Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label lawsuits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lawsuits. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Should NYer's have a Constitutional Right to Clean Air and Water, and a Healthful Environment?

This question is on the ballot on November 2nd.

The answer seems simple, but with early voting starting in New York this Saturday, October 23rd, have you considered the implications of Proposal 2 of the statewide ballot, to make New Yorkers have a constitutional right to "clean air and water, and a healthful environment?"

In 1996, the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, explained that a constitutional right may provide for an "action for damages for violation... against a government or individual defendants." However, the Court did not say that all constitutional violations give way to a damages action, in that case, Brown v. State. So, it remains unclear if courts will permit private citizens to be awarded damages from polluters if Proposal 2 is passed in the statewide ballot. That being said, Senator Robert Jackson, who sponsored Proposal 2, believes that the amendment will give New Yorkers "the right to take legal action for a clean environment," per BallotPedia

Do you think that private citizens should be awarded damages for suing companies that damage our clean air, water and a healthful environment? Shouldn't the money go back to the State to fix the damage rather than into a private individual's pocket? 

Where is the line? 

Should truck drivers be sued if they don't switch to electric vehicles? 

How about private jet passengers? 

Shouldn't this be thought-out before we open the private lawsuit free-for-all? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Attention Landlords - Source of Income Discrimination Lawsuits are Coming as of 9/14/2021

On July 16, 2021, new Executive Law 170-e was signed into law and requires that all administrators of housing assistance (governmental / nonprofits) ensure that "individuals who have applied for and are eligible to receive such assistance, payment, subsidy or credit are informed, in writing, of their rights and remedies available under law, with regard to lawful source of income discrimination.”

The law is effective as of September 14, 2021 and that is an important deadline for landlords, brokers, and property managers to get up to speed on the rules to avoid source of income discrimination in their ranks.

To illustrate, a housing provider who requests a credit score from a voucher recipient could be discrimination, a housing provider who demands a minimum income from a voucher recipient could be discrimination, and a housing provider who makes receipt of a voucher a precondition to seeing units could be discriminating.

Do you have policies in place to avoid your team discriminating and subjecting you to a major lawsuit??

More so, those policies better include the forthcoming regulations that the State Division of Human Rights is going to promulgate to particularize this new law.

Are you ready? 

Monday, November 02, 2020

New Debt Collection Law Starting on OCT 30, 2021

There are new laws about debt collecting starting on October 30, 2021. 

Specifically, amendments to Regulation F (12 CFR Part 1006), which implements the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), were published on October 30, 2020 in the Federal Register and when these amendments become effective, on October 30, 2021, the entire debt collection industry in the United States will be forever changed.

These changes mainly concern updating the FDCPA with respect to its application to modern forms of communication via technology, inclusive of a safe harbor for communications via text or email. However, the final rule is 653 pages so it's far more extensive than that simplistic understanding and should be reviewed, at length, by any industry participant. 

To navigate the rule, it's recommended that you utilize the table of contents. The main sections of the amendment, which should be studied, are as follows:

  1. Communications in Connection with Debt Collection;
  2. Acquisition of Location Information;
  3. Harassing, Oppressive, or Abusive Conduct;
  4. False, Deceptive, or Misleading Representations;
  5. Unfair or Unconscionable Means;
  6. Other Prohibited Practices;
  7. Disputes and Requests for Original-Creditor Information;
  8. Sending Required Disclosures; and 
  9. Record Retention

As background, the FDCPA was enacted in 1977 because "[t]here [was] abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors" whereas these practices "contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy." According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "[d]ebt collection is estimated to be a $12.7 billion-dollar industry employing nearly 123,000 people across approximately 7,800 collection agencies in the United States." 

Make no mistake, these regulations are particularly important because "[c]onsumers... file thousands of private actions each year against debt collectors who allegedly have violated the FDCPA." Available damages in these lawsuits include up to $1,000 plus attorneys' fees for individuals and up to $500,000 or 1% of the net worth of the debt collector for class actions (15 USC 1692k). As a result, debt collectors who are unfamiliar with these amended rules, when they become effective, are in for a world of hurt. 


By the way, there is going to be another rule on this topic in the nearterm and it will address the required disclosures when debt collectors are pursuing time-barred debts (A/K/A, outside the applicable statute of limitations for suit). Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Have you been the victim of employment discrimination?

Attention Employees - Have you faced inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of your age, race, creed, color, national original, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or because you have opposed discrimination at work?

Did you know that you only need to prove that this discrimination rises above what a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristic would consider petty slights or trivial inconveniences to win your claim?

Did you know that you can recover lost wages?
Are you aware that you can be reinstated into your job?
Better yet, did you know that your employer could be required to pay you punitive damages (punishment)?

Guess what? Courts have been directed to award you reasonable attorney's fees if you win. This means that your employer's exposure goes up the entire time that they are defending the claim - it's a huge motivation for your employer to settle with you quickly.

Yesterday, 8/12/19, you were given a voice by the Governor - it's time for you to use that voice and speak up to end discrimination in the workplace.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Alert: Cuomo Makes it Easier for Workplace Sexual Harassment Claims

Attention Employers and HR!!!!

Cuomo signs sexual harassment law- as we first reported on June 19, 2019, A08421 passed both houses and now Cuomo has made it the law of the State of New York.

The legislation does the following:
  • Changes the severe or pervasive standard of harassment to a very low standard of more than petty slights or trivial inconveniences;
  • Eliminates part of the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense to a lawsuit by making the fact that the employee did not make a complaint about the harassment to the employer not determinative as to liability;
  • Extends protection for non-employees in the workplace to all protected classes;
  • Allows courts to award attorney's fees on all claims of employment discrimination, and allow for punitive damages in employment discrimination cases against private employers;
  • Provide that the Human Rights Law is to be construed liberally for remedial purposes, regardless of how federal laws have been construed;
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses for discrimination claims;
  • Prohibit non-disclosure agreements in any settlement for a claim of discrimination, unless it's the complainant's preference;
  • Provide that any term or condition in a non-disclosure agreement is void if it prohibits the complainant from initiating or participating in an agency investigation or disclosing facts necessary to receive public benefits;
  • Require that employees be notified that non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts cannot prevent them from talking to the police, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the State Division of Human Rights or a similar local entity, or a lawyer;
  • Extend the authority of the Attorney General to prosecute certain civil and criminal cases of discrimination against all protected classes;
  • Require the Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights to evaluate the impact of the model sexual harassment prevention policy every four years and update the policy as needed;
  • Require any term or condition in a non-disclosure agreement be provided in writing to all parties, in plain English and the primary language of the complainant;
  • Require the commissioner of the Labor Department to prepare templates of the model policy in languages other than English;
  • Require every employer to provide employees with their sexual harassment policy in English or their primary language when they are hired and during training; and
  • Extend the statute of limitations to file a sexual harassment complaint with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years.

Visit to keep your company safe from discrimination claims while maintaining a safe workplace for all.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Insurance Notice & Disclaimer of Coverage

On Eye on Real Estate this past Saturday, we discussed insurance and the need to provide timely notice in accordance with the terms of an insurance policy if you have an insurance claim.

Let me make this point completely clear - Do Not Trust Your Insurance Agent and make sure you give notice pursuant to the express terms of the policy if you have a claim. This is particularly true if you are being sued.

To understand the importance of this, you should read Insurance Law 3420 and the case of Villavicencio v. Erie Insurance Company.

Yes, it is true that the law's purpose and express language makes it very difficult for an insurer to disclaim coverage for insufficient notice. However, subsection (c)(2)(B) creates a lot of risk in an insured who is relying on the language of the statute to avoid disclaimer if such insured receives a summons and complaint in a lawsuit. (c)(2)(B) explains that if an insured defaults in a court case prior to notifying their insurer, that insurer can properly disclaim coverage. Additionally, subsection (c)(2)(B) creates further risk because it provides that if failure to notice impairs the ability to investigate or defend, the policy can likewise be disclaimed.

So, please don't just trust a law designed to protect consumers, instead - NOTICE YOUR INSURER WHEN YOU ARE SUED.