Mitchell Pollack & Associates Past Case Highlights

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Second Circuit Affirms Eastern District Court's Dismissal of Pro Se Complaint Against Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union

On February 15, 2013, the Second Circuit affirmed the Eastern District Court's dismissal of a pro se Complaint filed against the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union. A pro se loan applicant brought this action against the credit union and its board of directors alleging, inter alia, discrimination in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA"), patent infringement, use of illegal lending standards and enslavement or conspiracy to enslave. The Eastern District granted Mitchell Pollack & Associates' Motion to Dismiss holding that the Plaintiff did not state a claim under the ECOA and failed to properly plead a patent infringement claim or a claim for enslavement/conspiracy to enslave. The Second Circuit affirmed this Decision.

Read the Second Circuit's full Decision - Kwiatkowski v. Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, 511 F. App'x 117 (2d Cir. 2013)

Mitchell Pollack & Associates, PLLC wins Second Department Appeal on Issue of First Impression in New York and the United States...

On January 24, 2012, the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, reversed a Supreme Court, Kings County, decision in Luczaj v. Bortnik and the Board of Directors of the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, holding that federal credit unions are not subject to jurisdiction in proceedings brought pursuant to CPLR Article 78. As a result, the relief of mandamus may not be imposed against such voluntary, unincorporated financial institutions and, ultimately, it insulates federal credit unions from the time and expense of defending managerial decisions in such expedited special proceedings.

This was the first time any court in New York or the United States ruled on this issue in connection with federal credit unions.

Read the Appellate Court's full Decision - In the Matter of Luczaj v. Bornik, et. al., 91 A.D.3d 872 (2d Dep't. 2012)

Federal Court Renders Opinion in Favor of Mitchell Pollack & Associates, PLLC on Two Significant Points of Law...

In the matter of Kohlhausen v. SUNY Rockland Community College, et. al., a former Chairperson of the SUNY Rockland Community College English Department and tenure-track Instructor of Philosophy, filed a lawsuit alleging that the college and various individuals created a hostile work environment and discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII, Title IX, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Defendants moved to dismiss various aspects of the case; however, in a Decision filed February 9, 2011, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York permitted most of the Plaintiff's claims to go forward, significantly, her First Amendment retaliation and Title IX discrimination claims.

Recognizing that there is a split of authority in the United States Circuit Courts as well as within the Southern District of New York, itself, on the issue of whether an employee may bring a gender-based employment claim pursuant to Title IX, U.S. District Judge, James S. Gwin, agreed with our position that Title VII does not provide an exclusive remedy for employment discrimination and that a private right of action under Title IX extends to gender-based employment discrimination by federally-funded educational institutions.

Judge Gwin also permitted the Plaintiff's First Amendment claims to proceed to the extent that they were based on her conversations with co-workers holding that "[c]onversations with co-workers lie outside the scope of a teacher's employment duties where teachers have no official duty to discuss the issue with colleagues and further do not engage in such discussions through a school-instituted dispute resolution process." This ruling is noteworthy because under the United States Supreme Court decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), public employees who speak pursuant to their official duties are not protected by the First Amendment.

Read the Southern District's full Decision - Kohlhausen v. SUNY Rockland Community College, et. al., 2011 WL 1404934 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 9, 2011). This case was ultimately settled in July 2011.

Eastern District Rules that Federal Credit Union Did Not Violate the Equal Credit Opportunity Act when it Denied Plaintiff's Membership Application...

On July 8, 2011, the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York granted Mitchell Pollack & Associates, PLLC's motion to dismiss the complaint filed in Chizh v. Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, 2011 WL 2680495, holding that a precondition for credit eligibility (such as applying for membership in a credit union) is different from a direct application for credit.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. §1691, et. seq. ("the ECOA") makes it unlawful for a financial institution to discriminate against an applicant with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction. We argued that the Plaintiff had not applied for credit but for membership in the credit union and that such membership application was legitimately denied because the identification documents he submitted did not meet the credit union's membership standards and raised red flags with the financial institution's compliance department.

In dismissing the case, U.S. District Judge, Sandra L. Townes, noted that the Plaintiff was seeking "to conflate the process of applying for membership with the process of applying for credit" and that "[n]either the facts nor the law support this interpretation." The Federal Court highlighted that the ECOA is designed to protect people who have applied for credit from various forms of discrimination. It declined, however, to extend the ECOA's application to those individuals who ultimately intend to apply for credit at some time in the future.

Mitchell Pollack & Associates, PLLC Successfully Defends Credit Union in 3 Week Jury Trial and Obtains $3,750,000 Verdict on the Counterclaim...

Prime Time Holdings, LLC v. USAlliance Federal Credit Union, et. al.

In 1996, the Plaintiff, Prime Time Holdings L.L.C., a Greenwich, Connecticut based auto-leasing company, entered into a leasing contract with USAlliance Federal Credit Union. According to the contract's terms, USAlliance's members were eligible to obtain auto leases originated by Prime Time. The program was largely funded by a voluntary-purchase option, which allowed USAlliance to purchase a share of the leases.

In 1997, the contract was redrafted to establish a collateral account, in which some percentage of USAlliance's investments would be held in security. In May 1998, after the credit union discovered that the collateral account was not being funded with the agreed-upon percentage of its investments, the parties established an amended agreement, which specified that all appropriate funds were to be placed in the collateral account within 120 days. When the transfers were not executed by October 1, 1998, USAlliance discontinued use of its voluntary-purchase option.

Prime Time then ceased operations and stopped managing the lease portfolio and sued USAlliance, USAlliance's former chief executive officer, its former attorney, and the remaining members of its Board of Directors. Prime Time claimed that the credit union breached the contract between the two parties and that it engaged in conversion. Prime Time also presented several other business tort claims; however, these claims were dismissed prior to trial.

USAlliance filed counterclaims against Prime Time alleging that Prime Time breached the contract between the two parties, that it breached its fiduciary duty to the credit union and that it engaged in fraud and conversion. Specifically, the credit union claimed that Prime Time failed to repurchase delinquent leases, as it promised to in the contract, and that it generally ceased to manage the lease portfolio, as required. Prior to trial, USAlliance was granted partial summary judgment on its breach of contract claim.

The matter proceeded to trial in the Commercial Part of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Westchester, before the Honorable Kenneth W. Rudolph. After more than three weeks of trial, the matter was submitted to the jury.

In less than two hours, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of USAlliance. Prime Time's complaint was, therefore, dismissed in its entirety. The jury also awarded the credit union $3.75 million in damages, on the counterclaim, to compensate USAlliance for Prime Time's breach of the contract between the two parties.