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July 2015

Gordon & Rees New York and New Jersey Team Wins Dismissal of Highly Publicized Civil Rights Lawsuit

New York office managing partner and prominent trial lawyer Mercedes Colwin and associate Vincent Avery recently obtained a dismissal of a highly-publicized civil rights lawsuit against a New Jersey municipality in federal court.

The plaintiff alleged that, following a routine traffic stop and drug-related arrest, she was forced to engage in numerous non-consensual sexual acts with one of the arresting police officers over the course of a five month period. Notably, prior to the commencement of the lawsuit, the police officer in question was investigated by the County Prosecutor’s Office for engaging in the conduct that plaintiff alleged -- both with her and three other women -- and ultimately pled guilty to doing so with one of the other three women in exchange for a dismissal of the remainder of the criminal charges. The plaintiff then filed a civil action in federal court, asserting thirteen common-law tort and civil rights claims against the officer, one of his colleagues (whom plaintiff alleged participated in some of the unlawful conduct in question), and the municipality that employed both of them.

On behalf of the employer and co-worker, Gordon & Rees moved to dismiss plaintiff’s claims on the grounds that she had failed to comply with the New Jersey Torts Claims Act, as she had neither served a torts claims notice upon the municipality within the statutorily-prescribed time period, nor sought leave to serve a late torts claims notice within the extended one year period set forth in the statute for circumstances in which the plaintiff could establish good cause for failing to meet the standard timeframe. Ultimately, the court agreed with Gordon & Rees’ arguments in full and dismissed all thirteen claims asserted against the municipality and the individual officer represented by the firm.

This victory is one of the latest for Ms. Colwin, a leading U.S. trial lawyer with 48 cases successfully tried to verdict. She is a legal analyst on the Fox News Network, where she regularly appears on legal issues involving high-profile matters. Ms. Colwin represents corporate executives and Fortune 500 clients who rely on her and her team of attorneys and experts to handle high-stakes legal matters. She is a frequent moderator, panelist and presenter on employment topics throughout the country.

Ms. Colwin has received numerous national recognitions, including Notre Dame Law School’s prestigious Graciela Olivarez Award, and she was named by Forbes Business American Airlines as one of the six most influential women in America, an honor she shares with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Ms. Colwin also was honored as one of the “Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys.”

Mercedes Colwin