Author Archives: ligitsec

elections in nyc

Non-Citizens Can’t Vote in City Elections Per NY Judge

When polled back in 2016, more than half of Republicans (60%) reported believing that illegal immigrants vote in elections. There’s been much debate over whether that allegation is true or not, but the issue has made its way to one New York courtroom after the city attempted to legalize noncitizen voting.

According to reports, a New York judge has blocked the city from allowing noncitizens to vote for the city’s mayor and other municipal offices. The issue made its way to the courts after New York city decided to grant municipal voting rights to noncitizens in January. Citizens opposed to the changes petitioned local courtrooms to denounce the new measures as unconstitutional.

Advocates for the new measure, on the other hand, pointed to the fact that many noncitizens who pay taxes in New York aren’t given a voice when they are prohibited from voting.

Judge Ralph Porzio was in charge of making a decision. According to the judge, provisions within the state constitution and state election laws give voting rights exclusively to citizens. By conferring that right to so many other individuals, the measure would be violating a true New York City resident’s rights.

This new ruling will reportedly bar over 800,000 new voting registration applications. Statistics revealed that about one in nine New York City residents are legally documented non-citizens that can’t vote.

What Rights Do I Have as a New York City Resident?

The right to vote might be taken for granted by many, but it’s still a very crucial one. Having the right to vote means having the ability to have your voice heard and playing a role in voting for our political leaders. United States citizens have a number of rights that noncitizens don’t have. Those rights include (but are not limited to):

  • The right to speak freely
  • The right to vote freely in public and open elections
  • The right to practice religion
  • The right to live in the US
  • The right to be free from unlawful search and seizures
  • The right to a fair and speedy trial
  • The right to bear arms
  • The right to be free from discrimination due to sex, race, or disability

Unfortunately, noncitizens do not automatically obtain these rights just by moving into New York City. Immigrants who want to enjoy all the rights and benefits of citizenship must go through the process legally and obtain their rightful legal citizenship. Without this citizenship, immigrants only have some basic rights, which do not include the right to vote in federal or local elections.

Do You Have More Legal Questions?

Are you currently a resident of New York? Do you have more questions about your legal rights, responsibilities, and options? If you have legal questions, then we have the answers.

Leave your contact details on our online form now or call our firm directly at (212) 729-7437 to discuss your legal concerns, questions, or situations in more detail with one of our top-tier attorneys.

NY Times Counter-Sues After Frivolous Defamation Lawsuit Dismissed

Back in 2020, Peter Brimelow was becoming increasingly concerned about the media’s portrayal of his image. According to Brimelow, at least five articles were published between Jan. of 2019 and May of 2020. In these articles, he was described as a “white nationalist,” who was “animated by race hatred.” These reportedly defamatory claims didn’t go unnoticed by Brimelow, and he decided to pursue a lawsuit against the New York Times for publishing the unfounded claims.

At the time of the lawsuit, New York had just expanded its Anti-SLAPP laws, so Brimelow’s lawsuit was ultimately dismissed on the basis that the New York Times is entitled to use their rights to free speech.

The New York Times, the defendant in the lawsuit, explained that the Anti-SLAPP laws and ultimate dismissal of the case were important steps in protecting companies from defamation claims. Now that a few years have passed, the company has decided to take further legal action.

Now, the New York Times will be flipping the script and will pursue a case against Peter Brimelow in a first of its kind. The company hopes to reclaim the costs of defending itself from the defamation claim brought against them.

What is the Anti-SLAPP Law?

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” and it was signed into law by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. Anti-SLAPP laws were signed into place to prevent and discourage citizens from filing lawsuits regarding the exercising of First Amendment free speech rights.

In 2022, such legislation is paramount because more and more citizens are seeking out frivolous lawsuits regarding protected speech. Anti-SLAPP laws allow defendants to file a motion to strike the lawsuit on the basis of free speech. Courts, unless they’re overbooked, will need to analyze the motion within 30 days. In many cases, this leads to the original lawsuit getting dismissed without further wasting time, money, and effort.

New York isn’t the only state with this type of legislation, either. By 2021, about 31 states had adopted this type of law, and many more are likely to follow suit in the coming years.

Do You Need a Solid Business Lawyer on Your Side?

In 2022, businesses are held to a near-impossible standard. Consumers expect businesses to be socially conscious, fair, equitable, and caring, too. While not all these expectations are embedded into the law, some of them are. If you’re currently a business owner or you’re hoping to become one, then hiring a business law attorney is a crucial part of protecting your company from frivolous lawsuits, like ones regarding your rights to free speech.

Knowing you need a business lawyer and securing a quality one for your company are two different things. Finding a skilled and competent lawyer will take some time and research. The good news is that if you’re located in New York, then you won’t have to go far. You’ve landed on the webpage of one of the state’s leading business litigation lawyers.

Contact Vangorodska Law Firm now to discuss your business’s legal needs in more detail with our attorneys.

New York Investment Banker Accuses His Ex-Wife’s Attorney of Malpractice

shak, a longtime investment banker and Triple Eight Markets, Inc., a Nevada-based corporate entity where Marshak has been acting as a director, have filed a malpractice lawsuit against the New York-based government relations law firm of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron in New York Supreme Court.

What the Lawsuit Alleges

The lawsuit, filed August 16th, alleges that the firm, representing Marshak’s ex-wife, requested that the court enforce a foreign judgment against Marshak from a U.K. divorce proceeding. As a result, a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order, allegedly keeping a Triple Eight account containing $125,000 frozen for six months of last year. According to the claim, the order was subsequently vacated and the case thrown out after the judge realized that the enforcement bid was flawed. 

The complaint, written by Mr. Marshak’s attorney, Andrew Bluestone, states that Triple Eight was not party to any of the court proceedings, either in New York or England, and consequently should never have been targeted in the order. 

Triple Eight had been paying Mr. Marshak to serve as vice-chairman of a new SPAC when the funds were targeted in the restraining order. Consequently, Marshak and Triple Eight claim that they were unable to invest those funds into the SPAC due to the order, causing a significant loss, according to the lawsuit. The SPAC, despite not benefiting from the $125,000 potential investment, still raised more than $100 million. 

Larry Hutcher, managing partner of Davidoff Hutcher, has responded to the lawsuit, saying that it is without merit, being brought by “a judgment debtor who owes his wife and children significant money” and who is just taking an offensive approach to further his claim.

Does This Justify Malpractice?

Was this malpractice? The court will decide whether these actions justify a malpractice award.

Legal malpractice is when a lawyer breaches his or her duty of care to a client, and the client suffers harm as a result. The negligent actions of an attorney can cause significant loss to their client, and they can be subject to a malpractice claim as a result. Professional negligence, the most common cause of action against a lawyer in a malpractice lawsuit, requires that four main elements be proven in a claim. These are

  • An attorney-client privilege existed between the parties
  • There was negligence by the attorney in his or her representation
  • There was proximate cause between the attorney’s actions and the damages
  • There were actual and ascertainable damages suffered by the plaintiff

But Mr. Marshak was not a client of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. Does he still have a malpractice claim?

Under the first element, called the privity rule, it must be established that there was a legal and ethical obligation to the client. But here, there was no attorney-client relationship. Consequently, was there negligence involved if Davidoff Hutcher owed no duty to Marshak?

No Stranger to Lawsuits Against Lawyers

In the meantime, Mr. Marshak, a 1985 graduate of Harvard Law School himself, is no stranger to lawsuits against New York law firms. Another complaint, filed last June, seeks $100 million in damages from the Dimas Law Group. The lawsuit alleges that the firm pressured him to give up shares in a valuable African mining venture, withholding payment for his business consulting services until he agreed to surrender his shares. 

Dimas Law Group responded that the complaint included baseless assertions, irrelevancies, and hurt feelings. 

Litigation in Business

While litigation is a fact of life in the corporate world, commercial litigation can be particularly complex, requiring a unique set of skills. Not every attorney in New York is an adept business litigator. When you need a skilled New York litigation attorney, you want the best. Contact the litigation team at Vangorodska Law.

Will Corporate Investment in Cryptocurrency Lead to Future Litigation and Lawsuits?

Cryptocurrency used to be the fodder of the obscure and the meme investors. After all,
Dogecoin started out as a joke. But now that it seems to be gaining some corporate
traction and legitimacy, it stands to reason that lawsuits may be the next logical step.

perspective and a regulatory perspective.

While corporate financial officers want to get the greatest mileage from their investments, cryptocurrency is not exactly for risk-averse, especially when managing funds that belong to corporate shareholders. And the legal and regulatory implications still remain to be seen.

The Risks of Cryptocurrency

As a new asset class, cryptocurrency may challenge corporate treasurers who have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders. Although lawsuits by shareholders based on crypto investment have yet to make it to the court system in significant numbers, that may change and hinge on the crypto itself and how the stockholders react to large swings. While, in theory, crypto is supposed to be fixed and resistant to outside intervention, we know that they are extremely volatile. And we are watching as the government is attempting to regulate digital assets more closely. This may have significant implications for corporate managers who may find themselves defending themselves against claims
of mismanagement.

How Corporate Investment is Changing

Until recently, corporate managers and CFOs invested in the least risky assets, despite their low yield. But with all the talk of inflation, managers have looked to the more established cryptos like Bitcoin for higher yields as a hedge against inflation. Theoretically, because of the lack of central bank regulation and a fixed supply, it made sense. Now with talks of inflation, it has made these currencies much more attractive to some corporations.

Cryptos Gaining More Corporate Interest

Although the companies with the largest cryptocurrency investments remain Tesla, Square, and MicroStrategy, over two dozen public companies now show crypto on their balance sheets. Bank of New York Mellon, the oldest bank in the nation, announced back in February that they would soon be allowing customers access and protection for cryptocurrency the same as any other asset. Even PayPal is now allowing some users to pay with crypto through their platform. While corporations have started to embrace the more established cryptos, there are still some issues. Bitcoin was supposed to bypass corporate and government intervention. But user mentality now has a more flexible outlook, and that has made it more palatable to corporations. With the possibility of some future regulatory structure, some corporations are even beginning to lobby lawmakers. The Crypto Council for Innovation was launched in April. While some see an inevitable convergence between cryptocurrency and the traditional financial system, there are still many unknowns and the unpredictability of many of the cryptos available in the marketplace. Will the wild fluctuations that we have seen lately be something that shareholders are willing to ride? And, if not, who will be held

Litigation and Business

In the business world, litigation is just part of the territory. If you have a business matter you would like to discuss, let us help. Contact our skilled New York business litigation attorneys at Vangorodska Law Firm to schedule an appointment.

What Happens When a Business Partner Decides to Leave the Partnership?

Business partnerships can be like marriages. Although individuals enter partnerships with the best of intentions, they can break down for various reasons, and if the partnership is not dissolved properly, it can have legal consequences for all the parties involved. The partner who leaves may still be on the hook until all debts are settled,assets have been distributed, and the business’s construct is legally dissolved or reformatted.

When Partnerships Aren’t Dissolved Properly

When a business partnership isn’t properly dissolved, it can turn into costly litigation, or at the very least, time spent in small claims court.

Such is the recent case of Performance Food Group v. Ariva Hospitality, 2020, IL app (3d) 190409 (May 27, 2020). In this case, Performance Food Group sold products to a hotel under an account subject to a personal guarantee by the hotel’s general manager.The issue? The general manager was no longer employed by the hotel.

When the hotel failed to pay its bill, the Plaintiff filed a small claims complaint against both the hotel and the former general manager. Even though the general manager didn’t approve the purchase order since he was no longer employed there, his guarantee was unlimited in its duration. Fortunately for him, the court found that,although it was reasonable to hold him accountable for a period of time, it was unreasonable to hold him liable for the payment for food products two years after he left employment.

The moral of the story: unless you are careful to terminate any guarantees or other matters of responsibility when leaving a partnership or the employ of a company, you may potentially be held liable for financial and other legal issues.

Dissolving a Partnership the Correct Way

There are multiple reasons why an individual chooses to leave a business partnership.It may just be a career path change or retirement. These can usually happen in a friendly and non-confrontational way and, whenever possible, there should be honest and forthright communication between the partners.

But when a partner leaves in a contested fashion due to a serious breakdown in management style or a major difference in opinion, functional communication may have long since ceased. When this happens, it should be navigated by an experienced business litigation attorney, especially if there is no existing Separation Agreement.

When a business partner decides to leave a partnership, many things need to take place to ensure that the partner who is leaving is no longer liable or can no longer benefit from the partnership. This is best left to a legal professional.

Structuring a Partnership Agreement for These Possibilities

When forming a business partnership, a well-crafted partnership agreement should consider all possibilities, including the end of that partnership. Structuring it properly, in the beginning, can have a lot to do with the ease of dissolving it should it come to that.

Consequently, a well-structured partnership agreement should include a strong Separation Agreement and make accommodations for financial responsibility, how assets and liabilities will be assumed, and address any possible transfers of licenses and name registrations.

When you are considering entering into a business partnership or are seeking to dissolve one, you should get the guidance of a skilled business litigation attorney to understand your options and responsibilities. Before you put yourself at risk, contact our experienced business litigation team for professional legal advice.


Has There Been a Surge in Covid-19 Related Litigation?

Initially, many thought there would be a surge in litigation due to Covid-19. It turns out that there has been an increase, but it’s been modest. This increase comes from several types of litigation.

Cruise Ships

The first wave of Covid-19 litigation came about as people got sick on cruise lines. But as NPR reports, these lawsuits were difficult for plaintiffs to win. Reasons include the fact that the cruise ship companies aren’t American companies. They’re not subject to health and safety regulations from OSHA and other laws. Additionally, the ticketing agreement each passenger signs limits how and when lawsuits can be filed.

Employment Law

During the first year of the pandemic, there were about 2,000 lawsuits filed related to Covid-19 in the workplace. These claims included:

  • Disability and reasonable accommodation
  • Retaliation for whistleblowing
  • Discrimination or harassment
  • Workplace health and safety
  • Wages and hours.

A recent case involving Walmart provides an example. In Evans v. Walmart, an Illinois case, the wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the estate of Wando Evans, a Walmart employee who passed away due to complications from Covid-19. The complaint alleges that several employees, including the deceased, exhibited signs of the coronavirus and that management knew this. The complaint alleged that Walmart failed to exercise reasonable care in keeping the store safe to protect employees and customers. It alleges examples of negligent conduct, including inadequate cleaning and sterilization processes, failure to implement social distancing, and failing to provide employees with protective equipment such as facemasks and gloves.

Evans is similar to hundreds of other similar cases filed around the country.

Business Insurance

Claims against insurance companies initially skyrocketed by business owners forced to close due to the pandemic. Many businesses filed claims with their insurance companies for lost business income. However, most have been denied. That’s because, after the SARS virus of 2003, many insurance companies inserted language into their policies exempting coverage for virus outbreaks. Nevertheless, some businesses have prevailed.

North State Deli LLC et al. v. The Cincinnati Insurance a typical example. In this case, plaintiffs operated sixteen restaurants in North Carolina. They had purchased “all risk” insurance policies from the defendant. Due to Covid-19, the restaurants had to close, and the plaintiffs lost money. They filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that the defendant must replace their lost business income under the insurance policy. After reviewing the policy, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.

The Next Wave

As Covid-19 vaccinations become more available to the general public, the issue raised is whether an employer can require employees to get the vaccination as a condition of returning to work. This hasn’t been resolved. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released guidance and advises that requiring a vaccine does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. But that doesn’t end the debate. Employees still may have valid reasons to deny the vaccine based on medical issues or religious of freedom grounds. It’s anticipated that there will be many lawsuits filed by employees required by employers to get vaccinated.

The Takeaway

Covid-19 has caused a modest increase in lawsuits, but not the tsunami that some people feared.

New York City Is Drowning In Lawsuits

New York City is drowning in frivolous lawsuits. Litigious individuals have filed lawsuits over everything from food packaging and advertising to the design of retail websites. The city’s court system is now one of the country’s worst places for civil justice.

A report by The American Tort Reform Foundation places New York City in the #3 spot on the foundation’s yearly review of “Judicial Hellholes.”  Plaintiffs and attorneys are running berserk with the assistance of chummy judges and do-nothing legislators.

The report turns up the heat on the court system. The system has come under attack before from ATRF for the “brashly plaintiff-favoring ways” of a special court for asbestos-linked personal injury cases in Manhattan.

ATRF president Tiger Joyce says many cases included in the report involve a number of areas of litigation where, if you boil it down, “there isn’t any particular kind of injury.”

“The theory is that somehow persons have been harmed even though harm hasn’t been demonstrated,” Joyce said. “The new trend is something we are concerned about.”

Junior Mints

The only places worse than New York City for irresponsible tort filings are California and Florida.

The ATRF report also points to the cost and compensation paid in America’s tort system came to over $425 billion in 2016. That figure accounts for 2.3% of the US GDP.

Twenty-two percent of all trivial food lawsuits’ nationwide, were registered in New York City. Most of the claims complained food packages were filled to capacity or failed to live up to advertising which termed the food as “natural.”

In once case, a federal judge in Manhattan threw out a class-action suit which alleged patrons were tricked into buying Junior Mints since the candy was “packaged in a box with more than one quarter of the box containing air.”

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald felt permitting the suit to move forward would “enshrine” into the law an awkward level of mathematical illiteracy.

The ATRF report also highlights Arik Matatov who tried to get easy money from 50 Manhattan businesses because the companies didn’t have wheelchair ramps. Matatov doesn’t use a wheelchair and doesn’t need one as he can walk on his own two feet.

Screen Reading Software

A ruling made in 2017 by two federal judges mandated that all online retailers make their sites compatible with screen-reading software for the visually impaired. That ruling opened the floodgates for lawsuits against hundreds of stores.

Complying with the rulings cost businesses as much as $37,000 to remodel their sites.

The report also takes state lawmakers to the woodshed for failing to reform New York’s ‘scaffold law’. The law places liability on property owners and contractors when a worker is injured in a fall. Even if the worker’s own carelessness caused the accident.

Another Tax

Arkady Bukh, a noted New York attorney, said, “Frivolous litigation increase the cost of doing business.”

The added cost to do business in NYC is like another tax.

“The litigious nature of New York City amounts to another tax on employers. Especially hurt are the owners of small businesses and independent employers who can’t afford it,” Bukh added.

“Excesses in the legal system get passed to the consumer — it doesn’t get taken out of some special litigation fund,” said Joyce.

The Institute for Legal Reform found, in 2017, that costs associated with litigation drive up prices by as much as $6,500 annually — the highest in the nation.

The Takeaway

These attorneys are highlighted in the new “Judicial Hellholes” report from the American Tort Reform Foundation:

Jeffrey Gottlieb & Associates, Manhattan: Recorded at least 26 suits in under 60-days over sites which lacked screen-reading software for the visually impaired

Lee Litigation Group, Manhattan: Filed suits “by the dozen” over partly void food packaging, including boxes of Junior Mints

Joseph Mizrahi, Brooklyn: Filed more than 500 website suits in Manhattan and Brooklyn federal courts in 2018 alone

Weitz & Luxenburg, Manhattan: Crooked ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s former firm has handled 52 percent of all asbestos cases in New York City this year, up from 47 percent last year

McSweeney/Langevin, Minneapolis: Was sued after being charged with  enlisting women to have their pelvic-mesh implants withdrawn and then filing suit against the apparatus makers

Opioids Poised To Trigger Largest Litigation In American History

2018 has seen a spike in opioid-linked lawsuits in American history. The filings have been against pharmaceutical companies and their leaders as well as retail pharmacies. What makes 2018 unique, besides the number of lawsuits, are few of the lawsuits were brought by opioid victims or their families. The suits, filed by cities, counties, state attorneys and even American Indian tribal councils, may take years to find resolution.

While the federal Justice Department has joined a variety of states in their suits, Attorney General Sessions is preparing to file a separate federal suit targeting drug companies. While the federal authorities are getting involved, the state-level suits are the most interesting. They stand to reach the plateau of being the largest civil litigation settlement in American history. The approaches and ideas behind the suits are not new though. They are coming directly out of Big Tobacco’s playbook.


Tobacco was another public health emergency the country faced in the 1990s. Six jurisdictions and forty-six states took part in the biggest civil litigation settlement in the nation’s history when they settled with the tobacco industry. That agreement set out the annual payments to be made by each manufacturer and set new standards and restrictions for tobacco companies. The agreement also outlined the limitation on states. They could not file future claims against tobacco companies included in the original lawsuits.

What is making the situation significant now? There are better health records paper trails and, in theory, a priority in the pecking order for states receiving money. Experts estimate that tens of millions of dollars were spent by drug makers to downplay any concern about addiction, market exaggerations and physician lobbying to prescribe more. With the proximity to big tobacco’s strategy, the arguments of false advertising have a good chance of being heard when they go to court.

Others argue the distributors such as CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens, are to blame and they actively misled and harmed consumers. Pointing to examples of entire states, such as West Virginia, the anti-suit crowd is quick to point out that only certain states are required to monitor the supply chain.

Native Americans

The Cherokee Nation filed a suit in Tribal Court against the distributors. Mentioned in the filing was the big-box suppliers’ role in the widespread harm prescription drugs were causing on their tribe. When a federal judge in Oklahoma rejected their lawsuit, the Cherokee Nation is now suing Purdue Pharma for its role. The numbers shown in the cases are alarming and the ultimate goal is to combine the Cherokee Nation’s suit with others in hopes of achieving a collective outcome.

The Takeaway

If the Big Tobacco model is followed, it could be months or years before a settlement is reached in the opioid courtroom wars.

New York State Takes The Lead To Settle International Contract Disputes

International Law can be a problematic area for resolving contract disputes. The problems are magnified when the involved parties are international players. New York State has taken steps to smooth the often rough road and international persons and groups are finding the new procedures comparatively easy to follow.

What To Do In A Sophisticated, International Dispute?

New York has successfully positioned itself as an attractive forum for resolving international commercial disputes. The flexible rules permit contracting parties to agree to the specific procedures best suited for their needs. It’s a choice which west best for parties who put in due diligence as far as negotiating only just the choice of forum, but also the procedural mechanisms involved.

New York is a sophisticated and  international city. It is a center for international banking, finance and commerce. In 1993, the state courts established a Commercial Division to grow expertise in managing domestic and international commercial cases. Since the founding, the division has upgraded its rules and procedures. In the meantime it has become a forum of choice for complex matters. Individuals and companies into commercial agreements should consider is the state is a viable option for resolving disputes. Foreign groups in commercial transactions with U.S. parties often may obtain important concessions on other issues as well.

Some international groups may find themselves litigation in the state without any advance choice. For instance, when international contracts have no forum selection clause, New York can be the only — or best — place to obtain personal jurisdiction. At the same time, given the relatively broad views of personal jurisdiction found in New York, foreign individuals may find they are taken to court in New York despite their desires.

Under NY-BCL 1314, New York courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction to settle disputes between two non-New York businesses, unless the cause of one action is connected to New York. But New York allows contracting parties to agree to a New York forum even if neither have any New York connections. The only requirement is to comply with NY-GOL 5-1401 and 5-1402.

Parties, under 5-1401, with commercial contracts valued over $250,000 may agree by contract to permitting New York rules apply.

The Takeaway

The state has put itself into an attractive forum to resolve international commercial disputes. The rules are flexible which allow the parties to agree to specific procedures fitting to their needs.

More People Are Turning To Litigation To Resolve False-Positive Drug Tests

Eat a bagel, lose your job. Eat a bagel and see your child taken from you. These, and more incidents of overreaction have triggered a growing number of lawsuits. Here’s what happened and what you can do if you are falsely confronted with a false-positive drug screen.

George Tidd was a 23-year-old sailor assigned to the USS Kennedy in 1982. The aircraft carrier was homeported in Norfolk, Virginia and dozens of fast foot joints lined Hampton Boulevard just outside the Main Gate.

Tidd, an Intelligence Specialist with a fairly high security clearance, went to lunch at “Navy Bagels,” picked up a couple of bagels with poppy seeds and a Coke. He enjoyed his brief lunch break while walking back to the ship.

In a few hours, Tidd would be subjected to a random drug test and he would turn up positive for opium.

Tidd lost his clearance, was demoted to the deck force and killed himself three days later.

The Naval Investigators refused to believe Tidd’s claim that he didn’t do drugs.

There was enough opium in the poppy seed bagel to trigger a positive on the urine screen.

Mother and Newborn Separated For Five Days

Elizabeth Eden ate a poppy seed bagel the morning she gave birth to her daughter. Eden was in labor and her doctor told her she had tested positive for opiates.

Eden demanded she be rested and her newborn daughter was forced to stay in the hospital, without her mother, for five days.

Eden’s caseworker closed the case when she realized it was a legitimate case of  a false positive.

Eleazar Paz

Eleazar Paz, a New York City jail guard, was suspended after failing a random urine test. The drug screen showed indicated 522 nanograms per milliliter of morphine and 358 nanograms per milliliter of codeine. According to court records, Paz had eggs, a poppy seed bagel and coffee for breakfast that morning.

Paz was suspended and went to trial in April 2018. An expert toxicologist testified on Paz’s behalf and said a person who abused morphine and codeine would have “urine values in the thousands.”

The expert, William Sawyer, was surprised the New York City Department of Corrections was still using the outdated cutoff of 300 nanogram per milliliter.

Judge John B. Spooner acknowledged the most “likely source of the positive test results was the ingestion of poppy seeds” and suggested  the disciplinary proceedings against Paz be dismissed. The DOC ignored the recommendation and fired Paz regardless.

DOC officials refused to comment on Paz’s firing and told the New York Post, “There is no evidence a few poppy seeds can make a person fail a drug test.”

What’s The Law

Laws on drug testing vary by state. Drug testing has been challenged and often ruled unconstitutional. The variances in drug testing laws can be significant and each state’s law can be found here.

New York prohibits employers from rejecting a job applicant because they tested positive.

“Since use of prescription drugs for treatment, testing positive for legally used medications cannot be used against an applicant,” said Yulia Vangorodska.

How to File a Lawsuit in New York

If you feel you’ve been the victim of a false-positive drug screen and have been affected, you can file a lawsuit.

First, determine a monetary value of your case. If you believe it is under $25,000, your case can be filed in Civil Court. Cases valued over $25,000 will be heard by one of the five Supreme Courts in New York City. Depending on specifics, you may be able to file in federal court.

Hiring a lawyer is not optional. It is mandatory. Even a seemingly insignificant item can change the entire course of your case. If your suit is against a business, you must be represented by a lawyer.

The final step before appearing before a judge is to file your case, paying the filing fee and serving the defendant.

The Takeaway

Filing a lawsuit in America can be a long and tortuous process. It’s not easy even with the simplest of cases and an attorney is a must-have.

Until laws are brought in line with laboratory advances in drug testing, there will continue to be lawsuits as people fight for their rights