Central Park Five suit against New York State stalls over confidential documents

The Central Park Five's $52 million lawsuit against New York State is stalled because Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hasn't agreed to keep confidential documents under wraps, lawyers claim. New York City and the then-teens wrongly convicted of a 1989 gang rape and beating agreed to a $40 million settlement in June 2014. FLASHBACK: CENTRAL PARK JOGGER IS RAPED AND BEATEN IN 1989 Both sides agreed in July 2015 to declassify 95 depositions and 200,000 documents from the controversial case once they agreed to redaction. The quintet moved to reactivate their civil lawsuit against the state in late 2014. To go forward with the state lawsuit, their lawyers must share this evidence with Schneiderman's office. Because the declassification isn't complete, Schneiderman would have to agree to keep this evidence confidential. DAILY NEWS SPECIAL: THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE The state AG's office has refused to agree, delaying the litigation, Central Park Five lawyers have claimed. Schneiderman's office stands by its position, maintaining it has concerns about agreeing to confidentiality without first reviewing the documents. "This office will do all it can to move this process forward as quickly and judiciously as possible while protecting the interests of the State and the public," Doug Cohen, spokesman for Schneiderman, told The News in an e-mail. Continue Reading

Grand Central Terminal owner files $1.3 billion suit against New York City, One Vanderbilt developer over air rights

The owner of Grand Central Terminal has sued the city and a rival developer for a whopping $1.3 billion for allegedly screwing him out of the building’s valuable air rights by allowing his competitor to build a skyscraper next door for free. Real estate honcho Andrew Penson filed the suit late Monday in Manhattan Federal Court. He says he bought the terminal in 2006 mainly for its air rights, which are property rights to build on a site that can be transferred to nearby developments. In some cases, the air rights of a building can be more valuable than the building itself, the suit notes. Penson says the city encouraged him to make the purchase because a big payday was on the horizon for developers eyeing Vanderbilt Ave. Those builders were potential buyers of Grand Central’s 1.2 million square feet of air rights, which would have allowed them to build higher. But in December 2011 SL Green, the largest commercial landlord in the city, announced it had acquired three lots on Vanderbilt Ave. for a 63-story tower — that would be built without any of Grand Central’s air rights. The mega-development dubbed One Vanderbilt — which was approved by the city — rendered much of Penson’s air rights worthless, documents charge. “The Department of City Planning ... worked privately with SL Green to develop a change to the local zoning laws that effectively gave SL Green the (air rights) for free,” the suit reads. The suit asks a judge to declare the permits for construction of 1 Vanderbilt invalid. Mayor de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell called 1 Vanderbilt “critical to helping New York City compete as a global center of finance and business.” SL Green spokesman Jonathan Rosen said the skyscraper “won't be sidetracked by frivolous litigation.” The suit was first reported by The New York Times. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Pras Michel of the Fugees files $30M suit against New York Post after story about his missing a 9/11 concert

Sur-Pras! Grammy-winning Fugees singer Prakazrel Samuel Michel, (aka Pras) has filed a $30 million lawsuit against the New York Post over an article that claimed he “bailed on his own 9/11 benefit concert.” The Brooklyn native says he had nothing to do with the organization hosting the event in question and was on another continent in the days leading up to the concert. The accusations have also prompted Pras to employ both a lawyer and a shrink. On Sunday, the notoriously fact-challenged Post ran a story alleging the 41-year-old “Ghetto Superstar” singer was a “no show” at a benefit for “his” Hope for Them organization in Hell’s Kitchen. The case, filed in Broward County, Fla., where Pras resides, claims “the reckless ‘reporting’ would be deemed as such had a high school student drafted the Article.” It further contends that the paper ran the tall tale without “attempting any real outreach to uncover if any truth existed.” “I was in L.A. when this event happened,” Pras told [email protected], doing unrelated charity work and watching a wrestling match in the days before the 9/11 event. “I’d just come back from North Korea.” The Post reports that promoter Mike Jean told them Pras didn’t perform at the 9/11 event because he had the flu, though the former Fugee told us he felt perfectly fine in September. He also said he’d been planning the trip to North Korea since March. “You don’t just ‘go’ to North Korea,” Pras said. He also said he has no problem with media gossip coverage, but draws the line when it comes to compromising his value as a celebrity philanthropist. “When you talk about charity, that is serious,” he said. “I have to litigate.” Pras says dozens of people have called to ask why he bailed on a Sept. 11 charity. All he can tell them, he Continue Reading

Libel suit against New York Post over Boston Marathon front page allowed by judge

A judge has denied a bid by the New York Post to dismiss a libel lawsuit filed by two men who were depicted on the front page as “Bag Men” during the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers. The suit was filed in Massachusetts by Salaheddin Barhoum, 17, and Yassine Zaimi, 24. The image of two men — one wearing a backpack, the other carrying a duffel bag — ran in the newspaper on April 18. In their complaint, the two men said they “were not suspects and were not being sought by law enforcement” for involvement in the April 15 bombing that killed three people and injured 264. Continue Reading

Attorney for brain-damaged boxer Magomed Abdusalamov files negligence suit against New York State Athletic Commission

The attorney representing brain-damaged boxer Magomed Abdusalamov filed the long-awaited lawsuit alleging negligence and medical mismanagement by New York State Athletic Commission doctors, as well as several other parties who oversaw the heavyweight bout on Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden that left Abdusalamov in a coma, according to an ESPN report. Despite myriad injuries, Abdusalamov was never transported by ambulance to a hospital by the commission doctors who checked him out following his decision loss to Mike Perez, the report says. Instead, he had to hail a cab and unsupervised, with only his handlers to shepherd him, made his way to Roosevelt Hospital perhaps a mile from the Garden. Though Abdusalamov complained of head pain, he was only told by the commission doctors to get examined a day or two following the bout, according to the ESPN report. “These doctors screwed up beyond belief,” the fighter’s attorney, Paul Edelstein told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Wednesday, the same day the suit was filed in Kings County Court. “Not giving him proper post-fight medical attention was reckless and egregious; not stopping the fight was negligent.” The state inspector general initiated an investigation in November into the circumstances surrounding the fight at the urging of the office of New York’s Secretary of State, the administrative body overseeing the commission. But the investigation is still ongoing. On Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo appointed the New York-based attorney and fight manager David Berlin as the commission’s new executive director, a job he will start on May 1. The suit does not specify monetary damages, but says Abdusalamov will need exhaustive medical care for years to come, according to the ESPN report. The referee for the bout, the commission’s inspector, Madison Square Garden, K2 Promotions and five state commission doctors, including Dr. Barry Jordan, the commission’s chief Continue Reading

Ex-editor’s suit against New York Post headed to trial, judge rules

A lawsuit filed against the New York Post by a former editor who claimed she was fired because she complained about a controversial political cartoon can head to trial, a judge ruled Tuesday. Sandra Guzman, who was editor of the Post’s Tempo magazine, sued the newspaper and Editor-in-Chief Col Allan in 2009. The judge dismissed parent company News Corp. from the suit. She said she was harassed by her bosses due to her race and gender and was wrongfully fired. The newspaper said it let Guzman go when it shut down Tempo due to poor ad sales. The cartoon depicted a slain chimpanzee that many interpreted as a reference to President Obama. “We look forward to presenting the truth about the remaining charges — which are completely unfounded — to a jury,” the Post said in a statement. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Mariel Haenn, stylist to Jay-Z, Rihanna, wins suit against New York agent

A California stylist to the stars, who dresses the likes of Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Keri Hilson and Jay-Z, has won a three-year court battle with a New York agent. A Manhattan judge has ordered the agent, Carline Balan, to pay Mariel Haenn $30,000 in installments over the next three months. If she's late, the amount jumps to $40,000 plus interest. The decision posted Thursday comes after Haenn sued Balan in 2010, alleging Balan owed her $48,674. Haenn said in court records that she had hired Balan in 2008 as her agent, assigning her the job of sending invoices to clients, collecting payments and forwarding them to her after taking a fee. Haenn said Balan collected payments from Jay-Z, Keri Hilson, Rihanna and Jada Pinkett Smith but had not forwarded the funds. Balan disputed that and countersued for $500,000, saying Haenn, who used to work with her, had broken a commitment not to solicit her clients when she left. The invoices in dispute covered Haenn's work for Jay-Z as a personal shopper, help with his wardrobe for the MTV Video Music Awards and the BET Hip-Hop Awards, and services in connection with his "Empire State of Mind" video. Haenn said in court papers that they also covered personal shopping for Smith, Hilson's "Slow Dance" video premiere, and her appearances on “Today” and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” and Rihanna's look in Q Magazine and Vme Magazine. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

CityBeat: New York-based Dr. Aye Moe Thu Ma headed a much-needed medical mission to her native Myanmar

Dr. Aye Moe Thu Ma escaped her native Burma around the same time military generals came to power in the wartorn Southeast Asian country and renamed it Myanmar. “There was an uprising in 1988,” said Ma, whose family lived in the former capital, Yangon. “The schools were closed. People got killed in my neighborhood.” Ma’s relatives scattered across the world, settling in London and Australia. Her immediate family moved to San Francisco, then to Brooklyn, where she still lives. The military barred Myanmar’s doors to outsiders for more than 20 years, over which time Ma graduated from Saint Lawrence University, earned a medical degree from Stony Brook University Medical Center School of Medicine with a residency at Westchester Medical Center and a fellowship at the University of Texas before returning to the city as a breast cancer specialist at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. Knowing the state of medical care in the nation she still calls Burma, Ma longed to share her expertise with her former countrymen. So in January, Ma organized a 15-strong team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and St. Luke Roosevelt residents to make a week-long medical mission to two Burmese hospitals. The group treated more than 180 people with procedures that included lumpectomies, breast biopsies, ultrasounds, breast cancer and goiter surgery. More than 300 hopeful people were waiting at the Mandalay General Hospital when the team arrived, with a similar crowd at Wachet Hospital, which is 30 minutes from Mandalay, on the Irrawady River. “I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowds the first day,” Ma said. “Some people traveled three hours to get there. “Burma is one of the poorest countries in the world,” she said. “They don’t allocate any money for health care. Patients come to a hospital to be treated, but whatever medications they might need they must supply them themselves.” Continue Reading

Dragged down aisle: 300 New York brides report they were forced into marriage

Some 300 girls and women in New York State reported being forced into marriage in just two years - and two who refused said they almost paid with their life. That's according to a new survey of immigrant and women's service providers that sought to quantify the extent of the practice here and in other states. Advocates say the problem cuts across cultural borders and is so widespread - 3,000 cases nationwide - that the U.S. needs stronger laws to stop it from happening. "Some women who do say 'No' suffer very dire consequences," said Archana Pyati, a lawyer for the New York City-based Sanctuary for Families. Forced marriage is different from arranged marriage because it happens without consent and can involve an underage victim. Some city teens fly to their parents' homeland for what they think is a vacation and wind up stuck in a marriage against their will. Others face beatings or worse if they refuse a wedding here - sometimes by parents who stand to gain financially by the union. One of Pyati's clients, a girl from a West African family, was 15 when she became a bride by proxy. Her father arranged the marriage while visiting his homeland, while she was back in their New York apartment. When the time came to get on a plane, she said no. "She refused and refused and suffered physical violence in the home," Pyati said. Finally, she agreed to move to Georgia and become the wife of a West African man there, Pyati said. After being beaten, she fled. She was 17 and pregnant. Noor Faleh Almaleki was killed in 2009 after being struck by an SUV driven by her father because she refused an arranged marriage. "When she came running back, they kicked her out of her home," said Pyati. "Now she's raising her baby on her own." Another client came to the U.S. at age 13 and was forced into a marriage arranged by her mother, Pyati said. "The man enrolled her in school as her father and went home every night and raped her," Pyati said of the girl, who is now Continue Reading

Plaza Hotel is Suite-er; New York gem reopens after $400 million upgrade

The storied Plaza hotel welcomed its first guests Saturday after a $400 million face-lift that kept it shut for three years.And for those with pockets deep enough to stay there, the "Castle on the Park" is living up to its luxurious reputation.White-gloved butlers on every floor take guests to rooms where even the toilet-paper holders are gilded in 24-karat gold."It's part of New York history," said Ruthann Picerno from Lyndhurst, N.J., who was the first guest since renovations ended."I booked my room over a year ago. I've wanted to stay here since I was 17, and when it closed I was crushed. I wanted to be the first guest to arrive on opening day."The 282 guestrooms, which start at $715 a night, include 102 suites costing much more."This is the only hotel in New York with butlers on every floor, and the only one in the world with gold-plated faucets in every room," said Miki Naftali, CEO of Elad Properties, which owns The Plaza."Every corner of this great Castle on the Park we have made sure is perfect."The hotel is fully booked for weeks, staff said. The building also contains 181 private apartments - all but one of which has been sold, said Naftali."From what I saw, it is magnificent," said a Fifth Ave. resident who refused to give her name but was making lunch reservations Saturday."I've stayed there and eaten there all my life," she said. "I can tell you the lobby has completely changed, but it looked amazing." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading