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.

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.

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.

The Daily Beast: “Better Call Rosemarie! Meet the Lawyer Suing Christie Over Bridgegate”

Better Call Rosemarie! Meet the Lawyer Suing Christie Over Bridgegate
Rosemary Arnold says her clients—including a doggy-daycare owner—suffered when their town was jammed with traffic.

by Olivia Nuzzi
The Daily Beast
January 16, 2014

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/16/better-call-rosemarie-meet-the-lawyer-suing-christie-over-bridgegate.html

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, perched high above the Hudson River, is a white, slightly weatherworn building. It houses the law offices of Rosemarie Arnold, advertised in bold white lettering above the doorway. At the entrance of the office driveway, a sign informs you that you are at “The Personal Injury Center.” The.

Six days ago, a group of six New Jersey residents filed a lawsuit in federal court in response to revelations that suggested at least one official in Governor Chris Christie’s administration closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge as an act of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat. Rosemarie Arnold is the civil trial attorney who is representing those (now ten) residents. They are suing Christie, the Port Authority, ex-PA officials David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, and Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly.

Arnold’s website advertises her practice areas: car accidents, dog bites, workplace injuries, burn injuries, workplace discrimination, dangerous and defective products, truck accidents, construction accidents, fall-down injuries, spinal-cord injuries, and wrongful death. When we emailed, she responded to me from her iPad. Her sign off included a series of emojis: three ambulances, five bags of money, four shamrocks, and a rose.

Inside her office waiting room, which smells overwhelmingly of Italian food, a downtrodden client sits on a shiny, brown leather chair. He taps his foot and rests his head on the wall behind him, which is overflowing with thumb-tacked thank-you cards. The rest of the walls are decorated with framed press clippings, highlighting Arnold’s many high profile legal battles.

On the cover of US Weekly, with the headline “My World Was Shattered,” is an article about supermodel Christie Brinkley’s divorce. Arnold represented the young girl with whom Brinkley’s ex allegedly had an affair. The entire wall is devoted to this one case, with three other full-page clippings from the New York Post.

As I read the walls, Arnold, who sports a deep tan and dark brown hair, wizzed by, dressed down in jeans, a white tank top and a pink flannel shirt, “I’m running late, be with you in a minute!” Arnold barely looks 25, which is about how long she has owned her practice.

In front of a very large box of Advil, she began by explaining the terror that was the gridlock on the bridge. “People were screaming at each other, and cars were coming like within millimeters of each other, like trying to cut each other off and be first! It was stressful; it was anxiety producing; and it made everybody late!”

Arnold told me one of her clients was late to work and fired. She said she knew of a “newspaper delivery company that delivers The Times” who was affected, and has a client who owns a doggy daycare “right at the foot of the bridge” that couldn’t have pooches picked up or dropped off.

Arnold said her ten plaintiffs are just the ones they named, and she “expects the class to consist of over 100,000 people.” Arnold adds, “each persons’ damages need to be calculated, but I can’t imagine this case is worth less than tens of millions of dollars.”

The smoking gun text by Bridget Ann Kelly (“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”) is what Arnold says will win her case for her. The rest of the documents, she told me, weren’t even that important. And Arnold, a former supporter of Christie, said his gross misjudgment and mismanagement in Bridgegate has turned her. “The governor to me is a clear-cut defendant in this case. He is the captain of the ship, and he has publicly stated that this was his fault and his administration failed. He actually publicly stated that they acted, and these are important words, with ‘callous indifference,’ that’s purposeful conduct, that’s not negligence, okay? And the governor has proven to be a bully who takes steps to retaliate against those who don’t support him, so of course suing him puts people in a position where they might be subject to his wrath. I don’t fear that.”

Given Arnold’s familiarity with tabloids and television shows like Inside Edition, where she once appeared, I offer a comparison to Gloria Alred.

Arnold gives me a look.

“This is a serious law firm.”

From Politico.com: “Class-action suit filed over bridge”

Class-action suit filed over bridge

By JOSE DELREAL
Politico.com
January 9, 2014

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/chris-christie-bridge-lawsuit-101991.html

A class-action complaint has been filed in federal court against top government officials connected to the George Washington Bridge scandal, the Fort Lee, N.J., attorney behind the move said Thursday.

The complaint — filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey by attorney Rosemarie Arnold — takes aim at key players in the controversy, naming Republican Gov. Chris Christie, his formeraide Bridget Kelly, former Port Authority officials Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, the state of New Jersey and the Port Authority as defendants.
As a class action, the exact number of members has not yet been determined, but according to the filing, it “includes any and all individuals and business owners” who were inconvenienced or hurt by the lane closures between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13. According to Arnold, the plaintiffs work or live in or near Fort Lee or New York City and are citing economic damages by the lane closures.

The complaint follows a whirlwind week for Christie, who said in a press conference Thursday that he was blindsided by a report in The Record that said senior members of his staff were connected with the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

Arnold, who officially filed the complaint Thursday, said she was first contacted by potential plaintiffs about suing back in September when allegations surfaced that the closures were politically motivated. At the time, however, she was hesitant to move forward because of a lack of evidence. Following the revelation that top Christie aides were connected to the closures, she now feels confident moving forward.

“At the time, I said, ‘You know, you have to be able to prove it. You can’t have these unsubstantiated allegations,’” Arnold said. “Now I think we have what we need. This is not a situation that complies with the 14th Amendment.”

Moving forward, the class listed in the complaint has to be certified by meeting certain criteria; Arnold said she is “100 percent” certain those steps will be cleared.

Arnold also stressed that her clients were not merely “inconvenienced” by the road closures.

“I have a client that suffers from panic attacks. And while she was stuck in this traffic, she started to have a panic attack. She and her husband were just trapped like rats,” Arnold said. “She walked out of the car, she threw up, and then she just wanted to leave, but she couldn’t walk home. The traffic was disastrous. And this was a deliberate attempt. This was the desired result of the political motivated closure.”

Rosemarie Arnold chosen as “Super Lawyer” every consecutive year

Attorney Rosemarie Arnold has been selected as a “Super Lawyer” by New Jersey Monthly‘s annual “Super Lawyers” magazine for every year of its publication – for the past 11 years running, from 2005 to 2015:

Cardiologist wins $7.4 million for injuries in Hackensack drunken driving crash (The Record)

Cardiologist wins $7.4 million for injuries in Hackensack drunken driving crash
The Record
Friday November 19, 2010, 7:21 PM
BY KIBRET MARKOS, STAFF WRITER

http://www.northjersey.com/news/bergen/111910_Jury_awards_74_million_to_cardiologist_injured_in_Hackensack_drunken_driving_crash.html?page=all

A jury slammed the Excelsior Apartments complex in Hackensack with a $7.4 million judgment Friday, finding that an underage man was allowed to drink at a party there before causing a car crash that severely injured a prominent cardiologist.

“This verdict just shows you that people have no tolerance for those who serve alcohol to minors,” said attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who represented the doctor, Henry Lau, in the trial in Superior Court in Hackensack.

Lau, who was a chief cardiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center, was walking his dog in the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 2006, when a speeding car hit him on Clinton Place in Hackensack and fled the scene.

The crash broke both of Lau’s legs, his pelvis, back and several ribs. He also suffered severe facial injuries. He remained in the hospital and in rehabilitation for six months and underwent multiple operations, according to testimony at trial.

The driver, 20-year-old David Figueroa of Maywood, was later arrested and charged with assault by auto and leaving the scene of an accident. He was sentenced in May 2008 to two months in jail and five years of probation, along with 180 hours of community service.

Lau then sued the Excelsior Apartments, a pair of luxury high-rise towers on Prospect Avenue. Lau said in his lawsuit that building employees contributed to the crash by hosting a pool party where Figueroa was allowed to drink shortly before the crash.

The lawsuit also named a 21-year-old doorman, Gabriel Ortiz, alleging that he gave permission for the party to take place and allowed Figueroa to drink.

The issue before the jury was whether Ortiz was responsible for Lau’s injuries because he permitted a pool party in the building.

Jurors also were asked to decide whether the Excelsior, as Ortiz’s employer, was responsible for Ortiz’s actions.

Jurors found liability in both cases, assigning 55 percent of the responsibility to Excelsior, 25 percent to Figueroa and 20 percent to Ortiz.

The Excelsior, however, will be responsible for the payment of the entire damages. Under a state law on “joint and several liability,” a defendant who is assigned a large majority of the responsibility can be required to pay 100 percent of the damages.

Bruce Habian, the attorney who represented the Excelsior, did not return three phone messages.

The jurors awarded $5 million to Lau for pain and suffering, more than $1.7 million in compensation for lost wages and hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical expenses.

Joseph Tacopina, another one of Lau’s attorneys, said Lau, who is now 66, will continue to incur medical costs.

“He is going to need a cane for the rest of his life, and he will have to sleep on a special kind of mattress because of his injuries,” Tacopina said.

The jury also awarded $350,000 to Lau’s wife for “loss of services.” A person whose spouse is injured in such cases can sue under state law for “loss of services,” a broad category which covers enjoyment lost by one spouse as a result of the other’s injury.

Rosemarie Arnold featured in August 2012 edition of “Social Life” magazine

Unconditional Love – Heals
Social Life magazine – August 2012
by Christopher London, Esq.

NJ / NY Personal Injury Attorney Rosemarie ArnoldOn a warm July afternoon, I stroll into Sagg Main Store in Sagaponack to grab a sandwich. At the counter, like a shameless gawking school boy, I notice a casually-attired, gorgeous, petite, tan brunette, with a lean, well-toned figure, taut legs, and a posture which suggests a serious fitness regimen. As she places her order for three egg white, bacon and cheese sandwiches, instantly, I recognize the voice and realize it is none other than Super Lawyer and super mom, Rosemarie Arnold, the tireless trial lawyer and victim’s rights advocate.

I met Rosemarie back in the mid 1990’s while I was in the legal headhunting business. There was a buzz about a brilliant trial lawyer in New Jersey who was building a huge reputation for herself and getting multi-million dollar verdicts on cases other lawyers rejected or were too weak in the knees to take to trial. Arnold had emerged as a veritable plaintiff’s prophet or the patron saint of the underdog. Since then, she has developed a reputation as a “courtroom bulldog who won’t be leashed.”

It is rare to catch a free moment with the woman behind the Law Offices of Rosemarie Arnold, the largest personal injury & victim’s rights practices in Bergen County. The “Queen of Torts” now leads a team of experienced trial attorneys and legal staff who offer the same personalized legal representation that Rosemarie became famous for, to families and individuals throughout the tri-state area. Arnold’s highly-referred law firm offers an effective voice to victims of serious accidents, sexual assault, and discrimination in the workplace involving age, race, sex, disability, national origin or religious bias. When the Certified Trial Attorney is not tending to her prolific and high profile case load or serving as a super mom at home, Rosemarie is a sought-out legal expert who has been solicited to offer her expertise to various media outlets including the New York Times, New York Post, and Newsday as well as NBC News, CBS News, Fox News, The Today Show, and a Current Affair.

Arnold’s climb to the top of the legal profession had rather humble beginnings. Her father, who was a physician, passed away when she was five. Her mother, who was a teacher in the New York City public school system, raised 6 kids in a two-bedroom tenement with one bathroom in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. While she may have the mental DNA for success, she is a self-made woman of the highest order, whose reputation was built the old-fashioned way: dogged work serving the interests of one client at a time, and a relentless commitment to honing all elements of her craft. It is rare to find a lawyer so proficient, with such a strong and disciplined work ethic, a Zen-like strategic sense who is also filled with such compassion, professionalism, and understanding. How do I know? Simply put, she has represented me and those close to me with the greatest degree of care and proficiency. Ask Rosemarie about her impeccable standing with her clients, judges, legal experts, and the reverence she has from her adversaries. ”We brag about the client’s satisfaction, not the successful verdicts or privately negotiated settlements.” To her clients, she is the irreplaceable equivalent of having Socrates, Clarence Darrow, and Mother Theresa in a suit. Yes, she is that good.

Rosemarie has a tremendous sense of humor. In that regard, and as evidence that she does not take herself too seriously, she has a commercial running on NY1 starring 77-year-old identical twins, Iris and Fran, who happen to be her mother and aunt. In addition, one of her firm’s many URLs is suethesleazebag.com.

We start talking about success, the type of success that allows you to spend your summers on Sagg Pond Court in Sagaponack. I ask her what is the key to her success. “My life is fruitful and fulfilling. I give unconditional love to those who mean anything to me. I give that same love to my craft and my clients.” The woman who is writing a book entitled “Sue Unto Others” adds that “understanding your adversary’s perspective is critical to the amicable resolution of a case. If a reasonable resolution does not happen, you are better prepared to go for the jugular and dismantle your opponent.”

After that final nugget, Rosemarie jumps onto her Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle to bring egg white sandwiches to her children on the beach. As she notices me admiring her perfectly-toned Jewess form before pulling away, she reminds me that she deserves her ageless fitness-model form because she rides at least 20-25 miles per day and takes notes from a mutual friend, Dr. Mehmet Oz, for whose Health Corps Annual Gala she usually serves as a dinner chair.

Rosemarie Arnold: “A ‘super lawyer’ and super mom”

A “super lawyer” and super mom
from NorthJersey.com
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Last updated: Tuesday August 11, 2009, 2:30 PM
BY KARL DE VRIES OF TOWN JOURNAL

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/A_super_lawyer_and_super_mom.html?page=all

New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Rosemarie Arnold

Attorney Rosemarie Arnold

A self-described “slumdog millionaire” who grew up in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood to become one of the top personal injury attorneys in New Jersey, Saddle River Board of Education member Rosemarie Arnold is used to multitasking.

As the head of two firms comprised of 13 lawyers and 40 employees, Arnold has been named by New Jersey Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top 100 attorneys in the state every year since the listings began in 2003. A single mother of two Wandell children, Arnold has appeared on multiple television networks such as Fox News and MSNBC, delivering legal analysis over the past several years and, perhaps most notably, represented Joran van der Sloot in his civil case against the family of Natalee Holloway.

For Town Journal, Arnold described the beginnings of her 23-year career, the experience of being a talking head on TV and what she brings to the school board as a member serving in her second term.

Q: What made you interested in becoming an attorney?

A: I’ve always felt like I had to fight for everything and negotiate for everything, so I wanted to learn how to do it properly.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to practice personal injury law?

A: I got out of law school and I got a job with Christian Steuben’s office, because it was a Fort Lee address and that’s where I lived. I took the job to get my feet wet, and I was doing personal injury defense work, and that’s when I decided I actually wanted to be a lawyer representing the victims who got hurt. My job was to deprive them of their money, but my heart wasn’t there. My heart was to get them the money, because I always had a compassion for humans, so I flipped to the other side and opened up my own firm.

Q: How many cases do you manage at a time now?

A: I oversee 1,000 pending cases, along with the managing partner in this firm, Sheri Breen, who is my second in command. I handle probably about 25 of my own, the top 25.

Q: What makes them the top 25?

A: They’re worth the most money. They’re the most difficult and complex.

Q: Do you find it difficult to manage all of that?

A: No. I find it challenging to manage all of that and be a good mother to my two little girls, but I think I live up to the challenge.

Q: How did you come to represent Joran Van Der Sloot in the Natalee Holloway case?

A: My partner in New York City is Joe Saccopina, and he’s a high-profile criminal attorney. Joran found him on the Internet, from Aruba, and asked him if he could represent him in New York in a civil case that was being filed against him by Beth Holloway. It was a wrongful death case that was filed against him, and I got involved in that because I’m the civil attorney in our firm.

Q: What’s Van Der Sloot like?

A: I don’t know what he’s like now, but when I represented him, he was a devoted student, a respectable son and a confused teenager. I’ve read that he’s changed since then, and he’s done some things I wouldn’t condone. Unfortunately for him, his personality became the boy that was accused of killing Natalee Holloway. Eventually, there was no evidence that he had harmed her in any way.

Q: How many times have you appeared on TV?

A: I’d say about 100.

Q: Is it becoming old hat by now or is it still pretty cool?

A: I enjoy sharing my legal knowledge and experiences with everyone. Most of the TV appearances that I do have to do with cases I’m involved in. But sometimes I’m called in as an expert to comment on other cases.

Q: Do you get nervous before appearing on a national show?

A: No, but I’m much more comfortable talking about my own cases than commenting on other people’s cases.

Q: What compels you to serve on the school board?

A: I’m a public school-educated person, and I believe in the quality of education in our town. I think I bring something extra as a board of education member having a license to practice law, because there are a lot of legal issues that face the board on a daily basis. While I’m not the board’s attorney and I never act as the board’s attorney, I think like a lawyer because I am one.