Christopher D. Watkins is a graduate of Yale University and U.C. Berkeley Law School. He has been practicing law since 1996, with a focus on civil rights and employee rights. Since 1999, he has practiced in the New York Hudson Valley. For much of that time, he has worked with noted civil rights attorney, Michael H. Sussman. In addition to owning Watkins Law, Mr. Watkins remains Of Counsel to the firm of Sussman & Associates.
Mr. Watkins has won several high impact trials, including two of the largest employment verdicts ever at the federal court in White Plains, and favorably settled numerous other cases before trial. He is a skilled and talented litigator who treats each case as his most important. In addition to federal and state court, he has successfully represented individuals in arbitrations and administrative proceedings. Some highlights are summarized below. Please keep in mind that litigation is inherently uncertain and results in prior cases do not guarantee that the same results will be achieved in other cases, even if they are similar.
Rosario v. Village of Sleepy Hollow (S.D.N.Y.) (2020): A federal jury returned a verdict of $250,000 in favor of a Latino police officer who complained of race and national origin discrimination within the Village of Sleepy Hollow Police Department and was thereafter removed from a narcotics task force force and denied a promotion to detective.
Brennan v. Cunningham (S.D.N.Y.) (2019): A federal jury found in favor of a woman on her claim that she was subjected to excessive force when she was tased in her back by a police officer who claimed that he was trying to subdue her. The trial judge upheld the verdict as supported by the evidence.
Dancy, et al. v. McGinley, et al. (S.D.N.Y.) (2016): A federal jury awarded over $200,000 to a victim of a false arrest and excessive force by a City of Poughkeepsie police officer, and that verdict was upheld on appeal by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Romano, et al. v. SLS Residential Inc., et al. (S.D.N.Y.) (2015): With Michael Sussman, Esq., successfully settled a class action for $3 million on behalf of over 200 former residents of a mental health treatment center whose rights were egregiously violated. The lawsuit helped lead to the shutdown of the center.
Thankachan v. Peekskill Housing Authority (S.D.N.Y.) (2011): Executive Director fired due to race/ethnicity discrimination awarded $1 million dollars by jury (verdict upheld and damages remitted to $690,000 by trial judge);
Paolantonio v. Village of Sleepy Hollow (S.D.N.Y.) (2000) Female police officer awarded $2.35 million jury verdict for sexual harassment and retaliation (verdict upheld and damages remitted to $1,000,050 by trial judge);
Rodriguez v. Valentine (Orange Cty. Sup. Ct.) (2004): Female customer awarded $750,000 jury verdict based on sexual assault by her tailor (verdict upheld and damages remitted to $125,000 by trial judge);
Kern v. Layne, Village of Sloatsburg (S.D.N.Y.) (2010): Wife and husband awarded $200,000 by jury based on retaliation by local building inspector for wife’s political speech;
Franklin v. CityofNewYorkDOHMH (M.C.S.C.) (2013) Obtained $915,000 settlement for former director of dental services who was fired in retaliation for complaining of race and gender discrimination.
Mr. Watkins is a member of the pro bono panel of Hudson Valley Legal Services, and a member of the New York chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). He has trained other lawyers for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit in trial strategy, gender stereotypes in the workplace, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He is admitted to practice in New York and its federal courts as well as the Second, Third and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and is an inactive member of the Bar of California.