News


Sher Tremonte Secures Multiple Pro Bono Victories

Over the last month, Sher Tremonte LLP has notched three significant victories in pro bono cases. In May, associate and Pro Bono Coordinator Noam Biale won release of a lawful permanent resident who had been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) for nearly a year-and-a-half and who was at risk for immediate deportation. Judge Pamela K. Chen of the Eastern District of New York appointed Sher Tremonte to represent the individual, who had filed a pro se coram nobis petition in her court. Working with state appellate lawyers and immigration counsel, Mr. Biale was able to help our client take advantage of a change in New York law that made his prior conviction no longer a deportable offense, and won his release from immigration custody. Also in May, counsel Erica Wolff, along with co-founding partner Michael Tremonte and associates Tasha Branford and Anna Estevao, represented a woman in a civil rights case in federal district court in White Plains. Our client had been the victim of excessive force by an officer in the Putnam County Sheriffs’ Office, who had used an inappropriate maneuver to tackle her to the ground causing her to sustain serious injuries to her face. The firm was again appointed by the court, in this case to take the matter to trial. Ms. Wolff and the Sher Tremonte team prepared the case in an extremely short period of time, and, on the eve of trial, obtained a very favorable settlement. Finally, on June 18, Sher Tremonte won a pro bono victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, obtaining a rare reversal of the district court in a summary order. Our client, Kevin Jefferson, had pursued a civil rights claim in the Eastern District of New York, but the district court dismissed his case for failure to prosecute because he missed one court deadline and then failed to pay a monetary sanction the court had imposed on him, which he could not afford. On appeal, associate Amanda Ravich (with Noam Biale) argued that delays in the district court were caused by both parties and the court itself, and that the monetary sanction violated due process. The Second Circuit agreed, holding that the dismissal of Mr. Jefferson’s case was an abuse of discretion, and imposition of a monetary sanction he could not afford was plain error. Sher Tremonte maintains an active pro bono docket, reflecting the firm’s substantial commitment to litigating on behalf of clients in the public interest. The firm has appeared as pro bono counsel at all levels of the state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and its reputation for “punch[ing] above [its] weight” in the public interest arena was profiled last year in Law360.

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Sher Tremonte Prevails Against Newsweek

On April 11, 2019, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department denied Newsweek Media Group, Inc.’s (“Newsweek”) appeal seeking to set aside a judgment in favor of Sher Tremonte’s client, a prominent internet advertising company.  The litigation stemmed from a settlement agreement requiring Newsweek to make payments to Sher Tremonte’s client within a certain timeframe, or else be obligated to pay a larger amount.  Newsweek made multiple late payments.  The appellate court rejected Newsweek’s argument that the lateness of its payments could be overlooked, and therefore upheld the judgment in the larger amount in favor of Sher Tremonte’s client.  Read the opinion here.

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Sher Tremonte Wins Complete Dismissal of Securities Fraud Suit

On March 30, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Sher Tremonte’s motion to dismiss an action against the firm’s client under Section 20 of the Securities and Exchange Act. Plaintiffs, institutional investors who had purchased almost $1 million worth of common stock in Arista Power (a start-up focused on developing wind turbines), alleged that Sher Tremonte’s client, the former Chairman of Arista’s Board of Directors, was liable for the loss of plaintiffs’ investments under a theory of control person liability for alleged misrepresentations made by Arista’s CEO concerning the source of Arista’s funding. After previously granting motions to dismiss the first amended complaint with leave to replead, the Court has now dismissed the action in its entirety with prejudice, finding that plaintiffs’ second amended complaint failed to adequately allege that the purported misrepresentations actually caused plaintiffs’ losses and thus could not state a claim against Sher Tremonte’s client for control person liability. The case was handled by partner Robert Knuts and counsel Erica A. Wolff. Read the full decision here.

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Sher Tremonte Secures Dismissal of Claims Against Co-Founders of Australian Tech Company

On January 16, 2019, Sher Tremonte secured a dismissal on behalf of its clients, two co-founders of an Australian legal services technology business, in a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court alleging that they had improperly interfered with their former business associate’s subsequent business endeavors.  The plaintiff, the CEO of a tech company headquartered in New York and brother of one of the defendants, alleged that the defendants made derogatory statements about how he had defrauded them out of their ownership interest in the business the three of them had co-founded, and that these statements interfered with his ability to engage in other transactions.  Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the defendants, as residents of Australia with no significant connections to New York, are not subject to the jurisdiction of New York courts.  As a result of this motion, the plaintiff voluntarily agreed to withdraw the suit in New York, resulting in a court order dismissing the action.

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Appellate Court Upholds Rare Dismissal of Action to Confirm Arbitration Award

On December 27, 2018, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department denied an appeal seeking to reverse the dismissal of an action to confirm an unfavorable arbitration award against Sher Tremonte’s client, a real estate investor.  The lower court had dismissed the case on the ground that service had not been effected because the process server did not properly affix the legal papers to the defendant’s door.  The appellate court rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to have this dismissal reversed and further denied plaintiffs’ request for additional time to effect service on Sher Tremonte’s client.  Read the opinion here.

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Sher Tremonte Promotes Justin Gunnell and Erica Wolff to Counsel

Sher Tremonte is pleased to announce that Justin J. Gunnell and Erica A. Wolff have been promoted to Counsel.  

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11 Sher Tremonte Attorneys Named 2018 Super Lawyers

Super Lawyers has identified eleven Sher Tremonte attorneys as 2018 New York Metro Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Published annually, Super Lawyers selects leading professionals who have attained a high degree of peer recognition, as well as excellence in their practice area. Sher Tremonte is proud that two of its partners Justine Harris and Michael Tremonte were also included on the Top 100: 2018 New York - Metro Super Lawyers list. Ms. Harris was additionally recognized on the Top 50: 2018 Women New York - Metro Super Lawyers list. Attorneys selected to these lists are measured against 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Here is the complete list of Sher Tremonte partners and associates named as 2018 Super Lawyers: Noam Biale, Associate Rising Star in Criminal Defense 2017-2018 Michael Gibaldi, Associate Rising Star in Criminal Defense: White Collar 2017-2018 Justin Gunnell, Associate Rising Star in Business Litigation 2015-2018 Justine Harris, Partner Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White Collar 2013-2018 Yonatan Jacobs, Associate Rising Star in Business Litigation 2014-2018 Robert Knuts, Partner Super Lawyer in Securities Litigation 2006-2010, 2013-2018 Kimo Peluso, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation 2017-2018 Justin Sher, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation 2014-2018 Michael Tremonte, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation 2014-2018 Theresa Trzaskoma, Partner Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White Collar 2010-2018 Erica Wolff, Associate Rising Star in Civil Litigation 2016-2018

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In Rare Win by Shareholder Against Manhattan Co-Op Board, Court Rules “The Business Judgment Rule is not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card”

On September 14, 2018, the New York Supreme Court granted a petition filed by Sher Tremonte on behalf of its client, a shareholder and tenant of a co-op apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, against a co-op board.  After initially approving the shareholder’s application to purchase and combine an adjacent apartment, the board attempted to rescind its approval and impose new conditions.  Accepting Sher Tremonte’s argument that the board’s original approval constituted a binding commitment, the court held that the board was “estopped from setting conditions that were not already contained” in its prior resolution.  The Court ruled that the board’s decision to rescind its prior approval was not entitled to the protection of the business judgment rule, explaining “the Business Judgment Rule is not a get-out-of-jail-free card protecting any and all board activity.”  Read the court’s full opinion here.

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Sher Tremonte Wins Landmark Expansion of Prisoners’ Free Speech Rights

On May 9, 2018, Sher Tremonte won a precedent-setting victory for prisoners’ constitutional rights in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prison guards at a New York State prison placed Sher Tremonte’s client, Mark Burns, in segregated confinement for nearly nine months because he refused their demands to provide information about other prisoners on an ongoing basis. Mr. Burns filed suit pro se in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging retaliation for the exercise of his constitutional rights. The district judge held that Mr. Burns had no right to refuse to become an informant for the guards. On appeal, the Second Circuit appointed Sher Tremonte as pro bono counsel to brief a novel legal issue: whether an incarcerated individual has a constitutional right to refuse to become a prison informant. Although no appellate court in the country had previously recognized such a “right not to snitch,” Sher Tremonte attorneys Noam Biale and Michael Gibaldi successfully argued that the First Amendment’s “right not to speak” protected Mr. Burns’s refusal to provide information. In an opinion by Circuit Judge Pooler, the Second Circuit adopted Sher Tremonte’s First Amendment theory and, breaking new legal ground, held that “the First Amendment protects both a prisoner’s right not to serve as an informant, and to refuse to provide false information to prison officials.” In reaching that conclusion, the court drew on authorities from John Adams to Justice Gorsuch, reasoning that “compelled speech presents a unique affront to personal dignity” and that “forcing an inmate to serve as an informant on an ongoing basis is not reasonably related to a legitimate penological purpose.” The court held that the guards’ “arbitrary incursion” on Mr. Burns’s “strong First Amendment interest . . . cannot be countenanced under our constitutional system.” Read the full decision here and Sher Tremonte’s opening brief here. Read press coverage on Sher Tremonte’s victory here and here, and listen to NPR’s The Takeaway discuss the decision here.

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Sher Tremonte Wins Rare Petition for Interlocutory Appeal before the Third Circuit in IPO Class-Action Fraud Suit

On February 21, 2018, Sher Tremonte LLP won a motion for interlocutory appeal before Judge Michael Vazquez of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey allowing its client to petition the Third Circuit for immediate relief.  Class-action Plaintiffs, shareholders of a publicly-traded company specializing in Tibetan medicine, seek to hold the Company’s non-director, non-voting, board observers (including Sher Tremonte’s client who was appointed as an observer to the Board of Directors) strictly liable for alleged misrepresentations in the Company’s IPO registration documents.  Sher Tremonte lawyers Michael Tremonte, Justin Gunnell and Scott Cargill requested the District Court’s permission to present to the Third Circuit the question of whether a non-voting board observer can be held strictly liable under Section 11(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933 as a person “named in the registration statement” as “performing similar functions” to a director.  In granting Sher Tremonte’s motion, Judge Vazquez found that the “Third Circuit’s resolution of what the correct legal standard is regarding liability of nondirectors under Section 11 would help facilitate the development of law.”  Read the District Court’s full opinion here. On April 4, 2018, over Plaintiff’s opposition, the Third Circuit granted Sher Tremonte’s petition, permitting it to file the interlocutory appeal. Read the Third Circuit order granting the petition here.

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