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After Fireman Sued FDNY For Sexual Harassment Now Moves To Drop Federal Case Against Aristy

By Matthew Russell Lee, More on Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 13 – The Federal case in which ex-firefighter Gordon Springs accused the FDNY, its Commissioner and three firemen of sexual harassment resulted on May 20 in an ill-attended conference in which the parties disputed which Federal Magistrate Judge would be best to try to bring the large gap between them for a settlement.

 Now it appears that the case, at least a Federal part of it, is over.

  First the case got a new or visiting judge: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Donald E. Walter: Pretrial Conference held on 11/11/2019. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b), the Court ordered a separate trial for plaintiff's claims against the City of New York from the trial scheduled for November 12. The Court will issue an Order in due course with its ruling on the separation. A trial date for defendant City of New York will be scheduled at a later date. The Court adjourned the trial for one day from November 12 to November 13, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Donald E. Walter."

  But on November 12 the law firm of Liggieri & Dunisha wrote to Judge Walter in unassigned Courtroom 15A where Judge Richard J. Sullivan until moving upstairs to the 23rd floor used to hear cases, and told him that their client Gordon Springs "has agreed to release individual Defendant Aristy from the federal claims... we respectfully request that the Court dismissing the remaining claims. Pending the result of a trial as against the City, Plaintiff would then be entitled, if necessary, to commence the remaining state and city claims as against the individuals in state court pursuant to CPLR 205(a).

  And so some part of this case is over. It is, or was, Gordon Springs v. The City of New York et al., 17-cv-451 (Walter).

  Earlier U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alison J. Nathan asked Springs' lawyer and then the defendants about the chances of settlement. Springs' new lawyer Paul Liggieri of L & D Law, P.C. replacing the Derek Smith Law Group said that his client acknowledges that his first demands were unreasonable, but said the City is now offering only "garden variety damages." The individual firemen's lawyer said his clients could contribute something but not much.

 Now on June 3 the City of New York is trying to sever itself from these individual defendants / hazers: "The City respectfully submits that it would be unduly prejudiced if faced with a trial in which a fact pattern of hazing, hostile work environment and discrimination, all facts that support claims that have been dismissed against the City, were presented against them. Indeed, on a motion in limine, the City would seek preclusion of most, if not all, evidence and testimony relating to plaintiff’s discrimination claims as such evidence would be unduly prejudicial to the City’s defense of plaintiff’s retaliation claims.

To keep these trials together would essentially force the City to into a dilemma: either ignore the evidence and testimony regarding the nonretaliation claims and risk a jury interpreting this silence as a concession; or address this evidence and thereby create the appearance that these non-retaliation claims apply to the City. This would very likely lead to jury confusion. It will be very difficult for the jury to be able to discern which of plaintiffs’ claims relate to a witness’s testimony. As a result, there is a distinct likelihood that the City may be held liable for claims that have been dismissed against it. This risk of undue prejudice to the City weighs heavily in favor of conducting separate trials." Will Judge Nathan grant it? Watch this site.

Back on May 20 after the round of answers Judge Nathan said "if the ocean of difference becomes a lake or river," then it made sense to return to the Magistrate judge for another settlement conference. 

But which Magistrate? Judge Nathan asked if Magistrate Judge Ona Wang had indicated she would be willing to try a second time. Both side said Yes. Then Li said he had had success with SDNY Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses.

  Judge Nathan said she had no power to reassign the case to another Magistrate. She again encouraged the parties to try to settle, to avoid the cost and risk of a trial.

SDNY courthouse

 (Magistrate Moses, later on May 20, was holding a settlement conference partially by telephone in another case, Charlestown Capital Advisers, LCC v. Acero Junction, Inc. et al., 18-cv-4437, assigned to her by Judge John G. Koeltl).

  The FDNY case, still with an ocean of difference between the parties as Judge Nathan put it, is Gordon Springs v. The City of New York, et al., 17-cv-451 (Nathan).


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