authority shall try, at all times, to provide regular and uninterrupted service," but it is not liable for "interruption of service to make permanent or temporary repairs." It is, however, liable for up to $150 in food spoilage if it "by mistake, does not restore service within twelve (12) hours to a Customer whose service it has disconnected intentionally" and the customer makes a claim within ninety days.  LIPA Tarriff, Section I(C)(1)(a, f). 

At common law, a utility is not responsible for losses caused by service outages except where there has been "gross negligence."  Strauss v. Belle Realty Co., 65 N.Y.2d 399 (1985).  The reason why utilities are only responsible for "gross" negligence, rather than ordinary negligence, is because, as public service providers, the courts decided “to limit the legal consequences of wrongs to a controllable degree and to protect against crushing exposure to liability” as a matter of public policy. Id.

Right now, we have no idea whether LIPA was negligent at all, let alone grossly negligent.  What we do know is that there were numerous trees down, and undoubtedly a tremendous amount of work to be done to restore power in certain areas.  

Anyone desiring to claim losses should preserve their rights by filing a PSC Complaint within ninety days.  With such a large event, it would be appropriate for the Public Service Commission to conduct a review, and odds are they will.  Although the Tariff does not explicitly cover this situation, the most comparable scenario, where LIPA mistakenly fails to restore power that it intentionally cut off, requires a complaint to be filed within ninety (90) days.   In the event LIPA is culpable for failing to timely restore power, causing food spoilage (save your receipts), or there are power spikes causing equipment damage (which would be much harder to prove), the PSC process may provide some recovery for your uninsured losses, albeit likely not 100%.   The PSC's general complaint form is here, or you can send a letter to: 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Business Attorney

Business disputes can be dealt with either before or after they happen.  Where the lawyers draft a contract that anticipates potential problems, dealing with a dispute can be as simple as enforcing the agreement.  When, however, an agreement is ambiguous, silent on an issue, or non-existant, even the best attorneys can disagree over the parties' rights.

Divorce Attorney

The partners at my firm are all experienced matrimonial lawyers.  I started working on divorce cases shortly before New York's new "no-fault" law went into effect.  It is a unique area of law, and I have heard multiple judges refer to divorces as the "most difficult" cases in the Court system.  A divorce is, procedurally, simply a lawsuit: an action is commenced, there's discovery, and if the parties are not able to resolve their dispute then a trial is held.  The substantive law is also not particularly complicated.  Most of the "law" is set forth in the governing statutes, and many issues are subject to common sense -- albeit fact-specific -- concepts such as equity, fairness, and the "best interest of the child."

What makes these cases unique, however, is the personal nature of the issues the clients are facing.  As attorneys, our job is often to advise our clients and protect their legal rights when dealing with issues that are particularly difficult and stressful.  In the context of a divorce, the issues faced by a client can be uniquely personal.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Personal Injury - Construction Accident Attorney

Construction accident injuries involving ladders, scaffolds, and hoists are given special consideration through the worksite safety  provisions contained in New York's Labor Law.   These laws impose an affirmative obligation upon site owners and contractors to protect against gravity related risks.  This area of personal injury law was one of my first niche practice areas upon becoming a lawyer.   If you are interested in consulting with an experienced attorney in this area, please contact me.  If you would like to learn more about New York's worksite safety laws, click here.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Amendment Civil Rights

The First Amendment, made applicable to State action through the Fourteenth Amendment, states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Among other things, including protecting public dissemination of information and opinions from unreasonable government interference, "the First Amendment protects a public employee's right, in certain circumstances, to speak as a citizen addressing matters of public concern." Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410, 126 S. Ct. 1951 (2006).  "A plaintiff making a First Amendment retaliation claim under § 1983 [the statute permitting a private right of action for constitutional torts] must initially demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) his speech was constitutionally protected, (2) he suffered an adverse employment decision, and (3) a causal connection exists between his speech and the adverse employment determination against him, so that it can be said that his speech was a motivating factor in the determination. If a plaintiff establishes these three factors, the defendant has the opportunity to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it would have taken the same adverse employment action even in the absence of the protected conduct." Morris v. Lindau, 196 F.3d 102 (2d Cir. 1999).

In a First Amendment Retaliation claim, “the causal connection must be sufficient to support the inference e that the speech played a substantial part in the employer's adverse employment action." Diesel v. Town of Lewisboro, 232 F.3d 92, 107 (2d Cir.  2000) quoting Ezekwo v. NYC Health & Hospitals Corp., 940 F.2d 775, 780-81 (2d Cir. 1991).  Such causation may be established through a "showing that the protected activity was closely followed in time by the adverse action." Reed v. A.W. Lawrence & Co., 95 F.3d 1170, 1178 (2d Cir. 1996).

The damages that may be awarded in a First Amendment retaliation case include injunctive relief, compensation for economic loss (i.e., lost wages), attorneys fees, and emotional distress.  

Emotional distress awards within the Second Circuit can generally be grouped into three categories of claims: garden-variety, significant and egregious.” Olsen v. County of Nassau, 615 F. Supp. 2d 35, 46 (E.D.N.Y. 2009).  The amount of damages in any particular case is a highly fact-sensitive inquiry, and the amount awarded is subject to judicial review.  See e.g. Thorsen v. County of Nassau, 722 F. Supp. 2d 277, 292 (E.D.N.Y. 2010)(reducing $1.5 Million Award to $500,000 for a ‘serious’ emotional distress claim in the context of retaliation for supporting the losing political camp in an election); Phillips v. Bowen, 278 F.3d 103, 106 (2d Cir. 2002)($400,000 emotional distress award for First Amendment Retaliation based upon supporting an opposing candidate for Sherriff where “defendants' animosity permeated plaintiff's work environment).  See also Long Island Legal News, "Jury Awards 350K in First Amendment Civil Rights Lawsuit.") 

Constitutional Civil Rights Litigation

I find Constitutional cases extremely interesting.  In addition to providing an avenue of redress for people who have had their civil rights violated, these types of cases also deal with larger policy issues.    The Judicial branch is an important component of our system of checks and balances, but it only works by deciding upon the cases and controversies that are presented by litigants.  Thus, this is an area of law where, through litigating over harms that have been caused to specific individuals, the courts define the rights of broad classes within our society.  The same can be said for any type of litigation, but in constitutional litigation the larger issues are more easily apparent.

The main articles of the Constitution deal mostly with the structure and administration of the Federal government as an entity.  The Bill of Rights, however, is directed at the rights of individuals, and sets boundaries against governmental overreaching and intrusion.  Initially, the Bill of Rights was only applicable to the Federal government, not the individual states (and thus not state and local entities, like police departments). The Fourteenth Amendment, however, made these rights applicable to state actors as well.  Additionally, each individual state has its own constitution, which may provide broader protections than the Federal constitution.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

THE SECOND AMENDMENT - A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

THE THIRD AMENDMENT - No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

THE FOURTH AMENDMENT - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

THE FIFTH AMENDMENT - No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

THE SIXTH AMENDMENT - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

THE SEVENTH AMENDMENT - In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT  - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

THE NINTH AMENDMENT The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

THE TENTH AMENDMENT - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT (SECTION 1)All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Job

Announcing (after 6 months) my new job.  (Read more).