NYC terror attack victim’s parents plan to sue city

By Bruce Golding; November 21, 2017 5:42pm

https://nypost.com/2017/11/21/nyc-terror-attack-victims-parents-plan-to-sue-city/

The parents of a victim in last month’s terrorist truck attack along Manhattan’s west side bike path filed notice Tuesday that they plan to sue the city over his grisly death.

Barbara and James Drake allege that officials were “grossly negligent” for “failing to remedy the known occurrence of frequent motor vehicles entering the bike path.”

Paperwork served on city Comptroller Scott Stringer and the Hudson River Park Trust says 32-year-old Darren Drake of New Milford, New Jersey, suffered “extensive trauma” along with “fear and terror of the impending incident” when he and seven others were fatally mowed down on Oct. 31.

“My clients are heartbroken because this terrible tragedy was 100 percent preventable,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Rosemarie Arnold said.

The Drakes also plan to sue the state and filed similar paperwork with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, she said. Their eventual suit will also target Home Depot, from which accused killer Sayfullo Saipov rented the flatbed truck used in the bloody attack, Arnold said.

Saipov, 29, allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for “God is great” – when he hopped out of the rented flatbed truck brandishing pellet and paintball guns following the carnage, that also left more than a dozen others injured.

The immigrant from Uzbekistan was busted when a cop on patrol nearby shot him in the gut, and allegedly asked for an ISIS flag to decorate his hospital room.

Authorities installed concrete barriers at 57 spots along the pathway afterward.

Last week, The Post revealed that data obtained by the NYC Park Advocates group showed 50 motorists were ticketed for driving on the path — and one was busted for driving while intoxicated — between January and October.

Stringer’s office and the Park Trust — which oversees the bike path for the city and state — declined to comment, while Scheiderman’s office didn’t return an inquiry.

A Home Depot spokesman noted that the company “cooperated with law enforcement throughout this ordeal to help them with their investigation.”

New Milford parents of terror attack victim intend to sue New York City

Joshua Jongsma, Staff Writer; Published 6:07 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2017; Updated 4:02 p.m. ET Nov. 22, 2017

http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/new-milford/2017/11/21/new-milford-parents-terror-attack-victim-intend-sue-new-york-city/887019001/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/11/21/nyc-terror-attack-victims-parents-sue-city/887635001/

The parents of a New Milford man killed in the New York City terrorist attack on Halloween intend to sue the city and multiple departments citing an unsafe environment that contributed to the attack.

Darren Drake, 32, was one of eight people killed on Oct. 31, when authorities say Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbekistan immigrant from Paterson, sped down a bike path in lower Manhattan in a truck he rented from The Home Depot. He allegedly knocked down pedestrians and cyclists, including Drake, before ramming a school bus.

Also Tuesday, Saipov was charged in Manhattan federal court with providing material support to the Islamic State group, along with eight counts of murder and 12 counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering. Numerous counts carry a potential penalty of death.

Drake’s parents, James and Barbara, are seeking monetary damages from the City of New York and its Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Transportation, and the Hudson River Park Trust.

According to the notice to sue issued Tuesday by attorney Rosemarie Arnold, representing the Drake family, the agencies being sued were “grossly negligent” in the operation of the bike path.

Officials responsible for the path did not recognize vehicles had “easy access” to the path and did not install barriers that could have blocked entry, according to the intent to sue document.

“All of the above entities were instrumental in creating and constructing the bike path, which should have been free and clear of vehicular traffic,” Arnold stated in an email to NorthJersey.com. “All of the above mentioned entities were aware that vehicles regularly either mistakenly or purposefully used the bike path but did nothing to curtail that problem. The terrorist, who did a test run of his terror mission, knew in advance that he would have unfettered access to the plaintiff and other victims.”

Messages left for the New York City Comptroller’s Office, which handles claims for and against the city, were not immediately returned.

A 2003 graduate of New Milford High School, Drake lived most of his life in the borough. He was pursuing a second master’s degree in technology management from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, and was a program manager for Moody’s Analytics at the World Trade Center.

“Darren was a highly educated, well-loved, successful 32-year-old man who was a happy, positive person who used biking as a means to stay healthy in mind and body,” Arnold stated. “His parents are heartbroken, especially since this terrible tragedy was completely preventable.”

A message left for James Drake on Tuesday night was not returned.

Darren Drake rode his bike on the lower Manhattan path every day to stay slim, Arnold said. On the morning of the attack he spoke to his mother and was distressed because he was too busy at work to take his ride that day, Arnold continued. However, one of his appointments canceled and he was able to ride his bike for an hour — the same time as the attack.

Barriers were credited with preventing more fatalities and injuries when a car plowed into pedestrians in Times Square in May.

The New York State Department of Transportation recommends bollards for paths shared by cyclists and pedestrians

“Unauthorized motor vehicles are banned from bicycle or shared-use paths,” the state’s design guide says. “Barriers should be provided.”

However, the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials calls them “ineffective” and says they may hinder access by emergency vehicles and cause serious injuries to cyclists who strike them.

Ridgewood father speaks on son’s brutal beating on school sports field

POSTED 7:12 PM, NOVEMBER 17, 2017, BY CHRISTIE DUFFY

Exclusive: Ridgewood father speaks on son’s brutal beating on school sports field

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Two New Jersey families have now filed suit against the Ridgewood School District, including students, and the social-media platform Snapchat after a teenage boy was video-taped being brutally beaten on school property.

The violent assault, which left the teen with a shattered skull, occurred on October 27 and again on October 28 on a school sports field.

“For the first week after I saw the video, I couldn’t sleep. The image is just so horrifying,” the father of the student beaten told PIX11 exclusively. He did not want himself or his son to be publicly identified and he did not want video of his son’s beating broadcast. “He’s got several titanium plates and screws to hold his skull and his face together.”

He said his son’s face is still numb and swollen from the assault. He’s had reconstructive surgery and he may need a second operation if the wounds don’t heal accordingly.

“In the media I’ve heard this called a fight,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold. “This was not a fight, this was an ambush and a beat down.”

According to the lawsuit and the teen’s father, a bully had been spreading rumors and circulating seductive photos of a female classmate at the high school. The teen beaten allegedly approached this student inside the school library and asked him to stop. In return, the alleged bully ordered a friend on the wrestling team to pummel the teen.

“This poor child was the only one who came forward and said you really need to stop this,” said Arnold. “And because he came forward, like he was taught, he got a beat down.”

The teenage girl and the teen beaten are the two alleged victims who are suing.

PIX11 contacted the Ridgewood Schools Superintendent for comment today. He referred us to earlier public statements published on the district’s website.

One reads: “[We] will use this recent incident to address ‘witness’ behavior as a school community. It is highly unfortunate that the incident – which happened after school hours on district property – resulted in unnecessary and unacceptable violence.”

New Jersey passed an anti-bullying bill of rights in 2010 in an effort to combat bullying in public schools.

“There is this whole thing now in high schools now, how they want you to try and intervene,” said Arnold. “They have interviews and they have training materials, but what they don’t do is they don’t teach you how to safely intervene,” said Arnold.

“Frankly, I’m disgusted,” said the boy’s father of the school’s response to the incident.

Teen whose beating was recorded by classmates suing high school

By Paul Milo, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com; Updated Nov 17, 2017; Posted Nov 16, 2017

http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2017/11/teen_whose_beating_was_recorded_by_classmates_suin.html

RIDGEWOOD– A boy who was beaten on public school property and a girl who was cyber-bullied are suing the school district, claiming they were victims of a cruel game involving social media that had been ignored by the district for years, their attorney said Thursday.

“Two years ago Ridgewood High School had this exact same problem where students were disseminating photos” and school officials failed to address the situation, said Rosemarie Arnold, of Fort Lee.

Police and school officials launched an investigation early this month after they learned of a male student who was allegedly beaten by classmates on school property outside school hours. The first incident occurred on Stevens Field, followed by a second incident on Brookside Field, according to Facebook posts and a news release sent out by Ridgewood police. The first fight happened around Oct. 23, according to a notice of claim filed by Arnold Thursday.

The youth was hospitalized after suffering serious injuries, including facial fractures and eye damage, Arnold said.

Students recorded the second fight and jeered the boy as it was occurring, Superintendent of Schools Daniel Fishbein said.

Arnold and family members say the boy was attempting to defend his girlfriend after pictures of her were circulated on social media. The girl was clothed in the pictures, which showed her from the waist up and had been sent to a prior boyfriend, Arnold said.

She also said that for at least two years students at the school have participated in a game the object of which is to collect nude photos of other students, which are then shared on social media.

“The board and the administration knew about this game but did nothing…The kids get a sense of ‘I have to handle this myself,'” Arnold said of the boy’s attempt to defend the girl.

The suit names Ridgewood High School and the Board of Education as defendants. The social media site Snapchat is also a defendant for allegedly failing to uphold its own policies governing certain kinds of photos.

A spokeswoman for the district could not immediately be reached Thursday night.

Restaurant Fired 12 Workers Who Took Part in Anti-Trump Immigrant Protest

by Alberto Luperon | 12:57 pm, February 19th, 2017

Restaurant Fired 12 Workers Who Took Part in Anti-Trump Immigrant Protest

An Oklahoma restaurant is, uh, hiring after a dozen workers were fired for no-showing work. But their absence had nothing to do with their former employer, “I Don’t Care Bar and Grill” in Catoosa. The 12 were taking part in Thursday’s anti-Trump “A Day Without Immigrants” nationwide protest.

“They feel like they’ve been unfairly terminated,” an unidentified friend told KTUL in a Friday report. The source explained that they no-showed work to stand in solidarity with immigrants.

This got them fired via text. Here’s how one string of messages went:

Employer: “You can your family are fired”
Employee: “ok tank [sic] you”
Employer: “And thank you”
Employer: “I hope you enjoyed your days off and you can enjoy many more. Love you.”

Restaurant owner Bill McNally confirmed the firings in a statement to the outlet. He said there’s a “zero tolerance policy for no show/no call incidents and the 12 employees violated that policy.” McNally said he’d fired employers for no-showing work before.

The former kitchen staff don’t agree with the decision, though they claim not to be mad at him.

“They feel like he could’ve done something for them since they’d been working for him [for 2 years],” the friend said.

The dozen didn’t want the outlet to publish their names and faces, so it’s actually not specified if they’re noncitizens, documented or otherwise. The only article mentioned that they’re all Hispanic, and a friend translated on their behalf.

As things stand, the workers have little legal leverage since Oklahoma is an at-will employment state. Employment law and personal injury attorney Rosemarie Arnold laid out the dynamics at play here.

“You are right about it being an at-will employment state and therefore anyone who was fired as a result of taking off on that day will have no recourse unless they were fired specifically because they are Hispanic, which is a protected class,” she told Law Newz. “That would be very difficult to prove. You can’t just take off from work to protest if your employer tells you you have to be at work. It’s the same thing as taking off because you want to go to the beach or because you want to go to a parade or take part in any other for cause or non-cause event.”

Tenafly DPW employee settles over discrimination lawsuit

Deena Yellin, Staff Writer, @deenayellin Published 3:16 p.m. ET Feb. 16, 2017 | Updated 9:04 p.m. ET Feb. 16, 2017

http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/tenafly/2017/02/16/tenafly-dpw-employee-settles-over-discrimination-lawsuit/97941938/

Tenafly has agreed to pay $400,000 to a Department of Public Works employee who claimed in a 2014 lawsuit that he was subjected to an abusive work environment.

DPW driver Aaron Perelli will be on leave until he retires in June, said his attorney, Rosemarie Arnold of Fort Lee.

Arnold said she had been looking forward to trying the case and “exposing all the disgracefulness that happened to my client.” However, things changed after a discussion with Tenafly officials.

“The monetary settlement was very fair,” Arnold said in a telephone interview. “There was a valid reason not to go to trial.”

In his 2014 lawsuit against the borough, the DPW and several Tenafly employees, Perelli of Fort Lee asserted that he was discriminated against because of his disability and that a hostile workplace atmosphere led him to have panic attacks.

Tenafly Councilman Mark Zinna said the incident stems from a situation in which “we had two people who did not get along. Words were exchanged. One of the parties decided to hire a lawyer and the other party is protected by his union contract. We made a business decision to settle this case. We wanted to reach an amicable solution with the lowest risk possible. Unfortunately, the taxpayers have to foot the bill.”

Perelli was hired by the DPW in 2002, and at that time he informed the borough that he suffered from agoraphobia, a psychological disability which prevented him from driving to unfamiliar towns and driving long distances by himself. Doing so, he said, would bring on anxiety and panic attacks.

However, despite an agreement that his driving duties would be limited to Tenafly and the surrounding area, his supervisors targeted him for having a disability, forcing him to perform out-of-town assignments and threatening him with job loss unless he did so, the lawsuit stated.

The suit claims that DPW foreman Ken Kraus harassed him with obscene language for having a disability. Kraus engaged in a “severe and pervasive pattern of mentally abusive, hostile and offensive behavior” directed at Perelli “for having a physical disability,” said the suit, adding that such behavior constitutes disability discrimination.

Kraus frequently threatened him and used abusive and biased language toward Perelli and his wife, who is half Jamaican, according to the suit.

Kraus is still employed by the DPW. He did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The lawsuit also claims Perelli continued to be assigned strenuous work following a serious back injury after he was thrown off a garbage truck driven by a drunken co-worker.

As a result of such experiences, Perelli will “continue to sustain severe pain, suffering and permanent injuries including physical health issues, several emotional distress, alarm, humiliation and anxiety,” and he will have to spend significant amounts of money for treatment, said the suit.

Zinna stated that Kraus has not had trouble getting along with anyone else and the DPW works efficiently. “They shovel the snow. They pick up the leaves.They clean out the storm drains. They do everything they are supposed to do and they all get along,” he said. “I don’t know of any other incidents where this sort of thing has happened.”

Harlem charter school choir teacher, 29, is jailed for sexually assaulting two boys aged 10 and 12 in sick fondling ‘game’ he made them play

  • Darnelle Watts was found guilty in January of predatory sexual assault against a child, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child
  • Until October 2015, Watts had worked as a choir teacher and aide at Promise Academy II in Harlem, New York
  • Prosecutors said Watts had repeatedly sexually assaulted two boys, ages 10 and 12, between the fall 2014 and summer 2015
  • Watts told detectives he touched the penis of one of the boys ‘by accident’ while the two were at a movie theater
  • On another occasion he fondled one of the boys in the school auditorium

By Snejana Farberov For Dailymail.com

PUBLISHED: 14:15 EDT, 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:48 EDT, 15 February 2017

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4228386/Harlem-teacher-gets-20-years-sexually-assaulting-boys.html

A former choir teacher at a Harlem charter school has been sentenced to 20 years to life in a state prison for sexually assaulting two young boys in his class.

Last month, 29-year-old Darnelle Watts was found guilty of one count of predatory sexual assault against a child and four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a press release announcing Watts’ sentencing on Wednesday that it took a jury just two hours to convict the teacher.

Watts worked as choir teacher and after-school aide at Promise Academy II, a charter elementary school in the Harlem section of Manhattan.

Prosecutors said during Watts’ trial in January that between September 2014 and May 2015, the 29-year-old repeatedly fondled a 10-year-old boy who was a student in his class. The attacks took place both on and off campus.

Watts was also convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old student between March 2015 and June 2015.

According to court documents filed in the case and cited by the New York Daily News last year, when he was interviewed by police about the allegations, Watts claimed that he touched the penis of one of the boys ‘by accident’ while the two were at a movie theater.

The 29-year-old told detectives that he and the child were playing a ‘game’ where they would hit one another’s genitalia.

‘I did ask (Doe) to pull his penis and I pulled out my penis. I touched (Doe’s) penis and (Doe) touched my penis. But I didn’t let him finish me off,’ he said when questioned over the molestation.

Watts, who at one time had been part of the famed Boys’ Choir of Harlem, later described another encounter with the boy in the elementary school auditorium, which involved the teacher and the student exposing their genitals and touching one another.

He further confessed to letting the grade-schooler look at pornographic material on his phone, including a photo of Watts’ penis, which he said he had snapped to send to someone.

‘I’m not circumcised. I like girls,’ he told detectives.

Watts was fired from his job at the renowned charter school in October 2015 after the sexual abuse allegations against him first came to light.

The families of the two victims last year filed a civil lawsuit against him, Promise Academy II and the city, accusing officials of failing to remove the predatory teacher from the classroom sooner.

Attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who is representing the victims in the lawsuit, told the DailyMail.com in a brief phone interview on Wednesday that she finds the idea of Watts getting out of prison at some point in the future to be ‘unthinkable’ after what he had done to her clients.

District Attorney Vance said in Wednesday’s statement that there is cause for concern that there may be additional victims out there, given that Watts had been in constant contact with children.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by Daily Mail, one of the victims, whose initials are N.T., is a learning-disabled student who had attended the school from 2008 to 2015.

The other plaintiff, who goes by initials M.H., was a fifth-grader who had been enrolled at Promise Academy II from September 2014 to July 2015.

The complaint accuses Watts of touching and groping the boys, ‘wrestling’ with them ‘so he could feel their bodies underneath their clothes,’ exposing his penis to NT and forcing the child to watch ‘sexually explicit pornographic videos on his cell phone.’

The lawsuit alleges battery, assault, negligent, intentional and reckless emotional distress, along with negligent hiring, supervision and retention.

Mom breastfeeds wrong newborn after hospital mix-up: suit

By Kaja Whitehouse and Reuven Fenton – February 10, 2017

http://nypost.com/2017/02/10/mom-breastfeeds-wrong-newborn-after-hospital-mix-up-suit/

A New Jersey woman claims she was handed the wrong child in the hospital for breast-feeding.

Melissa Richman, of Montvale, says in a new lawsuit that she spent about 20 minutes happily breast-feeding the newborn, who was handed to her by a nurse about 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 30.

“It was the middle of the night. I had just had a very serious, three-hour C-section. I was extremely sick from all the medication. I was not in my right mind, and I didn’t think to check,” the 39-year-old mom of three told The Post on Thursday.

Suddenly the nurse returned, yanked the child from her breast and finally handed her the right kid, the lawsuit says. But by this time, Melissa was empty of milk, said lawyer Rosemarie Arnold.

Her crying, hungry daughter, Scarlett, was forced to drink formula from a bottle, meaning she didn’t get her mom’s colostrum, the special milk that mothers secrete in the first days after birth and which aids the baby’s digestion and immune system while ridding it of lingering toxins, her suit says.

That mistake deprived Scarlett of the nutrient-rich colostrum that “rightly belonged” to her, says the lawsuit targeting Valley Hospital of Ridgewood.

Arnold said the 4:30 a.m. feeding was the second time Melissa had breast-fed after her daughter’s birth — leaving the mom worrying that she may have nursed the wrong kid the first time, too.

That would mean her own daughter might not have eaten since her birth, a total of 14 hours, the lawyer said.

“This is just a horrible thing for a mother,” Arnold said.

Adding insult to injury, Melissa was later forced to undergo three blood tests so that the hospital could ensure she didn’t pass any diseases on to the other couple’s child, the lawsuit says.

But the hospital staff took far less care when it came to Melissa and her own baby’s health, the papers say.

The nurse, upon realizing the mix-up, had immediately shoved Scarlett on Melissa’s breast without wiping the other baby’s saliva off first, leaving the Richmans’ daughter exposed to a potential transfer of bacteria and other health concerns, they said.

The family’s lawyer said Scarlett now suffers from reflux, rashes and allergies.

Meanwhile, the mix-up made the Richmans wonder for weeks if they had even taken home the right baby, Melissa told The Post.

“I was deprived of the opportunity to properly bond with my daughter those first few weeks until we had the DNA results back that assured us she was ours,” Melissa said.

Melissa and her husband, David Richman, are suing in Hackensack state court, alleging malpractice and seeking damages.

Valley Hospital did not return a request for comment.

Hospital Accused of Switched-at-Birth Breastfeeding Blunder in Lawsuit

By Chris Glorioso

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/Breastfeeding-Mother-Given-Wrong-Newborn-Baby-Mix-Up-New-Jersey-Hospital-Lawsuit-413329873.html

A New Jersey mother is suing the hospital where she gave birth, claiming nurses gave her the wrong newborn to breastfeed.

Melissa Richman, 39, of Ridgewood, says The Valley Hospital failed to double-check identification bracelets when maternity ward staff retrieved her hours-old baby for a 4:30 a.m. feeding. Twenty minutes into breastfeeding the infant, Richman says the nurse came back with shocking news.

“She actually said there was a terrible mistake. This was not your baby.”

In their lawsuit against The Valley Hospital, Melissa Richman and her husband David say the breastfeeding mixup deprived their newborn daughter of colostrum, the nutrient-rich milk produced by a new mother in the hours immediately following childbirth.

“She was frustrated and upset because there was really nothing left for her,” Melissa Richman said of her newborn.

“I had just nursed this other baby for 20 minutes so I was probably totally depleted,” she said.

The I-Team reviewed an 87-page medical file describing Melissa Richman’s childbirth and post-partum care. It makes no obvious mention of the breastfeeding mixup.

Rosemarie Arnold, the attorney representing Melissa Richman and her husband David, said those medical records raise the troubling possibility that parents of the mystery baby may not know their infant was drinking another mother’s milk.

“Who is the other baby? Is the other baby healthy? Who are those other parents?” said Arnold. “Maybe they’re out there and maybe they’re watching this and they’re going to say to themselves, ‘Oh, my God, that is us!'”

“It should be inconceivable that something like this could happen,” said David Richman.

Maureen Curran, a spokeswoman for The Valley Hospital, declined to comment on the lawsuit or on the medical center’s policies regarding the checking of patient ID bracelets before handing newborns over to parents.

Local Businessman Abused, Raped Teenage Niece For 3 Years, Court Docs Allege

Orient businessman and farm owner Steven Mezynieski allegedly tied up his niece with rope during the abuse, civil court docs say.

By Lisa Finn (Patch Staff) – February 3, 2017 4:37 pm ET

https://patch.com/new-york/northfork/local-businessman-allegedly-abused-raped-niece-3-years-15-court-docs-allege

A Long Island farm owner and businessman has been accused of raping and abusing his niece for a period of three years, and, in one incident, tied her up with rope without her consent in a greenhouse on his property during the alleged sexual abuse, court documents filed this week say.

According to a civil suit filed with the Suffolk County Supreme Court on Thursday, Steven Mezynieski, 44, who was charged with first-degree rape last August, began abusing his niece when she was 15, when she spent time at his Orient home due to the fact that her brother had just been diagnosed with cancer.

The complaint states that the abuse took place between 2012 and 2014 and details incidents when Mezynieski allegedly “took her on unsolicited shopping sprees and trips to Florida” and gave “her significant amounts of money” to single her out for special treatment. On those shopping trips he allegedly bought her lingerie, the documents state.

Mezynieski repeatedly performed oral sex on the teen without her consent, abused and raped her, the complaint states.

During one alleged incident, the complaint details, “As the rape continued, Plaintiff started screaming ‘no’ and in response, Defendant Steven M. Mezynieski choked” the teen.

The complaint also states that Mezynieksi allegedly forced the teen to drink alcohol and threatened ” . . .it would hurt her entire family if the truth came out, especially her mother who was worried about the cancer diagnosis of her brother and her.”

The young woman was diagnosed with a rare cancer herself in 2014, the complaint states.

Mezynieski’s attorney Eddie Burke Jr. responded: “These are bizarre and completely unfounded allegations intended to support false claims for money damages and smear my client’s good name. We will defend this lawsuit vigorously and not be subjected to a financial shakedown.”

Attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who has offices in Fort Lee, N.J., and midtown Manhattan, is representing the young woman, known in court papers as “J.G.,” now 20.

The amount of damages sought was not indicated in the court documents.

“It’s a sorry state when a human being is trusted with caring for his niece because her brother has cancer and instead of caring for her, he abuses her. What’s worse is this man has his own kids. He’s a child predator. He should be locked up behind bars,” Arnold said.

She added that the criminal case against Mezynieski is still pending.

“It’s very scary that a man who would commit these heinous acts is just walking around the upscale community of the Hamptons doing business with people who have no idea that he’s a predator,” the lawyer said. “He’s a sick and disgusting human being.”

In August, New York State Police in Farmingdale announced the arrest of Mezynieski. He was charged with first-degree rape, a felony, and first-degree criminal sex act, a felony, police said.

The charges are related to Mezynieski allegedly engaging in sexual relations with a female victim over the course of about three years, which started when the victim was under the age of consent, police said.

The investigation was conducted by members of the State Police Troop L Major Crimes Unit.

Mezynieski was arraigned before Judge Brian Hughes in Southold Town Justice Court and released on $25,000 bail, police said. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Later, the attorney representing Mezynieski said the charges filed against his client — charges of first-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act, felonies — were not accurate.

Sag Harbor-based attorney Burke Jr. said the charges need to be clarified by New York State Police, who filed them under an incorrect subsection of the New York State penal code, he said.

According to Burke, the charges are “inapplicable to an underage situation.”

Instead, Burke said Mezynieski’s charges, under the statute of “forcible compulsion,” meaning “against the alleged victim’s consent,” had “nothing to do with age.”

Burke said Mezynieski was charged with Section 130.50 of the New York State penal code, first-degree criminal sex act, and said that his client was facing a charge of “forcible compulsion. It has nothing to do with underage.”

Burke said the same was true of the charge of first-degree rape, Section 130.35 of the penal code, with “refers to rape by forcible compulsion.”

Mezynieski is the owner of Driftwood Farms in Orient. He also owns Steven Mezynieski Inc., an excavation services company in Southampton. He was before the Riverhead Town Board in 2013 over plans for a farm on Sound Avenue in Calverton.

In August, Burke said he entered “strenuous not guilty pleas” on his client’s behalf.

“I look forward to addressing this matter in the appropriate court and clearing my client’s name,” Burke said.

Long Island businessman repeatedly raped niece for three years, lawsuit alleges

BY REUVEN BLAU
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, February 2, 2017, 10:57 PM

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/businessman-repeatedly-raped-niece-3-years-lawsuit-article-1.2963067

A teen girl says in a lawsuit that her uncle, who owns a Southampton, L.I., excavation firm, repeatedly raped her over three years.

Steven Mezynieski, 44, first sexually assaulted the girl when she was 15, according to the civil suit filed in Suffolk County Supreme court Thursday.

The girl, identified by her initials J.G. in court papers, says the abuse began when she went on vacation to Punta Gorda, Fla., with Mezynieski.

Later, he used rope to restrain her in order perform oral sex on her without consent at his business, Driftwood Farms, the court papers say. The alleged abuse lasted from 2012 to 2014. “This man is a sick human being,” the girl’s lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, said.

Mezynieski was arrested and charged with sexual assault last August. He has entered a not guilty plea and maintains his innocence. If convicted of the most serious offense, he faces 25 years in prison. “My client adamantly denies the charges leveled against him,” his lawyer, Edward Burke, previously told reporters.

After Hurricane Sandy, Mezynieski’s excavation company was hired to rebuild the sand dunes guarding high-end homes by the ocean.

Costco accused of improper sales tax charges on toilet paper in New Jersey

CNBC.com
by Dan Mangan
Friday, September 16, 2016, 2:18 PM

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/16/costco-accused-of-improper-sales-tax-charges-on-toilet-paper-in-new-jersey.html

Don’t you know you’re not supposed to squeeze the Charmin toilet paper — or charge sales tax on it?

A New Jersey couple on Friday filed a class-action lawsuit against Costco Wholesale and several of its stores, claiming the membership-only warehouse giant has been illegally overcharging them — and potentially hundreds of thousands of other customers — by charging sales tax on toilet tissue purchases in violation of state law.

Toilet tissue sold for household use is exempt from New Jersey’s 7 percent sales tax.

But the couple, Jacqueline Taufield and Robert Arnold, said that they were charged the tax when they purchased Charmin toilet tissue on July 26, 2015, from a Costco in Wayne, New Jersey, and then again when they picked up some more Charmin in a Costco in Hackensack five days later.

The suit said that when the Leonia couple complained to Costco management after realizing they had been charged sale tax improperly, “they refused to issue a rebate to them.”

The couple’s lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, said, “Rather than refund [Robert’s] money, they told him, ‘Well, if you believe that, you have to mail your receipt to the corporate headquarters along with a letter and tell the corporate headquarters how you were improperly charged tax.'”
The couple was “annoyed and angry” about the charge, and that response, said Arnold, who is not related to Robert.

“The obvious solution is to say, ‘You’re absolutely right … we made a mistake, here’s your money back,’ ” the lawyer said.

The suit says that Costco “despite being aware of the illegality of their actions… continues to cheat their customers, causing them to incur monetary damages when they purchase toilet tissue.”

The claim, filed in Bergen County Superior Court, alleges violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligence, violation of the state’s “Truth-in-Consumer Contract,” and fraud.

A Costco spokeswoman, when asked for comment on the suit, said, “Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a response at this time.”

Arnold, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said the amount of tax charged improperly in the couple’s case is less than $1.50 in each purchase.

But nonetheless, Arnold said, “I think it’s huge problem” for Costco and its customers because of the likelihood that the couple were not the only ones subject to the incorrect tax charging.

Costco has 19 warehouse locations in New Jersey, according to the company’s website. And the suit says the class of potentially affected customers is more than 100,000 people.

Arnold said the potential damages for the class would be in the “millions of dollars.”

“Everybody uses toilet paper,” Arnold said. “You have to figure that a patron of Costco is always going to buy toilet paper.”

The lawyer also said it’s an open question of whether Costco “is actually paying the taxes to the government, or keeping the money?”

“Most likely, it’s the latter, because if they submitted tax resolutions to the government, the government would say, ‘This is an non-taxable item, it’s toilet paper,’ ” Arnold said.

A spokesman New Jersey’s Treasury Department, which oversees tax regulations, declined to comment on the lawsuit. But the spokesman noted that “large chain stores have point-of-sale cash registers that are programmed to charge sales tax on a variety of items.”

The spokesman also noted that the department does investigate complaints about stores improperly collecting or not collecting sales tax, and that anyone can file such a complaint anonymously.

Leonia couple sue Costco, alleging they were charged sales tax on toilet paper

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
STAFF WRITER | THE RECORD
September 16, 2016, 7:45 PM

http://www.northjersey.com/news/leonia-couple-sue-costco-alleging-they-were-charged-sales-tax-on-toilet-paper-1.1661653

A Leonia couple have filed a class-action complaint against Costco Wholesale, alleging that they were illegally charged sales tax on toilet paper at the retailer’s stores in Wayne and Hackensack.

Robert Arnold and Jacqueline Taufield lost only about $6, their attorney said, but their suit could have a big financial impact. They allege in their complaint that more than 100,000 customers could have been similarly affected.

“Conceivably, Costco has to return all of their money plus interest,” said the attorney, Rosemarie Arnold, who has no relation to Robert. “Plus, in this particular case, I think punitive damages are warranted because they know they can’t be charging tax on toilet paper.”

Lawmakers in New Jersey and many other states have exempted toilet tissue and other necessities to keep lower-income consumers from paying extra for things they must use on a daily basis.

Robert Arnold and Taufield allege in their complaint that they were charged a 7 percent sales tax when they purchased Charmin Toilet Tissue at Costco locations in Wayne and Hackensack. Both transactions occurred in July 2015.

When they asked managers for a refund, they were refused and told to contact Costco’s headquarters in Washington state, Arnold, the attorney, said Friday.

“Despite being aware of the illegality of their actions, Costco Wholesale continues to cheat their customers, causing them to incur monetary damages when they purchase toilet tissue,” the couple allege in their complaint.

The couple accuse the warehouse giant of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligence and fraud, as well as violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and something known as the Truth-In-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act.

Another open question, Arnold said, is what Costco is doing with the money that they are collecting on the toilet paper.

“I think that they’re keeping it because if they’re turning it over to the government, isn’t the government going to say, ‘This isn’t taxable’?” she said.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a response at this time,” a Costco spokeswoman said when reached for comment on Friday.

Costco is the second largest retailer in the United States and has about 18 locations in New Jersey, according to the complaint.

“Time Warner Accused of Exaggerating for Merger”

Time Warner Accused of Exaggerating for Merger
by Chris Fry
Courthouse News Service
Friday, December 11, 2015 9:31 AM PT

Read the full article at: http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/12/11/time-warner-accused-of-exaggerating-for-merger.htm

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) – Aiming to boost its stock for an upcoming merger, Time Warner Cable fired workers who resisted inflating subscriber numbers, five ex-employees claim in court.

The lawsuit filed in Bergen County Superior Court comes seven months after Charter Communications announced a plan to buy Time Warner Cable in a cash-and-stock deal that would make it the second-largest Internet and cable company in America.

Time Warner Cable shareholders approved the company’s $56 billion takeover by Charter Communications on Sept. 21.

Meanwhile the five recently fired Time Warner employees now suing the company estimate that the Time Warner and Charter Communications merger is “worth approximately $79 billion.” Their complaint is the Top Download for Courthouse News on Friday.

All former direct sales supervisors or managers of field sales at Time Warner, the five fired workers say that Time Warner sales reps were on the front lines of the fraud, but that encouragement for the practice came from higher-ranking executives.

The plaintiff workers claim to have a January 2015 email from Chris Van Name, the executive vice president of sales channels, that “specifically instructed sales representatives of TWC to ‘pull out all the stops’ and ‘get sales at any cost’ to ‘increase’ the volume of sales.”

Suing in Bergen County Superior Court, the employees say sales reps facilitated the fraud by creating “multiple TWC service accounts at the same location … under identities of various people living at the same location.”

They also created accounts “under incorrect or false social security numbers” and “under identities of people who were no longer living at said location,” the Dec. 1 complaint states.

Other times, employees created accounts under the names of people “whose accounts had previously been frozen or terminated due to ‘non-payment,’ but who still maintained [TWC’s] cable service equipment,” according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs say senior human resources generalist Marielys Mejia sent an email in November 2014, telling employees that Time Warner Cable would not suspend anyone accused of creating fraudulent accounts.

Behind the drive to create fraudulent subscribers, Time Warner hoped “to falsely inflate stock prices for the benefit of a potential merger with Charter Communications,” according to the complaint.

The plaintiff workers claim that they flagged the fraudulent “non-pay” accounts on several occasions, but that their supervisors “failed to properly investigate, address or report” the illegal activity.

One of the plaintiffs, Gregory Klein of Staten Island, N.Y., says sales director Lynden Armogan went so far as to mock him at a company dinner in March 2015.

“You should stop being so damn conservative all the time,” Armogan said, according to the complaint, allegedly telling Klein that “there is no need to do everything by the book” in front of co-workers.

Frederick Fischer, a plaintiff hailing from Somerset, N.J., contends that he attended a mandatory meeting in May 2015 where Armogan and Senior Vice President Blaine Altaffer “instructed the employees present to increase subscriber numbers so stock prices would rise within the next 120 days.”

With the plaintiffs vocally objecting to the “illegal, fraudulent activity,” they say Altaffer even threatened Fischer “by hostilely stating to him this is ‘a career making time for you, don’t blow it.'”

Another plaintiff, Nicholas Warren of Fort Lee, N.J., says he inquired in March 2105 about Time Warner installing a computer system that would prevent the creation of fraudulent customer accounts. He says Armogan “threatened” him by saying, “Get out of here, you should not be concerned with this.”

That May, Warren allegedly informed Armogan again that the company should have a computer system in place to verify customer identities and prevent the fake accounts. He says Armogan “angrily” told him such a move would compromise sales.

“Get out of here and never bring this up again,” Armogan said, according to the complaint.

Aside from the accusations related to inflated accounts, plaintiff Raymond Bailey, of Hackensack, N.J., also alleges a count of sexual harassment.

Bailey says he attended a Time Warner dinner at which Armogan began “rubbing his buttocks up against [his] leg at the event in front of his co-workers and wife.”

Armogan “continuously and systematically made romantic and sexual passes” at Bailey following the incident, the complaint states.

Time Warner fired the five workers behind the lawsuit on Sept. 10, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs, three of whom sued with their wives, seek damages for retaliation under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. They are represented by Rosemarie Arnold of Fort Lee.

Time Warner spokesman Keith Cocozza did not return an inquiry regarding the lawsuit.

Each of the supervisors mentioned in the article is a defendant to the action, which takes aim at a total of 12 individuals plus Time Warner and its corporate affiliates.

“Sanofi Whistleblower Alleges Company Attorneys Destroyed Documents”

Sanofi Whistleblower Alleges Company Attorneys Destroyed Documents
by Mark Terry
BioSpace.com
November 23, 2015 7:00:01 AM

Read the full article at: http://www.biospace.com/News/sanofi-whistleblower-alleges-company-attorneys/400601

As a whistleblower lawsuit against Paris-based Sanofi (SNY) steams ahead, ex-paralegal Diane Ponte alleges that Sanofi lawyers destroyed documents rather than provide them in other legal cases.

Ponte has accused Sanofi, among other things, of shifting $34 million in kickbacks and “incentive payments” to doctors and pharmacies to influence them to prescribe its diabetes drugs. Ponte claims she uncovered the kickbacks in March 2013 while reviewing nine contracts while she was working at the company’s New Jersey headquarters. The nine contracts totaled $34 million.

Seven of the nine contracts were with Accenture, two were with Deloitte. She alleges that these were direct incentives from Sanofi to physicians, hospitals and pharmacies to illegally influence them to prescribe Sanofi’s diabetes drug over other companies’ products. In addition, she alleges that Chris Viehbacher’s firing in October 2014 was in part due to the allegations.

Ponte’s lawsuits also states that when she resisted signing off on the agreement, she was subjected to a “severe and pervasive pattern of workplace retaliation.” She was fired on October 29, 2014. In her complaint, Ponte says her supervisors referred to her as a “ditz,” “dingbat,” “lunatic” and “scatterbrain.”

Ponte’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold, in October 2014, told Bloomberg Businessweek, “The acts surrounding her termination from the company were blatantly related to her whistle-blowing activity. She was a model employee before that.”

Now Ponte has filed an affidavit in Newark, New Jersey court, stating, “In the course of my working in the Sanofi litigation department, I became personally aware of many instances in which documents were deliberately destroyed by Sanofi attorneys to avoid turning over said documents in discovery.”

Although Sanofi has indicated that it does not comment on pending litigation, the company last year referred to Ponte as a “disgruntled former employee who is opportunistically attacking our company,” and further said her accusations of employment law violations were “without merit.”

The company is being a little more harsh in their wording over this most recent allegation, with Sanofi attorney John Bennet saying her claims were “false, scandalous and unsupported by any evidence.”

However, despite attempts by Sanofi’s attorneys to remove that particular paragraph from the affidavit, Essex County Judge Michelle Hollar-Gregory refused.

Further allegations include that Sanofi’s North American general counsel, Robert DeBerardine, and another company attorney, Edward Berg, were not licensed in New Jersey to practice law during at least part of their tenure at Sanofi. This is required by state Supreme Court ruling for in-house counsel.

Sanofi has also requested that Ponte or her attorneys return company documents that they possess. Sanofi’s Bennett argued in court that Ponte had stolen the documents and that they were not subject to attorney-client privilege. One of Ponte’s lawyers, Chris Dubin, retorted, “It’s not true!” referring to the theft. Rosemarie Arnold, Ponte’s lead attorney, did say that many of the papers were not subject to attorney-client privilege because they had been seen by many people not in Sanofi’s legal department. Judge Hollar-Gregory has overruled Sanofi’s requests.

At least some of those documents include an email from one of Sanofi’s in-house lawyers, Berg, written on March 21, 2013. The email, which is in court records, refers to his quick review of Accenture contracts, which actually expresses concern over the contracts, saying it “has almost no meaningful deliverables, is poorly constructed and incorrectly mentions Regulatory Review. … My initial overall take is that the contract violates almost every principal of financial stewardship and good business practices, with few deliverables, an outlandishly short time frame, no consideration as to the clear legal issues in these types of engagements with customers.”

Despite those apparent concerns, Ponte alleges Sanofi insisted on approval.

CNBC.com: “Sanofi whistleblower lawsuit kicks into higher gear”

Sanofi whistleblower lawsuit kicks into higher gear
by Dan Mangan
CNBC.com
Friday, 20 Nov 2015 | 2:38 PM ET

Read the full article at: http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/20/sanofi-whistleblower-lawsuit-kicks-into-higher-gear.html

A whistleblowing former paralegal at drug giant Sanofi is now claiming she was aware of “many instances” where Sanofi lawyers destroyed documents to avoid turning them over to opponents in prior legal cases.

Ex-Sanofi paralegal Diane Ponte’s new allegation comes in an affidavit she filed in her pending lawsuit against the company.

Ponte’s suit, filed last year, claims she learned of an alleged scheme at Sanofi to pay more than $30 million in kickbacks to promote the company’s diabetes drugs. The suit came a year after the France-based drug company already agreed to pay more than $100 million to the U.S. federal government to settle other claims related to alleged kickbacks to doctors, and seven months after Sanofi agreed to pay a nearly $40 million fine in Germany in connection with two employees who were convicted there of paying bribes to boost drug sales.

“Prior to my last position with Sanofi, I had been working in the Sanofi litigation department for approximately seven years,” Ponte wrote in her affidavit in Newark, New Jersey, court. “In the course of my working in the Sanofi litigation department, I became personally aware of many instances in which documents were deliberately destroyed by Sanofi attorneys to avoid turning over said documents in discovery.”

The term “discovery” refers to the process in which opponents in civil litigation exchange documents and other evidence that are relevant to issues in their case, and which could affect the outcome of that case.

Sanofi, when contacted by CNBC about ongoing issues related to Ponte’s case, said, “Sanofi does not comment on pending litigation.” Last year, when Ponte’s case was filed, it referred to her as a “disgruntled former employee who is opportunistically attacking our company,” and called her allegations of employment law violations “without merit.”
However, Sanofi attorney John Bennett recently argued in legal motions that Ponte’s claim of document destruction was “false, scandalous and unsupported by any evidence.”

Bennett also said that Ponte, while working at Sanofi, had never reported any such document destruction to the company’s internal complaints system despite that she would have had an obligation to do so under Sanofi’s Code of Business Conduct.

But Essex County Judge Michelle Hollar-Gregory refused during a hearing last week to strike the paragraph in Ponte’s affidavit that alleges the document destruction by Sanofi’s lawyers.

Court filings reveal other new details in the case.

Ponte’s affidavit says that Sanofi’s North American general counsel, Robert DeBerardine, and another lawyer at the company, Edward Berg, were not licensed to practice law in New Jersey for at least part of the time they were working as lawyers at Sanofi. That’s despite Sanofi’s North American headquarters, where Ponte had worked, being located in that state, and despite a state Supreme Court rule requiring in-house counsel at a company to obtain at least a limited license if they want to practice law in the state.

Sanofi claims in court papers that the two attorneys’ law license status isn’t relevant to Ponte’s case, particularly since they were licensed to practice elsewhere in the United States. Sanofi also claims that DeBerardine applied for limited in-house counsel status in April 2013 and had it granted just last month. Berg’s own June 2015 application for that status “is currently pending,” the company said.

Ponte’s suit filed last December claims that she was fired in September 2014 in retaliation for bringing the alleged kickback scheme to light, which led to an internal probe at Sanofi. She also claims that Sanofi’s board fired then-CEO Christopher Viehbacher in October 2014 “in part” because Viehbacher “was involved in the aforesaid illegal and/or fraudulent activity.”

The suit from Ponte alleges she was pressured in March 2013 to approve nine pending contracts Sanofi had with Accenture and Deloitte worth a total of $34 million. Her suit says that despite that she was being asked to review the contracts’ legality, she learned they had actually been executed by Sanofi executive Raymond Godleski four months beforehand.

Her suit claims she determined that the contracts involved illegal incentives from the three companies to “induce customers, including physicians, hospitals and/or retail pharmacy programs such as Walgreens and Rite Aid to [among other things] influence the prescribing of drugs and/or improperly ‘switch’ from selling other manufacturers’ drugs … to selling Sanofi drugs, in violation of the aforesaid Federal healthcare laws.”

Such alleged kickbacks or incentives are illegal because they can encourage the prescription of drugs covered by federal Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs, which in turn could mean that those programs end up paying more in reimbursements than they otherwise would have.

In 2012, Sanofi agreed to pay the federal government $109 million to resolve allegations that the company violated the federal False Claims Act by giving physicians free units of the knee injection Hyalgan in order to induce them to buy and prescribe the drug, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.

In March 2013, two ex-Sanofi employees were sentenced by a court in Germany to suspended sentences, and Sanofi was fined 28 million euros ($29.8 million) in connection with a bribery case there. A spokesman for prosecutors told the Reuters news agency that the former employees made illicit payments to a consulting company that was advising a Sanofi client in order to get the client to order more drugs from Sanofi.

“Sanofi was unfairly given preference because of this,” the spokesman told Reuters. A spokesman for Sanofi told that news agency earlier this year that the company had cooperated with the probe and had tightened its compliance system.

Also related to the ongoing case in New Jersey, Judge Hollar-Gregory last week refused, as least for now, to order Ponte or her lawyers to give back to the company documents related to Sanofi that are in their possession.

A CNBC reporter was present when Sanofi’s lawyer Bennett argued in court that many if not all of the documents are subject to attorney-client privilege, and that Ponte had stolen the documents.

“It’s not true!” angrily protested one of Ponte’s lawyers, Chris Stueben, when Bennett referred to Ponte’s alleged “stealing” of company information.

Ponte’s lead lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, said that many of the documents would not be subject to attorney-client privilege because they were seen by people not connected to Sanofi’s legal department, as well as for other reasons.

“She was bullied by them,” Arnold said of Sanofi, which is accused in Ponte’s suit of creating a hostile work environment after she made her claims of wrongdoing there. “And now they’re trying to bully her some more.”

Among the documents that Ponte had in her possession is an email from one of Sanofi’s in-house lawyers, Berg, written on March 21, 2013, after he was asked to review some contracts that had been flagged by Ponte as having potential legal issues.

Berg’s email, which is in court records, has the subject line “contracts with Accenture.”

Berg, writing that he was giving “a relatively quick review,” said in the email that “the contract has almost no meaningful deliverables, is poorly constructed and incorrectly mentions Regulatory Review, with no mention of Legal review, when in fact the issues are most likely to create legal risk (kickback) rather than regulatory.”

“My initial overall take is that the contract violates almost every principal of financial stewardship and good business practices, with few deliverables, an outlandishly short time frame, no consideration as to the clear legal issues in these types of engagements with customers,” Berg wrote.

Despite Berg’s apparent concern, Ponte alleges the company pushed for approval of the contracts.

Accenture and Deloitte are not named as defendants in Ponte’s lawsuit. Accenture declined CNBC’s request for comment when Ponte’s suit was filed last year. Deloitte said at that time that “we are confident our contracts and services were entirely appropriate.”

CNBC also has spoken to a former Sanofi contractor, who on Tuesday of this week described how then-Sanofi executive Godleski allegedly pressured her to enter incorrect codes for purchase orders so that the companies that were the subject of the questionable contracts, Accenture and Deloitte, could start getting paid.

The ex-contractor, Jean Kazimir, said Godleski, who is named as a defendant in Ponte’s lawsuit, wanted the companies to get paid even though the contracts hadn’t been approved by Sanofi’s legal department, and despite that the purchase orders would have been for goods instead of for the services that were detailed in the contracts.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Kazimir told CNBC. She said she had told Godleski he would need to put his request in writing, but that he never did so.

Kazimir’s account is also cited in a federal class action lawsuit filed in Manhattan by shareholders against Sanofi. That suit alleges the company and then-CEO Viehbacher misled investors and inflated Sanofi’s stock price by touting sales growth of its diabetes drugs “while omitting disclosure of the illegal practices used to achieve those sales.” Those alleged illegal practices include the same ones at the center of Ponte’s state court lawsuit.

Sanofi “funneled tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in disguised payments to consultants Accenture and Deloitte, which according to whistleblowers served as middlemen in a scheme to induce pharmaceutical retailers and hospitals to favor Sanofi’s diabetes drugs over competing drugs from Novo Nordisk,” the Manhattan federal court suit claims. The whistleblowers are identified in the suit as Ponte and Kazimir.

Godleski’s lawyer declined to comment on Kazimir’s allegations.

Sanofi has asked a federal judge to dismiss the shareholders’ lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs have failed to lay out sufficient legal grounds for their action.

New Jersey Law Journal: “Suit Against CVS Claims Eye Drops Were Tainted by Caustic Chemical”

By David Gialanella
NJLawJournal.com
May 15, 2014

A CVS Pharmacy customer alleges in a New Jersey state court suit that store-brand eye drops contained bleach or peroxide, causing serious injury to his eyes.

Gregg Schwack of Fort Lee, in a suit filed Thursday, alleges that the CVS Pharmacy Redness Relief drops he purchased at a store on River Road in Edgewater on March 30 were contaminated or adulterated.

Schwack applied the treatment to both eyes and immediately felt extreme pain and burning, despite attempts to flush his eyes, and detected the smell of bleach, according to the complaint and his lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, who heads a Fort Lee firm.

In the weeks since, he’s made numerous doctor visits but still experiences puss, soreness, swelling and blisters in his eyes, Arnold said.

He “was disabled and disfigured and has suffered and will continue to suffer great mental and physical pain and torment,” and “will be in the future compelled to spend great and diverse sums of money for medical aid and treatment, and has been and will be prevented from attending his usual occupation, duties, activities and business,” said the complaint in Schwack v. CVS Pharmacy Inc., filed in Bergen County Superior Court.

The drops were in a sealed container in a sealed box that “was not tampered with” after manufacture, and Schwack applied them as directed, Arnold said.

The suit alleges negligence, gross negligence and recklessness, breach of express and implied warranty, and strict liability under the theory of res ipsa loquitor, which presumes negligence by the nature of the injury.

CVS “put or caused to be put a dangerous product in the stream of commerce” and “must be held strictly liable in tort,” the complaint stated.

The complaint also alleges that Schwack “is the intended third-party beneficiary under a policy or policies of insurance held by defendants…for the payment of medical expenses as the result of the subject accident.”

Arnold said she has asked CVS to cover Schwack’s medical expenses, but the corporation denies that the eye drops could have been contaminated as alleged and has not given a definitive answer on the medical coverage.

The suit names CVS Pharmacy Inc., CVS Caremark and Altaire Pharmaceuticals, which manufactured the drops for CVS.

Arnold said she’s not aware of any other allegations of contaminated CVS eye drops, but last September Altaire voluntarily recalled some lots of an eye care product sold by CVS, Eye Drops for Mild to Moderate Dry Eye, because a preservative contained in the solution could have become ineffective and permitted mold growth. Altaire characterized the recall as precautionary, according to a notice from the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

Schwack, 48, works for Bravo TV and Food Network as a consulting chef and is father to two young boys, according to Arnold.

CVS spokeswoman Christine Cramer didn’t return a call or respond to an email seeking comment late Thursday.

A call to Altaire Pharmaceuticals of Riverhead, N.Y., was not returned.

Read full article at: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202655551193/Suit-Against-CVS-Claims-Eye-Drops-Were-Tainted-by-Caustic-Chemical

New York Post: “Woman sues Live Nation after seat full of splinters”

By Julia Marsh
NYPost.com
April 28, 2014

A woman got a rude surprise when she politely slid to the other side of a bench to make room for a fellow Westbury concertgoer — a backside full of splinters.

Linda Vanston, a schoolteacher from New Jersey, is suing the NYCB Theater at Westbury on Long Island over the injury.

“She was not aware that the bench had exposed sharp shards of wood sticking out of it,” said her lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold.

“She stood up to look at what had happened, and she saw the frayed wood on the bench.”

Vanston, 55, was wearing silk pants and sitting on the bench outside the Engelbert Humperdinck concert on April 29, 2011.

The 1,000 splinters that wedged in her thighs and buttocks have been coming out, around a dozen a day, since then, Arnold said.

Vanston has received “painful injections to help dislodge,” them, her Nassau County Supreme Court suit says. She also had to take time off work and has limited mobility from the incident.

Vanston and her husband are seeking unspecified damages.

Reps Live Nation, which owns the venue, did not return messages for comment.

Read full article at: http://nypost.com/2014/04/28/woman-sues-live-nation-after-seat-full-of-splinters/