Watkins Law Wins Discrimination and Retaliation Trial on Behalf of Latino Sleepy Hollow Police Officer
In October, a federal jury in White Plains returned a verdict in favor of Officer Hector Rosario on his claims of race discrimination and retaliation. According to the closing argument of his attorney, Christopher Watkins, Rosario was subjected to a years-long campaign of retaliation after he first of complained discrimination within the Village of Sleepy Hollow Police Department. The evidence of retaliation included a Lieutenant posting a flyer on a bulletin board which depicted a large rat and the words, "Think Before You Speak!!!" written under it. Watkins argued that, among other things, Officer Rosario was denied a promotion and removed from a special narcotics unit because of his complaints of discrimination, which included a complaint about white officers pretending to shoot and kill fellow Black and Latino officers while playing a video game. The jury agreed and awarded Officer Rosario $250,000 in damages for lost pay and pain and suffering. The trial was covered by The NY Journal News; its story on the verdict is here: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/2020/10/13/sleepy-hollow-officer-hector-rosario-wins-250-000-verdict-discrimination-retaliation-claims/5974207002/
In November 2019, a federal jury found that a City of Middletown police officer used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution during an encounter with an Orange County woman. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a verdict for the plaintiff. Christopher Watkins tried the case with Stephen Bergstein.
Victoria Palmieri and her husband lived in Liberty Green in Warwick, New York, a federally subsidized apartment complex for low income seniors. Victoria has a severe pesticide allergy due to a past over-exposure to pesticides. In 2017, Liberty Green had a bedbug infestation. Management ineffectually dealt with the problem by having a pest control company repeatedly spray pesticides in Victoria's building. Many residents, including Victoria, started to get sick from the over-application of poison,. In December 2017, she was diagnosed with asthma and her doctor warned her that she should not be further exposed to pesticides.
In January, she presented management with a petition signed by a majority of Liberty Green residents asking that management use heat treatment instead of more pesticides. Heat treatment is widely recognized as more effective in eliminating bedbugs and is not dangerous to humans or pets. However, it costs more than pesticides. Management not only rejected Victoria's petition, it gave her a notice that it would begin eviction proceedings against her unless she allowed pesticides to be applied in her apartment. She and her husband were therefore forced to find significantly more expensive housing. Represented by Christopher D. Watkins, she is suing Liberty Green's owners, Jonah Mandelbaum and Warwick Properties, Inc.,, and its management company, Devon Management Corp., for violating her rights under federal and state law. Landlords have a legal obligation to reasonably accommodate the known disabilities and serious health conditions of their residents. Here, the Defendants not only failed to accommodate Victoria. They retaliated against her for complaining and organizing other residents. .
See a news story about the case here: http://westchester.news12.com/story/37757284/woman-says-pesticides-sprayed-in-warwick-apartment-complex-made-her-sick
Eleven years ago, while crossing a street, Karan Alexander was struck by a vehicle driven by distracted driver and suffered a spinal cord injury. As a result of the accident, she lost the use of her legs and relies on a wheelchair to get around. Remarkably, after several months in a hospital and several more of rehabilitation, she returned to SUNY Dutchess to successfully complete her associates degree in nursing. She then was certified as a Registered Nurse by New York State and has been an R.N. for the past nine years.
Recently, she applied and was accepted to SUNY Alfred’s BSN remote nursing program. The program was particularly attractive to Karan because classes would be held at SUNY Dutchess, near her home. However, when the nursing program’s director learned that Karan uses a wheelchair, she told her she could not be a nurse and could not continue in the BSN program. Karan explained that she already is a nurse and that there was no reason she could not complete the BSN program. But the college did not change its decision barring her from continuing.
Karan is suing SUNY Alfred in federal court for disability discrimination, represented by Christopher D. Watkins. The NY Post ran a story about the case shortly after it was filed last month: https://nypost.com/2018/04/02/nurse-in-wheelchair-sues-suny-for-alleged-expulsion-over-disability/
Watkins Law files same-sex harassment case against Town of Newburgh and the Town's Highway Superintendent. Read the newspaper article here: http://www.recordonline.com/news/20170306/town-of-newburgh-highway-official-accused-of-same-sex-harassment
Christopher D. Watkins and Stephen Bergstein win important police misconduct victory, Dancy v. McGinley, in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals upheld plaintiff Elting's verdict and ordered a new trial for plaintiff Dancy.
Read a news article about the case here: https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/crime/2016/12/08/ruling-affirms-city-police-used-excessive-force-teen/95144776/
Christopher D. Watkins and Michael H. Sussman settle class action against SLS Residential Services, Inc. for $3 million dollars, broadening civil rights protections for individuals residing in mental health treatment facilities.