News


Justin Gunnell Interviewed on True Crime Podcast

Sher Tremonte counsel, Justin Gunnell, was interviewed by Amanda Knox on her podcast concerning the infamous Preppy Murder case. Listen here.

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Sher Tremonte Prevails in Critical Summary Judgment Decision in Minority Shareholder Squeeze-Out Dispute

Sher Tremonte lawyers Theresa Trzaskoma, Justin Gunnell, and Allegra Noonan recently obtained a highly favorable decision on summary judgment on behalf of their client, a one-third owner of a closely held company that is the general and controlling partner of an asset management firm with more than $10 billion AUM. After our client was forced out of the business, his former partners attempted to dilute his interest in the company by wrongfully issuing shares to themselves at improperly low prices. When our client complained, the company sued him, arguing that, among other things, he should be compelled to tender his shares for a tiny fraction of their value and that he was violating a non-competition agreement. Sher Tremonte brought counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty based on self-dealing and excessive compensation. Adopting nearly all of Sher Tremonte’s arguments, Justice Gretchen Walsh of the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court (Westchester County) dismissed each of the company’s claims against our client. The Court also rejected the other side’s arguments that their conduct was consistent with the shareholders’ agreement, setting up a trial on our client’s improper dilution and excessive compensation claims. Read the decision here.

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Sher Tremonte Fights for Bed-Stuy Homeowner

As part of the firm’s ongoing efforts to give back to the community through pro bono work, Sher Tremonte recently took on the case of Dairus Griffiths, a 65-year-old resident of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn who is fighting to regain title to the historic brownstone where he and his family have lived for 30 years. In 2014, Mr. Griffiths fell victim to a predatory scheme that led to the sale of his home for less than half its market value. Mr. Griffiths had been ensnared in litigation with the buyer for several years and was on the brink of eviction in June 2019, when Sher Tremonte stepped in. In July 2019, partner Theresa Trzaskoma, counsel Justin Gunnell, and associate Tasha Branford secured a temporary restraining order to prevent the buyer from taking any further action to evict Mr. Griffiths and his family. In October 2019, the firm filed affirmative claims against the buyer on Mr. Griffiths’s behalf pursuant to the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act (“HETPA”), a New York State law designed to protect vulnerable homeowners who are either in default on their mortgage payments or whose property is subject to foreclosure. HETPA was enacted in 2006 in response to the growing problem of “fraud, deception, and unfair dealing by home equity purchasers.” Such predatory transactions have become a priority for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, the Brooklyn Borough President’s office and, most recently, Governor Cuomo’s office, which this week called on the state’s Department of Financial Services to investigate the issue. Through his lawsuit against the buyer, Mr. Griffiths seeks to rescind the transaction and obtain a damages award. Follow the links below to read more about Mr. Griffiths’s case and similar cases in Brooklyn. "Why Black Homeowners in Brooklyn Are Being Victimized by Fraud", New York Times "Brooklyn couple sue men they say swindled them out of their home", NY Daily News "Brooklyn borough president slams deal that could cost Bed-Stuy family their home, demands DA investigate", NY Daily News "Bed-Stuy family cries foul over deal that could leave them homeless", NY Daily News

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Sher Tremonte Demands Public Disclosure of Happy the Elephant’s Medical Records

On September 9, 2019, Sher Tremonte attorneys Allegra Noonan, Justin Sher, Justin Gunnell, and Noam Biale, filed an Article 78 Petition on behalf of In Defense of Animals (“IDA”) seeking medical and other records concerning the care of two elephants, Happy and Patty, housed at the Bronx Zoo.  IDA is challenging the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s claim that the Wildlife Conservation Society is not subject to New York’s Freedom of Information Law because it is not a government agency. IDA’s petition arises from concern that the elephants, which are highly social creatures, have experienced health problems as a result of being housed alone at the Bronx Zoo. Ms. Noonan was interviewed by News 12 about the case.  Read more about this case here.

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10 Sher Tremonte Attorneys Named 2019 Super Lawyers

Ten Sher Tremonte attorneys were named as 2019 New York Metro Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Published annually, Super Lawyers identifies leading professionals who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and excellence in their practice areas. Sher Tremonte is proud of partners Theresa Trzaskoma and Justine Harris for their individual achievements. Ms. Trzaskoma has been named as a New York Metro Super Lawyer in White Collar Defense for the tenth consecutive year. Ms. Harris, also a standout in White Collar Defense, has been included in on the Top 50: 2019 Women New York - Metro Super Lawyers list for the third consecutive year. Here is the complete list of Sher Tremonte partners and associates named as 2019 Super Lawyers: Noam Biale, Associate Rising Star in Criminal Defense Justin Gunnell, Counsel Rising Star in Business Litigation Justine Harris, Partner Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White Collar Yonatan Jacobs, Associate Rising Star in Business Litigation Robert Knuts, Partner Super Lawyer in Securities Litigation Kimo Peluso, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Justin Sher, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Michael Tremonte, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Theresa Trzaskoma, Partner Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White Collar Erica Wolff, Counsel Rising Star in Business Litigation

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Article on Decryption Orders Issued to Technology Companies

In July 2019, the Harvard Journal on Legislation published an article by Sher Tremonte associate Jennifer X. Luo. The article, titled “Decoding Pandora’s Box: All Writs Act and Decryption Orders” discusses decryption orders compelling technology companies to provide law enforcement with access to consumer devices.  A link to the article may be found here.

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Sher Tremonte Wins on Issue of First Impression in the Third Circuit, Board Observers Cleared of Liability under Section 11(a)(3) of the 1933 Act

On July 23, 2019, attorneys Michael Tremonte and Justin Gunnell secured a major victory in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which reversed a lower court ruling and directed the entry of summary judgment in favor of Sher Tremonte’s client in an important decision interpreting the scope of liability under Section 11(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933. Section 11(a)(3) of the 33 Act imposes near strict liability for false or misleading statements on “every person who, with his consent, is named in the registration statement as being or about to become a director, person performing similar functions, or partner.”  15 U.S. Code § 77k(a)(3) (emphasis added).  The shareholders of British Virgin Islands-based Tibet Pharmaceuticals, Inc. sued the company’s officers and directors for alleged material misrepresentations and omissions contained in Tibet’s IPO registration statement, and had sought to impose 11(a)(3) liability on Sher Tremonte’s client, Hayden Zou, who was listed as a “board observer” in the prospectus. Sher Tremonte successfully moved for an interlocutory appeal of the lower court’s decision allowing the case to proceed to trial against Mr. Zou (read the decision granting interlocutory review here), who faced potential joint and several liability for damages totaling $16.4 million — the full amount raised in Tibet’s IPO.  On appeal, the Third Circuit adopted Sher Tremonte’s lead arguments and held, as a matter of first impression, that a non-voting board observer cannot be subjected to liability under  Section 11(a)(3), and that determinations of liability under this provision must be decided as a matter of law (read the full opinion here). News reports about this case can be found here: Tibet’s Board Observers Not Liable for IPO Omission (Bloomberg Law) 3rd Circuit Finds Nonvoting Board Observers Not Liable in Shareholder Lawsuits (Law.com) 3rd Circ. Says Board Observers Not Same As Directors (Law360)

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Sher Tremonte Wins Appeal Upholding Dismissal of $8 Million Claim Against Private Equity Firm

On July 2, 2019, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department denied an appeal of an order dismissing all claims against Sher Tremonte’s client, a private equity firm. The plaintiff purchased a NYC-based organic juice business from Sher Tremonte’s client, the former majority owner of the business.  The purchaser filed a lawsuit against Sher Tremonte’s client, alleging that it breached the sale contract by failing to provide good title to all ownership interests in the business.  The lower court found that Sher Tremonte’s client did provide good title under the sale contract and dismissed the $8 million complaint against it.  The appellate court confirmed the lower court’s decision in its entirety.  The case was handled by Sher Tremonte partners, Michael Tremonte and Mark Cuccaro.  Read the opinion here.

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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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