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All Defendants Except Finlay Are Dismissed from Alexandra Waterbury's Lawsuit


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Well, justice was certainly delayed, but it was not ultimately denied.  The Court has dismissed with prejudice NYCB, SAB, Ramasar, Catazaro and Longhitano  from Alexandra Waterbury's lawsuit.  Finlay is the only remaining defendant, and there is only one remaining claim against him.  Most of the claims against Finlay have been dismissed. 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/28/arts/dance/new-york-city-ballet-lawsuit.html

Edited by abatt
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I'm not totally surprised - many of the charges required evidence that just didn't seem to exist. Imo, Waterbury did not receive good legal council - it's the lawyer's job to explain what is actually doable under the law. Wouldn't filing a Civil Negligence case against the 4 men have made more sense? But going after NYCB and SAB was always going to be a reach - way too much to prove.

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On 9/29/2020 at 1:22 AM, pherank said:

I'm not totally surprised - many of the charges required evidence that just didn't seem to exist. Imo, Waterbury did not receive good legal council - it's the lawyer's job to explain what is actually doable under the law. Wouldn't filing a Civil Negligence case against the 4 men have made more sense? But going after NYCB and SAB was always going to be a reach - way too much to prove.

Yes but think about it, the men don’t have money, the institutions do.

 Her lawyer deals with cases in the millions of dollars, he wasn’t representing her to get justice against some dancers in my opinion.

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I think her lawyer must have known there was no chance of success against SAB or NYCB, but decided that getting the opportunity to be on television and in the press was worth it.   I remember seeing the attorney on television with Waterbury at least once.

Do you remember how so many television stations and print news outlets regularly broadcast the news of Waterbury's lawsuit, the news of her relentless protests outside of the musical West Side Story, and interviews with Waterbury?  I've heard nothing about this decision tossing her case out on any television news program.  It's time for NYCB and SAB to regain their reputations.  They should be sending out press releases about this decision.  This decision deserves the same level of media attention as Waterbury's discredited, frivolous  lawsuit. Granted, with the election coming up and Covid, there is a lot of important news to cover. 

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It seems like her chances of winning her case against Finlay are slim to none since the statute requires ‘proof of intent to cause financial or emotional harm’. 
 Whilst sharing the photos may have been wrong, it’s a stretch to imagine that was his intent.

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Here's a definition of the difference between criminal and civil negligence cases:

"Civil negligence, according to many law systems, is the breach of a duty to care. Someone who is found guilty of civil negligence is found to have not acted in the way a reasonable person would in the same situation. The negligent act must result in injury or loss, and often falls under tort laws. Criminal negligence is different because the defendant is accused of intentionally acting in reckless fashion without regard to the safety of others, and as such, the offense falls under criminal codes."

Assuming the above description is correct, I believe Waterbury's legal team would have needed to prove that Finely had intended all along to do harm to Waterbury through his specific actions.

It's this "duty of care" legal issue that seems to be at the crux of things:

"Societies that allow legal remedy for duty of care generally do so with the intention of discouraging recklessness and intentional harm or suffering. In these societies, people are expected to act reasonably when dealing with other people. Generally, when a person claims that another party has violated this standard, a court makes a determination based upon the way that most reasonable individuals would have acted in the same circumstances."

In criminal negligence cases, the judge and jury seem to look for obvious contracts that spell out how parties are expected to behave in relation to one another. Civil cases don't require such a strict standard. The way I read the judge's decision in this criminal case, Finley was never required to behave in any particular manner (regardless of our assumptions about love relationships and friendship) towards Waterbury because there was no legally binding agreement between them.

Perhaps one of our forum members who has worked in the legal profession can provide more insight.

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Waterbury still "won".   She got her revenge agsinst NYCB,  SAB,  and Finlay,  and she punished Ramasar for apparently pretending to be her friend.  She drove Catazaro out of his career with NYCB and destroyed Longhitano's business prospects and finances.  Her own career got a big boost,  and she got recognized by some as a young feminist icon,  taking on the ballet patriarchy.  Whatever,  the lawyers are going to get paid,  one say or another.

Edited by On Pointe
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Posted (edited)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/arts/dance/nyc-ballet-alexandra-waterbury.html?searchResultPosition=5

I  have attached the original article from the NY Times when this debacle began.  It mentions that Waterbury's counsel initially went to NYCB to demand a settlement from NYCB before filing the lawsuit in order to help NYCB avoid bad publicity.  NYCB rejected the demand, and the lawsuit was then filed.

This was a classic shakedown attempt.  Money was always the motive. If Waterbury were really interested in exposing a culture of bad behavior at the company, she would not have first gone to the company to offer to keep NYCB out of the lawsuit in exchange for a payday.   Any moderately good lawyer could see that the claims against NYCB and SAB had a snowball's chance in hell of surviving, so the company didn't take the bait.  Without NYCB in the lawsuit, there was little likelihood that  the media would have paid much attention to this lawsuit. It was the fact that she  sued a venerable cultural institution (with baseless allegations that have now been tossed out of court)  that garnered the media attention.  This was a brazen blackmail attempt, pure and simple.

Edited by abatt
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3 hours ago, abatt said:

NYCB rejected the demand, and the lawsuit was then filed

This is true.

3 hours ago, abatt said:

Money was always the motive.

That is one interpretation.  And money isn't even always the motive of lawyers who work on contingency.

While Waterbury has received publicity and attention as a result of the lawsuit, going to NYCB first would have kept the matter private, at least outside of her social circle, which was her first choice, since any settlement would have included an NDA and no protests outside West Side Story.

Money as motive is not, by definition, a bad thing: that is why there is an entire legal and court infrastructure where people, can sue for damages and why people and groups ask for reparations.  

Here's a link to the decision:

https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2020/2020-ny-slip-op-33132-u.html

The cases were dropped against all but Finley, retaining one article, based on law/egal precedent, not of which was characterized by the court as "shakedown" or the equivalent legal language, for which there is precedent.

 

3 hours ago, abatt said:

Without NYCB in the lawsuit, there was little likelihood that  the media would have paid much attention to this lawsuit. It was the fact that she  sued a venerable cultural institution (with baseless allegations that have now been tossed out of court)  that garnered the media attention. 

I disagree, because Finlay was a Principal Dancer at NYC, and the suit quoted texts from the start, implicating other NYCB dancers and young donor bigwig Longhitano, and naming them in later amendments.  I think that in itself would have garnered the same amount of publicity, some salacious, some not, in the now-forgotten #MeToo moment, sans the "we disagree" statements from NYCB, which were hardly what drove interest.  NYCB wasn't performing in West Side Story.

While I personally think it's ridiculous to recognize (alleged) damage only if the person harmed is damaged permanently or nearly permanently, Mr. Longhitano has re-emerged as a crusader for property rights:

https://gothamist.com/news/angry-upper-west-siders-wanted-homeless-scum-out-their-neighborhood-de-blasio-took-their-side

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25 minutes ago, Helene said:

That is one interpretation.  And money isn't even always the motive of lawyers who work on contingency.

Money may not be the motivation of all contingency lawyers, but you only have to look at the homepage of her lawyers website to recognize his motivations.
https://mersonlaw.com

The judge rightly ruled that Waterbury was neither an employee of NYCB, nor was she a student of SAB during the time any of this occurred, which is still incorrectly reported by the media and widely misunderstood by the public. 

 

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47 minutes ago, canbelto said:

There are no false accusations of sexual assault. The stigma against the victims is such that false accusations simply do not happen. 

 

That is not true.  Statistically speaking, false accusations are a very, very small number. "Protection" against them is  higher than, for example, against false accusations that lead to state or federal execution on murder charges, even when the falsely accused is given incentive to make false accusations, but they still exist, however infinitesimal. 

 

21 minutes ago, Fairandlove said:

but you only have to look at the homepage of her lawyers website to recognize his motivations.
https://mersonlaw.com

As opposed to other law firms?  As opposed to the firm and lawyer who represented NYCB  to determine potential liability when accusations were made against Peter Martins?

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Just now, Helene said:

As opposed to other law firms?  As opposed to the firm and lawyer who represented NYCB  to determine potential liability when accusations were made against Peter Martins?

I’m not familiar, would you provide a link for a fair comparison?
 

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https://www.kelleydrye.com/Our-People/Barbara-E-Hoey

Prettier language, but her goal and her firm's goal are to win cases, in her case, representing employers against employees.

Lawyers and law firms' goals are to make or save money for their clients, while making money for themselves.  The former can be true of lawyers in government and public-service, advocacy, or other not-for-profit organizations, rather than in the business of law.

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3 minutes ago, Helene said:

https://www.kelleydrye.com/Our-People/Barbara-E-Hoey

Prettier language, but her goal and her firm's goal are to win cases, in her case, representing employers against employees.

Lawyers and law firms' goals are to make or save money for their clients, while making money for themselves.  The former can be true of lawyers in government and public-service, advocacy, or other not-for-profit organizations, rather than in the business of law.

I see a stark difference there to:

  • “$200 Million Negligence Lawsuit Against City Of New York
  • $500 Million Settlement with Michigan State University Currently Being Litigated
  • $200 Million Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against United States
  • One Of The Largest Construction Accident Settlements For 2018 In New York
  • $100 Million Reserved For Sexual Assault Victims By NY Archdiocese
  • $28 Million As Part of The“
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Part of what Ms. Hoey and her firm does is saving money for her clients.  You don't know what you've actually saved unless there is a judgement against your client, ie, you lost, because what is asked for may have no relationship to the final judgement amount.  

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5 minutes ago, Helene said:

Part of what Ms. Hoey and her firm does is saving money for her clients.  You don't know what you've actually saved unless there is a judgement against your client, ie, you lost, because what is asked for may have no relationship to the final judgement amount.  

Ok but it was you who said not all lawyers working on contingency are motivated by money. Furthermore if Merson was motivated otherwise he could have asked NYCB for an apology or a commitment to change of practices rather than.... money.

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24 minutes ago, Fairandlove said:

Ok but it was you who said not all lawyers working on contingency are motivated by money. Furthermore if Merson was motivated otherwise he could have asked NYCB for an apology or a commitment to change of practices rather than.... money.

Yes, not all lawyers working on contingency are (solely) motivated by money in every case.  However, all lawyers working in private practice are motivated by money in the aggregate: that's what pays for pro bono and subsidized cause work.  Some take on individual cases for other reasons, including the cause, including the opportunity to leverage it into a better opportunity, including experience/the ability to partner with another lawyer/firm and learn from the best, including doing a favor for a friend or relative, etc.  All of those can be the sole motivation for taking on a case, or there can a combination of motivations, including money, earning it for oneself/one's firm and either earning it for one's clients or saving one's clients money.  That is the same for Ms. Hoey and her firm as well as Mr. Merson.  It's what keeps them in business.  So I have no issue when they actually talk about it, especially when it can be stated in factual monetized terms.

Since we're not privy to what was in Mr. Merson's mind when he took on the case, there's nothing to stop us from coming to conclusions based on his actions and/or website.  That doesn't mean we're right.

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Re: removed posts:  do not discuss non-official information, ie, no insider information, period.  

With respect, everyone who registers agrees to follow board policy, so follow board policy.

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

 

That is not true.  Statistically speaking, false accusations are a very, very small number. "Protection" against them is  higher than, for example, against false accusations that lead to state or federal execution on murder charges, even when the falsely accused is given incentive to make false accusations, but they still exist, however infinitesimal. 

They are so low that the right and moral thing to do as a society is to believe all women. We set a horrible example by victim blaming or questioning the victim's motives. The right thing to do is to believe and support women who are victims of sexual assault.

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

 

While I personally think it's ridiculous to recognize (alleged) damage only if the person harmed is damaged permanently or nearly permanently, Mr. Longhitano has re-emerged as a crusader for property rights:

https://gothamist.com/news/angry-upper-west-siders-wanted-homeless-scum-out-their-neighborhood-de-blasio-took-their-side

Between the lawsuit documents and this article, Longhitano comes across as a really lovely person. 

From the article (on protests about homeless people being housed at an UWS hotel to mitigate coronavirus spread):

There are references to second amendment rights, and one commenter Jared Longhitano, who declined to comment further on what he had written when reached over the phone, proposed “having round the clock militias shooting these assholes.” He also suggested that residents “kick them in front of a bus if possible.”

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10 minutes ago, canbelto said:

They are so low that the right and moral thing to do as a society is to believe all women. We set a horrible example by victim blaming or questioning the victim's motives. The right thing to do is to believe and support women who are victims of sexual assault.

It helps no cause to make false claims that are easily refuted when the truth is as powerful, if not quite as simple.

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3 hours ago, canbelto said:

There are no false accusations of sexual assault. The stigma against the victims is such that false accusations simply do not happen. 

That is manifestly untrue.  False accusations are made regarding every crime,  and sexual assault is no different.  At any rate,  there is no sexual assault in the Waterbury case.

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