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Disputed Deli Deal Led To W 119 St Mystery and Judge Liman Dismissing Case on Jan 4

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 4 – Sometimes Fair Labor Standards Act litigation gets interesting or volatile. Such was the case on May 28 before Judge Lewis J. Liman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Inner City Press covered the proceeding.  A settlement had been filed, but was then contested.

But Judge Liman, reading from the docket during the conference, said he was troubled by counsel's statements to the court.  

Still, judiciously, he focused on resolving the dispute, urging the parties to contact the assigned Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang, or a mediator. If not, he's going to rule on the motion to set aside the default judgement.

  On June 14, the phantom settler's lawyer sought to withdraw, stating in part: "I have sent my client two letters by US Mail, one sent on or about April 18, 2020, and another on or about June 1, 2020. I have also emailed him, messaged him on facebook, and my office has made calls and sent text messages. In terms of calls and text messages, my office has attempted to contact him in that manner once a week for the past 3 weeks. Voicemails were left but no response was received.

10. I also attempted to visit Plaintiff at two of the physical addresses I have for him. At one address, no one answered when I knocked on the door.

11. The other address I have for Plaintiff is actually from the “Waiver of General Liability” that Defendants filed on the docket. That document lists the following address for Plaintiff: 30 West 119th Street, Apt 4, New York, NY 10026. When I went to that address, I spoke to an individual named Mansoor S. Alhalmi who said he lived there but that Plaintiff did not live there. When I asked him where Plaintiff did live, he asked me my name. I identified myself as an attorney and gave my name, Mohammed Gangat. Mr. Alhalmi stopped speaking with me immediately. Interestingly, I represent another individual in another wage and hour action against a deli where we obtained a default judgment against an individual defendant named Mansoor S. Alhalmi, residing at 30 West 119th Street, Apt 4, New York, NY 10026. See Bouhajrah v. Halmi et al., No 651962/2019 (Sup. Ct., NY Cty.)

12. In terms of communicating with the Plaintiff, I think the Defendants or Mr. Alhalmi are in contact with Plaintiff, however neither of them are willing to share any information with me so at this point I have no other ways of attempting to contact Plaintiff and must seek to withdraw." Inner City Press on June 14 asked, Will Judge Liman accept it?

 The answer is yes: "ORDER granting [71] Motion to Withdraw as Attorney. As discussed at the conference today, the following is HEREBY ORDERED on consent of all parties: 1. Enforcement of the previously-entered default judgment (Dkt. No. 48) is STAYED pending a decision on the motion to vacate the default judgment (Dkt. No. 64). 2. Mr. Gangat's motion to withdraw (Dkt. No. 71) is GRANTED effective July 6, 2020. 3. Any opposition to the motion to vacate the default judgment (Dkt. No. 64) shall be filed by August 13, 2020. The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to terminate the motion at Dkt. No. 71 but not to terminate Mr. Gangat as counsel at this time. Chambers will direct the Clerk of Court to terminate Mr. Gangat on July 6, 2020. Attorney Mohammed Ahmed Gangat terminated. (Signed by Judge Lewis J. Liman on 6/25/2020) (va)."

  And now on January 4, 2021, Judge Liman has signed an order dismissing the case for failure to prosecute: "the case has been pending for nearly two years, with no significant action by Plaintiff."

The case was El Aalaoui v. Lucky Star Gourmet Deli Inc. et al, 19-cv-773 (Liman). 


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