News

Michael McClaren and Shannon O’Neill Prevail on Motion for Summary Judgment in a § 1983 Lawsuit

Webster Szanyi attorneys Michael McClaren and Shannon O’Neill recently obtained a decision dismissing a § 1983 lawsuit brought against multiple police officers, sheriff, and county for claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and Monell.  The firm filed a summary judgment arguing that probable cause was a complete defense for the claims.  The firm argued that there was ample probable cause for the arrest and subsequent confinement based on: a 911 call from a witness, dash camera footage, and observations made by an officer during the traffic stop.  After substantial briefing and oral argument, Magistrate Judge Roemer issued a report and recommendation that recommended the defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted.  Despite plaintiff’s objections to the report and recommendation, the District Court Judge Sinatra ultimately agreed with the recommendation to grant the defendants’ summary judgment and issued a decision that the case be...

Michael McClaren and Shannon O’Neill Prevail on Motion to Dismiss in a Child Victims Act Lawsuit

Judge Chimes issued a favorable decision on a school’s motion to dismiss vicarious liability claims and request for punitive damages in a lawsuit brought under the Child Victims Act.  Michael McClaren and Shannon O’Neill successfully argued that allegations of sexual assault are outside the scope of employment rendering the doctrine of respondeat superior inapplicable.  Judge Chimes also granted the school’s motion that punitive damages are not recoverable against public...

D. Charles Roberts Jr. and Kevin G. Cope obtain dismissal of Article 78 proceeding against local Town

Webster Szanyi attorneys Charlie Roberts and Kevin Cope successfully defended a local Town in an Article 78 proceeding seeking to overturn the Town’s denial of a proposed concept plan for a large subdivision.  The proposed development has a long history dating back almost 20 years, during which time the Town approved a prior concept plan to develop the subdivision.  The developer did not proceed with the approved development because it was unable to acquire certain property needed for an entrance to the subdivision.  The developer subsequently amended the plan to change the location of the entrance to the subdivision.  The amended plan, however, contained a large cul-de-sac with over 40 single family residential lots in violation of the Town’s Subdivision Law and New York State Fire Code, and which presented a safety risk to the proposed residents.  As a result, the Town Board denied the developer’s application for the amended concept plan.  In response, the developer filed an Article 78 Petition in Erie County Supreme Court, alleging the Town Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, irrational, and not based on substantial evidence, and asked the Court to overturn the Town Board’s decision and approve the amended concept plan.  After substantial briefing and oral argument, the Court upheld the Town Board’s decision, and agreed the amended concept plan clearly violated Town Subdivision Law and that the Town Board’s determination was sound, rational, and based upon substantial...

Melanie Beardsley Presents at Annual NYSSBA Convention

Melanie Beardsley, a partner in the Education and Labor and Employment Department, presented at the New York State School Board Association’s annual convention. Ms. Beardsley’s presentation, School Data Privacy and Security, focused on the recent Commissioner’s regulations promulgated under Education Law 2-d and corresponding laws that require school districts and BOCES to take significant actions in order to protect student, teacher, and principal data. The NYSSBA convention is attended by hundreds of school administrators and board members across New York...

Division of Human Rights Issues No Probable Cause Finding Dismissing Claim of Disability and Gender Discrimination

The New York State Division of Human Rights (“SDHR”) issued a “no probable cause” finding on a claim that a female custodial employee at a public school was discriminated against due to her sex and alleged disability. Heather Dechert represented the school against allegations that the District wrongfully terminated the employee for using inappropriate language in the presence of students but did not terminate a male employee who allegedly engaged in similar behavior. Based on its investigation, the SDHR determined that there was no substantiation of Complainant’s claims regarding her male coworker; however, there were documented reports about Complainant’s language and behavior in front of students. The employee also alleged that the District terminated her employment as a result of a recent surgical procedure and attendant leave of absence. As a substitute cleaner, the Complainant was not obligated to accept work assignments or to provide any reason for declining work assignments; therefore, her surgery and attendant time off was irrelevant. Based on its investigation, the SDHR determined that Complainant could not and did not provide any evidence to support a conclusion that she was discriminated against due to her alleged disability; the Complainant did not even establish that she had made the District aware of her alleged...

Webster Szanyi Secures No Probable Cause Finding Dismissing Claim of Age and Disability Discrimination

The New York State Division of Human Rights (“SDHR”) issued a “no probable cause” finding on a claim that a school district employee was denied a reasonable accommodation for her disability and that, as a result of her age and disability, she was unfairly counseled and/or disciplined. Based on its investigation, the SDHR determined that the District did engage in the interactive process with the former employee and did not deny any reasonable accommodation the employee requested. The SDHR also determined that the District did not unfairly discipline the former employee due to her age or disability. The investigation did not reveal sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that the Complainant was denied equal terms, conditions and privileges of employment due to her age and/or disability. Heather Dechert represented the...

Division of Human Rights Issues No Probable Cause Finding Dismissing Claim of Gender Discrimination

The New York State Division of Human Rights (“SDHR”) issued a “no probable cause” finding on a gender pay gap claim alleging that a female Town employee was not paid the same as a male employee who ultimately replaced her. Heather Dechert represented the Town against allegations that the employee was constructively discharged and the Town hired a male to replace her at a significantly higher salary. The Complainant also alleged that the Town was very hostile toward women in positions of authority. Based on its investigation, the SDHR determined that – because of the nature and timing of the Complainant’s resignation from her position – she and her replacement were not comparably situated, and there was not sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that the Complainant was denied equal terms, conditions and privileges of employment due to her...

Webster Szanyi Attorney Peter Veech Prevails On Motion For Summary Judgment In Case Arising From A Motor Vehicle Accident Involving Municipal Employee

Webster Szanyi associate Peter Veech successfully moved for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint against a municipality located in Orleans County, in its entirety and with prejudice. Mr. Veech demonstrated that the municipal employee who was involved in the motor-vehicle-pedestrian accident giving rise to the lawsuit was “off-the-clock,” driving his own personal vehicle, and not acting within the course and scope of his employment for the municipality when the accident...

Petition For Leave To Serve Late Notice of Claim On Local Municipality Denied With Prejudice As “Patently Meritless”

Webster Szanyi associate Peter Veech successfully opposed a minor claimant’s petition seeking leave to serve late notice of claim on a local municipality arising out of a 2018 motor vehicle accident. The petition was served 1 year, 9 months, and 25 days after the minor’s claim accrued. In addition to demonstrating: (1) the municipality did not gain actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days of its accrual or within a reasonable time thereafter; (2) the municipality was substantially prejudiced in maintaining its defense on the merits due to petitioner’s failure to timely serve a notice of claim; and (3) the absence of a reasonable excuse for the delay, Mr. Veech further demonstrated that the proposed claim was “patently meritless” by submitting evidence showing that the municipality did not own, control, or maintain the roadway at issue. As such, the court held that it would be an abuse of discretion to grant the...

Shannon O’Neill obtains dismissal of plaintiff’s slip-and-fall claim.

Shannon O’Neill represented a local municipality in a negligence action asserted against it. The plaintiff alleged that the municipality negligently maintained a porch step. The Court concluded that the porch step was not unreasonably dangerous. The Court further concluded that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to causation because plaintiff admitted he was not looking at the step when the incident...

Federal Court dismisses lawsuit against corrections officers.

Shannon O’Neill, an associate at the firm, obtained a dismissal of an inmate’s federal lawsuit against two corrections officers. Ms. O’Neill argued that plaintiff’s claims failed to state a cause of action, and the Court agreed, finding that the inmate’s Fourteenth Amendment claims were not plausibly...

Excessive force claim dismissed against firm’s client.

Webster Szanyi attorney Shannon O’Neill obtains dismissal of an inmate’s excessive force claim and accompanying Monell claim against a local County and its correction officers. Judge Siragusa of the Western District of New York dismissed the inmate’s claim because the inmate failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before commencing...

Shannon O’Neill obtains dismissal of false arrest claim.

Webster Szanyi attorney Shannon O’Neill recently obtained a favorable decision on behalf of a County, Sheriff, and their police officers. The plaintiff brought a lawsuit in federal court alleging that he was falsely arrested and the arrest was made pursuant to the County’s STOP-DWI program, which the plaintiff claimed was unconstitutional. Ms. O’Neill filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that plaintiff had pled guilty to a lesser charge, which barred his ability to challenge the underlying arrest, and the accompanying Monell claim should be dismissed because there was no constitutional violation. Magistrate Judge Roemer agreed with the defendants’ arguments and dismissed plaintiff’s...

Webster Szanyi Attorneys Kevin Szanyi and Tom Lane Prevail in Complex Partnership Dispute

Webster Szanyi partners Kevin Szanyi and Tom Lane successfully represented an Am Law 200 law firm in a lengthy arbitration proceeding where six former equity partners departed the firm and subsequently pursued claims alleging the law firm’s partnership agreement was invalid and violated public policy under RPC 5.6 because, according to the departing partners, it restricted client choice of counsel and attorney mobility.  The departing partners also claimed they signed the partnership agreement under duress and asserted various claims for an accounting, dissolution of the firm, and breaches of fiduciary duty.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the arbitrators issued an award that found in favor of Webster Szanyi’s client and soundly rejected all of the former partners’ claims.  It is the second time in less than a year that Webster Szanyi has prevailed on behalf of its client in a partnership dispute between a law firm and its former partners. Webster Szanyi LLP obtains favorable decision in Capizzi v. Brown Chiari LLP, et...

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