Articles Posted in Civil Practice

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The attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Galluzzo & Arnone have defended countless individuals arrested and accused of sexual assault crimes, from Class B felonies like Rape in the First Degree to Class B misdemeanors like Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree. Of course, our primary concern has always been to exonerate our clients or negotiate the best outcome under the circumstances. However, we are also careful to counsel our clients on the fact that, just because a criminal case has been resolved favorably, the battle may still not be over. Civil lawsuits for sexual assault and rape can arise and pose significant problems for those arrested for assault even after the criminal case has been put to rest. This is especially true where the accused are wealthy and/or famous, as the complaining witnesses (or “victims”) often see an opportunity for a payday. Indeed, many of the people who are sued for rape and sexual assault in New York are high net worth individuals (very successful professionals and investors) or celebrities (such as athletes or entertainers).

In New York civil law, rape, sexual assault and battery are intentional torts (or cause of action) which have one-year statute of limitations, meaning that any such lawsuits must be brought within one year from the date of the alleged violent act. (Note that there is no such thing as battery in New York criminal law – that word has only meaning in the New York civil law context). It should be noted that this statutory period is extended to 5 years, or one year from the termination of the criminal action, in civil cases arising out of various sexual criminal acts.

A guilty plea to a sexual assault case in criminal court can make it especially easy for a victim to pursue a lawsuit against the defendant. After all, a guilty plea is an admission under oath that the assault occurred which can be used against that criminal defendant in a civil lawsuit. After a guilty plea, it is effectively impossible for a criminal defendant to deny that he is liable for a sexual assault against the victim in a civil lawsuit without committing the crime of perjury. In these situations, the only issue to be determined in a civil lawsuit is the amount of money due to the victim, since liability is effectively admitted to.

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Blog – § 1983 Case Plan:

Given the ever increasing number of claims being filed for excessive force, false arrest, and/or malicious prosecution against the City and/or the New York City Police Department (‘NYPD’), the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York (‘SDNY’)(serving Manhattan, White Plains and Middletown, NY) came up with a case plan to ensure the timely hearing of such cases. This is known as the ‘§ 1983 Plan’. This Plan intends to facilitate the speedy disposition of such cases, however, it only applies to certain types of cases (those which are less complicated, and could be resolved quickly by following this Plan).

Service of the Complaint:

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Blog – University Sexual Assaults:

The White House Council announced in January of 2014 their intention to target sexual assault against women and girls, particularly college women, in a report entitled ‘A Renewed Call to Action’. This report referenced a number of recent studies into this seemingly increasing epidemic, including the statistic that one in five women will experience sexual assault or rape while in college. It is also important to note that most victims of sexual assault know their attacker, and that sexual assaults often happen at parties.

Risk Factors:

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New York state assemblyman Edward Braunstein has proposed legislation to combat the growing problem of “revenge porn,” or the non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit images. All too often, after a consensual sexual relationship ends, a bitter ex-husband or ex-boyfriend lashes out by posting sexually explicit images of his former lover on the internet. (Note: It is not illegal for websites to host these photos, as sites are not generally responsible for the content posted by non-employed users, though a number of attorneys have attempted to sue them on behalf of their clients. See Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, at 47 USC §230[c]). The proposed bill, the text of which is below, would make it a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail to disclose sexually explicit images when the victim had a reasonable expectation that they would not be shared outside of the relationship.

S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K

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"Defamation" is a word loosely used by people when they feel that another person has said something insulting and/or false about them. However, the word has a much more specific definition in the law, as it is defined as any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person. In New York State, 'defamation' is a civil charge, and encompasses both written statements ("libel") and spoken statements ("slander").
In our practice we usually see defamation lawsuits brought when false criminal charges are levied against someone and which, for example, jeopardize their employment or even lead to their incarceration. While it certainly does not take much for someone to utter or publish a false statement about another person, properly prosecuting a lawsuit in such a case is no easy task as New York has rather demanding specific pleading requirements in these types of cases. Failure to properly craft these lawsuits renders actions defective (and for this reason, our firm has been very successful in defendant against them). What follows is a brief discussion of the law of defamation in New York:

To sustain a defamation claim under New York law, a plaintiff is required to show that:

(1) A defendant made an oral or written factual and defamatory statement;
(2) Regarding the plaintiff;
(3) That was published to others by the defendants; and
(4) That there was resultant injury, unless the statement falls within a category of "per se" harm.