Monday, July 8, 2019

Schuyler Co. towns agree to work toward agreement with Humane Society

WENY News:
Schuyler County officials say they all have agreed to work toward an agreement to keep their animal control partnership in place with the Humane Society of Schuyler County.

This came after several towns – Montour, Dix, Hector, Catharine, Reading and Tyrone – had all voted to cancel their contract with the Humane Society and create a new agreement with a different animal control entity.

Read the full statement from the Humane Society and the towns here.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Steven Getman Wins Republican Nomination For Schuyler County Court Judge

(Watkins Glen, NY) Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman is the Republican nominee for County Court Judge following a contested vote tonight.
The Schuyler County Republican Committee met Thursday, June 27, and voted to nominate Getman over fellow Republicans Jess Saks and Dan Fitzsimmons and Democrat Matt Hayden. 
In endorsing Getman, Republican Committee Chair Van A. Harp stated, “During my time serving in the FBI, and on the County Legislature, I worked with countless attorneys from all over the place. Steve ranks among the best attorneys I’ve seen in action. As our current Schuyler County Attorney, he handles some of the most complex and important cases that come into our court system. He understands criminal court proceedings, family court proceedings, and surrogate court proceedings – all of which will be the responsibility of our next County Court Judge.”
“I am humbled and honored by the support of my fellow Schuyler County Republicans,” Getman said. “I plan to run a clean, positive, campaign, based on education, training and legal experience.”
In addition to Harp, Getman gained the written endorsements of past County Republican Chairs Phil Barnes and Lester Cady prior to the committee vote.
“It is my opinion that there is only candidate who is uniquely qualified to effectively serve in all of the roles required of a Schuyler County Court Judge: Steven Getman,” Barnes stated in a letter to the committee.
“Steve is smart, ethical and understands the U.S. Constitution,” Cady wrote. “He is the right person for this job.”
This is Getman’s second endorsement in this year’s judicial race. He obtained the backing of the New York State Libertarian Party earlier this month.
An attorney since 1992, Getman has practiced in each of the courts over which the County Court Judge presides: County Criminal, Civil, Family and Surrogate’s. He has also handled dozens of criminal and civil appeals in the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division. As Schuyler County Attorney, Getman is the chief legal advisor to approximately 250 county employees, including the County Administrator and County Legislature. He and his staff have handled thousands of cases, prosecuted and defended civil actions, appeared in numerous courts, and drafted legislation. In addition, his office prosecutes family court cases involving child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and child support violations.
Beyond his service as an attorney, Getman has taught criminal justice and constitutional law as an Adjunct Instructor at Keuka College for the past eight years. 
Getman, age 54, is a graduate of Hofstra University, Ithaca College and Cornell University. He is an endowment life member of the NRA and a member of Schuyler County SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education), Millport Hunting and Fishing Club, Community Conservation Club, Schuyler County Arc Nominating Committee, Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Lions Club, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, New York State Bar Association, Schuyler County Bar Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and New York State Defenders Association. He resides in Watkins Glen.
This year’s election will feature the seat for County Court Judge based on the May 30 retirement of Judge Dennis Morris. Due to the timing of Morris’s retirement, candidates are required by law to be nominated by the County Party Committees, rather than through a Primary Election. The Republican Committee consists of thirty local republicans from throughout the county, selected by voters.
The General Election is slated for Tuesday, November 5th.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

New York Court allows opioid claims to go forward against current, former directors of Purdue Pharma


Central Islip, NY--A New York State Supreme Court judge has denied a motion to dismiss cases brought by multiple New York municipalities, including Schuyler County, against current and former directors of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma.

In a ruling filed Friday (June 21), Justice Jerry Garguilo found thirty-one counties and two cities had alleged sufficient facts to move forward against various members of the Sackler family in order to recoup millions of dollars in costs tied to the opioid crisis.

Among the local counties and cities making claims are Schuyler County, Seneca County, Steuben County, Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, Schuyler County's claims include public nuisance, negligence, fraud and false advertising. 

Pursuant to the June 21 decision, the Sackler family had argued that they were not vicariously liable for the acts of Purdue’s board of directors and that the cities and counties had failed to allege that any of them participated in making the alleged misstatements in the complaint.

However, Garguilo found that, under New York law, directors may be held individually liable for a company’s tort action if they “directed, controlled, approved or ratified” the decision that lead to the injuries.

The complaint, the judge noted, alleged the Sacklers, as “controlling directors” of Purdue, oversaw the company’s marketing and targeting of doctors.  The Sacklers include former Purdue Chair and president Richard Sackler and seven other members of the family.

A public nuisance claim, the judge wrote, “may be an appropriate tool to address the consequential harm from the defendants’ concerted efforts to market and promote their products for sale and distribution, particularly as such efforts are alleged to have created or contributed to a crisis of epidemic proportions.”

Therefore, Garguilo allowed the cases to go forward, pending further discovery and other pretrial proceedings.

One such case was recently brought by Schuyler County. In August 2017, the County Legislature voted to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik to work with Getman, as special counsel, to bring an action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County. In May 2018, Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint for damages to the county. That case was transferred to Suffolk County Courts shortly thereafter, to join other cases brought by various New York state counties.  The counties later added the Sacklers as individual defendants.

“We applaud the court’s decision,” Getman said. “Schuyler County’s lawsuit will move forward to seek reimbursement for its expenses allegedly related to the opioid crisis as well as to provide the County with financial aid to fight addiction, overdoses, drug-related crimes and drug deaths.”

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the county, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for any role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.

Schuyler County is one of several New York municipalities to file lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least thirty-three municipalities across the state are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they claim are deceptive marketing practices.

In addition, in February 2018, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying drug’s addictive risks.

A copy of the court’s decision can be found here.

A copy of Schuyler County’s Summons and Complaint can be found here

Note: The allegations in a civil complaint are merely accusations and defendants are not considered culpable unless and until accusations are proven by a preponderance of evidence in a court of law.

Monday, June 24, 2019

New York legislature ends session: some of the major laws passed this year

Gannett News service lists the “20 major laws passed at the New York State Capitol this year.” The bills related to a number of areas, including:
1) Abortions
2) Rental laws
3) Marijuana decriminalization
4) Voting law changes, including early voting
5) Sexual harassment, rape law changes
6) Equal pay for equal work
7) Child Victims Act
8) The religious exemption for vaccinations
9) Driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants
10) More Gun control
11) Permanent property-tax cap
12) Immigrants brought into the country illegally as children are now eligible for college tuition aid from New York if they attended high school in the state
13) Eliminating Cash bail for most crimes
14) Gravity knives
15) Climate change
16) LGBTQ rights
17) LLC loophole
18) E-scooters
19) Cat-declawing ban
20) Standardized tests
Governor Cuomo said the new laws make New York the “social progress capital of the United States of America,” while Republic Senator Jim Tedisco predicts the new policies will only intensify the pace of New Yorker’s outmigration to other states.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New York passes the SHIELD Act: law aims to strengthen data security and consumer privacy protections

The New York State legislature has passed The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act, related to enhanced protections against data breaches and identity theft.

According to the New York State Attorney General’s office, the bill:

• Expands the scope of information subject to the current data breach notification law to include biometric information, email addresses, and corresponding passwords or security questions and answers; • Broadens the definition of a data breach to include unauthorized “access” to private information from the current “acquired” standard;
• Applies the notification requirement to any person or entity with private information of a New York resident, not just to those that conduct business in New York State;
• Updates the notification procedures companies and state entities must follow when there has been a breach of private information; and
• Creates reasonable data security requirements tailored to the size of a business.
The SHIELD act now goes to Governor Cuomo for his review.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court has ruled: you can't restrict political yard signs

The New York Civil Liberties Union has stated that a unanimous 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court "clearly called regulating yard signs based on content unconstitutional."

Based on such rulings, the New York Secretary of State has advised: “Some local governments have attempted to deal with the clutter of election campaign signs by limiting the period in which they may be posted. …such local regulations are likely to be struck down by the courts as an unlawful interference with the right of free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

As James Madison once said, “Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.”

Monday, June 3, 2019

New York enacts Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act

New York State has passed legislation to expand the situations in which judges can consider domestic violence survivors’ abuse when determining appropriate sentences for victims.

The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) will, according to one report, allow judges to impose an alternative sentence if he or she finds that:

1) the defendant, at the time of the offence, was a domestic violence victim subjected to substantial physical, sexual, or psychological abuse inflicted by a member of the same family or household;
2) the abuse was a significant contributing factor to the criminal behavior; and
3) a sentence under the general sentencing provisions would be ‘unduly harsh.’”

The provisions dealing with resentencing become effective August 12, 2019. For sentences imposed going forward, the law became effective immediately.

The complete text of the law can be found here.