Representative Cases

BECKER v. MURTAGH:  The firm was assigned by a major title insurer to defend the owner of a valuable waterfront parcel against litigation brought by neighbors claiming adverse possession and/or a prescriptive easement over his boardwalk, dock and private beach.  The case was ultimately argued before the New York Court of Appeals and now serves as binding legal authority on the doctrine of adverse possession.

GAUGLER v. TOWN of EAST HAMPTON:  The firm defended the Town of East Hampton and a number of its present and former police officers in a civil rights action claiming that plaintiff’s home had been searched without a valid search warrant after neighbors had reported to the police that the defendant had discharged a firearm on his property; and that the Town’s seizure of a number of plaintiff’s firearms had violated plaintiff’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed the case on summary judgment, finding that, because the arresting officers had probable cause to arrest the Plaintiff and seize his weapons on the date of the arrest, the appellate court’s ultimate reversal of the Plaintiff’s criminal conviction on jurisdictional grounds, did not give rise to a violation of Plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights.

CABLEVISION v. NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORP.Represented Cablevision in litigation involving the purchase of Cablevision’s headquarters building located in Bethpage, Long Island.  The property’s former owner had obligated itself to undertake asbestos abatement activities in the facility prior to conveyance of title.  During the performance of that job, fungi and mold developed which substantially interfered with future occupancy of the building.  At the title closing, the former owner had placed a significant portion of the purchase price in escrow, pending remediation of the mold condition.  That project ultimately cost approximately $3 million more than had been placed in escrow.  The former owner refused to pay any portion of the remediation costs, and this firm filed a breach of contract action on behalf of Cablevision.  The matter was settled.

MALISSA v. PENNZOIL PRODUCTS (SHELL OIL COMPANY):  Represented the defendant Pennzoil (later acquired by Shell), in an action seeking damages for loss of a finger and other severe personal injuries sustained by a mechanic in an explosion of a tire that had been inflated with a Pennzoil product, “Fix-A-Flat,” which had been marketed with flammable and explosive ingredients.  The matter was settled.

TRUSTEES of the FREEHOLDERS and COMMONALTY of the TOWN of SOUTHAMPTON v. INCORPORATED VILLAGE of WEST HAMPTON DUNES:  The Town and the Trustees filed an action in the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, against the Incorporated Village of Westhampton Dunes, its Mayor, and approximately 25 of its residents.  The action was for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to lands that were created when millions of tons of sand were deposited in Moriches Bay during two severe “Nor’easter” storms of December 1992 and March 1993, thereby extending the highwater mark of Moriches Bay hundreds of feet to the north.  The matter is still pending, although a number of parties have settled.

MERSCORP  v. EDWARD P. ROMAINE and THE COUNTY of SUFFOLK:  This firm represented the County Clerk of Suffolk County and the County in defense of an action for declaratory and injunctive relief instituted by MERS, a privately funded electronic recording system which was formed to substitute a private, restricted-access electronic recording system for public recording statutes which have been in existence in New York State for more than 200 years.  We argued the case through all courts and the Court of Appeals ultimately held that the statutes mandated recording of MERS instruments.  Two judges urged that the matter be referred to the State Legislature.

SAG HARBOR TITLE DISPUTERepresented the Incorporated Village of Sag Harbor in intensive negotiations aimed at resolving a longstanding, complex title dispute between the Village and a local resident involving the ownership status of a valuable parcel of waterfront property and two boat docks.  After researching deeds, maps, and surveys dating back to the 1830’s (prior to the Village’s incorporation), the firm successfully negotiated a written agreement that permanently resolved the dispute, thereby avoiding protracted and costly litigation.

FISCHER v. FORREST:  Represented the owners of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm,  a company that manufactured, marketed and sold beekeeping equipment, which was sued by the inventor of a beekeeping product, "Fischer's Bee Quick", who had advertised in Brushy's catalog for a number of years.  When the supply of Fischer's product became unreliable, Brushy purchased a different product that served the same function, and it discontinued Fischer's product.  Fischer sued under the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act alleging that Brushy had used and/or altered the copy from his "Fischer's Bee Quick" ads to advertise the replacement product, thus infringing on his copyright - a claim that Brushy disputed.  The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case and barred recovery of all damages, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal.  Fischer filed a Petition for Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The firm filed a brief in opposition arguing that the Petition should be denied, and the Supreme Court agreed, refusing to hear the case on the merits, and thus leaving the Second Circuit's dismissal intact.