John P. Curley, a partner of the firm, focuses on complex business and securities litigation and white collar enforcement proceedings. Mr. Curley represents clients in securities-related regulatory investigations and proceedings, including investigations by FINRA, the CFTC, the SEC, a state attorney general, and the Department of Justice. Recent work includes the successful defense of an equities trader against unfounded insider trading allegations. A FINRA panel dismissed the proceeding in its entirety following a three-day disciplinary hearing.
Mr. Curley also represents clients in civil securities litigation and complex commercial disputes, including RICO and securities fraud. Recent work includes defending clients in connection with international money laundering allegations and defending a former director of a publicly-traded company in securities litigation. Mr. Curley also handles trade secrets litigation. Notable work in this area includes the successful representation of an international bank in which the firm obtained emergency injunctive relief against a former bank employee and oversaw a forensic analysis of the defendant’s computers.
In addition, Mr. Curley has experience handling employment litigation, including discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower claims. Examples include the defense of a public authority in a whistleblower retaliation suit that ended in a verdict for our client after a week-long jury trial in the Eastern District of New York.
Before joining the firm, Mr. Curley served as a law clerk to the Honorable Joanna Seybert, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. Before that, he was a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.
Mr. Curley graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University School of Law, where he was a senior articles editor of the St. John’s Law Review. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2003. Before law school, he served on the staff of a US Congresswoman.
Mr. Curley is a member of the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court and the New York County Lawyers’ Association. He was recently named to the St. John’s University School of Law Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.
HNRK Obtains Summary Judgment on Discrimination and Retaliation Claims in a Significant Win for Employers
On July 17, Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney, LLP secured the dismissal of a multi-plaintiff employment and civil rights lawsuit against two public agencies. The case is a significant win for employers because the court rejected the idea that poorly performing employees who claim they were discharged in retaliation for engaging in protected activity can demonstrate pretext by arguing that their employers tolerated their poor performance prior to the protected activity.
This issue can arise in cases, for example, where employers give struggling employees a number of “second chances” before their patience runs out. One of the plaintiffs in this case, a contract consultant for the MTA Capital Construction Company, had made an internal race discrimination prior to Capital Construction’s decision not to renew her contract for performance reasons. The plaintiff argued that the nonrenewal was retaliatory and that the performance issues that Capital Construction cited as the reasons for its decision were pretext because it supposedly “tolerated” the plaintiff’s shortcomings “from the outset.”
The court succinctly rejected this argument, noting “[N]early all sub-standard employee performance is tolerated for some time by the employer before it results in a discharge.” The court’s rationale reflects a common-sense recognition of the realities of the modern workplace, and we imagine this language will be cited frequently in defense briefs and judicial opinions in the future.
The case is Mitchell v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Construction Corporation, No. 16 CIV. 3534 (KPF), 2018 WL 3442895 (S.D.N.Y. July 17, 2018) [view Opinion here]. The court dismissed the plaintiffs’ Title VII, Section 1981, and New York State Human Rights Law discrimination and retaliation claims with prejudice. It declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ New York City Human Rights Law claims and dismissed those claims without prejudice.
Partner John Curley discusses FINRA’s enforcement process in a guest article for ThinkAdvisor.
Further highlighting Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney, LLP’s longstanding reputation as a litigation powerhouse, Super Lawyers today announced that it has tapped nine of the firm’s partners and counsel as 2017 Super Lawyers. Many of those recognized have received multiple Super Lawyer awards acknowledging their consistent dedication to client service and to furthering the profession.
As set forth in a March 6, 2017 court decision, we defeated a summary judgment motion by over 20 insurance companies that sought to prevent our client from putting its case to the jury for insurance for alleged “property damage” over 26 years of insurance policies. The insurance claims are for defense and settlement costs in excess of $100 million incurred by our client in a nationwide class action product liability litigation (which was settled without any finding of liability), brought by community water systems alleging that our client’s herbicide product, applied for more than 60 years to neighboring cropland, contaminated their water systems. The insurers argued that our client could not prove that “property damage,” as defined in the policies, had occurred in all of the policy periods. We successfully persuaded the court that our client was entitled to present to the jury the expert scientific testimony of its chemical fate and transport expert for its determination whether the alleged “property damage” more likely than not occurred during the policy periods at issue. The court agreed, finding that there were issues of fact as to whether the herbicide product “could/did reach” the community water systems’ water supplies during the policy periods and whether it “could/did contribute to the detections” reported by the community water systems in connection with the settlement, and denied the insurers’ summary judgment motion.
Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney recently won summary judgment in lieu of a complaint in litigation arising from the sale of valuable artwork. The defendant, a gallery owner, entered into a promissory note to resolve a dispute with Hoguet Newman’s client over the proceeds from a consignment sale of several pieces of art (the gallery sold the art but did not send our client his share of the purchase price). After the defendant failed to make the payments required by the note, we moved for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint. The Court found in favor of our client and rejected the defendant’s arguments that the note was not enforceable.
As set forth in a September 2, 2015 court decision, we defeated summary judgment motions filed by 30 of our client’s insurance companies that had claimed that pollution exclusions in their policies barred all coverage for our client’s claims. The insurance claims are for defense and settlement costs in excess of $100 million incurred by our client in class action product liability litigation (which was settled without any finding of liability), brought by community water systems alleging that our client’s herbicide product applied to neighboring cropland contaminated their water. The winning argument for our client was that, as a threshold matter, the pollution exclusions cannot apply unless the insurers prove that the substance is a “pollutant” (within the meaning of the exclusions). The judge agreed, found that the insurers had not established that our client’s herbicide product was a “pollutant” within the meaning of the exclusions, and denied the insurers’ summary judgment motions.
We are pleased to announce that John Curley and Helene Hechtkopf have become partners of the firm.
Mr. Curley’s practice includes complex business litigation and white collar enforcement proceedings. Recent matters include defending individuals before FINRA and the SEC as well as representing an international bank in trade secrets litigation and a testing company in litigation arising from an explosion and fire at an oil refinery. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Joanna Seybert, US. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, and before that he was a litigation associate at an international law firm. He graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University School of Law.
Ms. Hechtkopf’s practice involves a wide range of commercial and employment litigation, appellate litigation, and white collar criminal matters. She has represented individuals in investigations by FINRA and other regulatory agencies. She recently concluded a five-week bench trial in the Southern District of New York representing a state agency in a contract dispute with a large defense contractor. Ms. Hechtkopf is admitted to practice in the State of New York, State of New Jersey, and the United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She graduated cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and earned a B.A. with high distinction from the University of Virginia.
On May 13, 2013, a federal jury returned a verdict in favor of Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney, LLP’s client, a transit agency, after a week-long trial in the Eastern District of New York.
The plaintiff, a transit employee, alleged that he was retaliated against by his employer and 10 of its present and former employees for making a safety report. Hoguet Newman represented the defendants.
The suit was brought under a federal whistleblower statute: the National Transit Systems Security Act (“NTSSA”), 6 U.S.C. § 1142, which was enacted in 2007 to protect the employees of public transportation systems from retaliation due to having made a safety-related report or complaint (See, Retaliation Claims in the Transit System Context). The plaintiff also brought a First Amendment Claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which was dismissed by Judge John Gleeson at the close of the plaintiff’s case, and several other claims that were dismissed by Judge Gleeson on summary judgment (including a Due Process claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a claim under the Family Medical Leave Act). All of the individual defendants were dismissed before the case went to the jury.
The jury determined that the transit agency did not retaliate against the plaintiff.