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As Coop City Is Sued For Sexual Orientation Discrimination Now Jury Trial in SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 14 – Damien Reyes sued Riverbay Corporation for employment discrimination at Coop City in The Bronx in 2018.

His complaint says he was "subjected to physical threat, intimidation, verbal abuse and assault by co-workers, based on his sexual orientation as a homosexual male."  

On September 22, 2020 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it.  

Riverbay Corporation was trying to preclude the testimony of Reyes' expert, Dr. Richard Dudley. But in a lengthy oral ruling, Judge Woods denied the motion and said the testimony came come in.

Citing Daubert, Judge Woods said the expert can be cross-examined on matters in dispute.

On November 20, Judge Woods held another conference in the case. Inner City Press again covered it.

Talk turned to when the trial might be. On very little notice, Judge Woods said. He said the SDNY has cases "stacked up" such that if a criminal defendant pleads guilty before trial, there is a civil case ready to go.

On December 4, Judge Woods held another proceeding, and ruled on motions in limine. He disagreed with Coop City that the prior disciplinary record of one of its employees can be kept out. Likewise, testimony about the time after Reyes changed status will come in. But events after discovery closed?

On December 17, Judge Woods held another proceeding, and Inner City Press covered it. The trial has been adjourned from January 25. The witness list and other exhibits have been filed into the docket, but the public and press cannot see them.

  The plaintiff's lawyer said he still works for Riverbay: he has a union job and the employment market amid COVID is not good. But he says there is still the threat of retaliation.

On April 28, Judge Woods held another conference, and Inner City Press again covered it. Reference was made to trial procedures amid COVID, to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and "perhaps the most toxic word" in the US today.

Judge Woods said if the trial's window is missed, it will have to wait until 2022.

On May 14, Judge Woods held another, seemingly final pre-trial conference. He described how jury selection will work on the first floor of 500 Pearl Street (Inner City Press recently covered jury selection in Judge Ronnie Abrams' US v. Hild reverse mortgage fraud trial).

  The parties asked how to refer to the time frame, and if they could say an exhibit was "admitted without objection." No, Judge Woods replied, let your adversary say, No objection."

The trial started on May 19.

On May 20, Reyes was in the (plexiglass) box, being questioned about support his supervisors had ostensibly offered, and e-mails to the effect. In half of the enlarged jury area sat eight jurors, and in the gallery, two women and Inner City Press.

The case is Reyes v. Riverbay Corporation, 18-cv-5092 (Woods).


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