News from Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP


February 20, 2018

Partner Nick Brino and his wife Janine proudly announce the birth of their twin baby boys, Austin Drew and Cole Ryan. The boys join their brother, Logan, to make up the future starting line-up for the Knicks.

February 16, 2018

DSB is proud to announce that Jesse Rutter has been named Contract Partner of the firm. Jesse will continue to handle special school district and municipal defense matters in state and federal court as well as general liability defense matters for the firm.


The law firm is further proud to announce that John Sommers will be joining the firm as an Associate working in Insurance Defense Litigation. John comes to the firm with more than 25 years of experience in personal injury and property damage litigation.

February 15, 2018

DSB successfully argued the applicability of the “continuing storm” defense in proceedings involving a slip and fall incident in Richmond County. It was plaintiff’s position that she fell due to an accumulation of snow and/or ice within a parking lot servicing a large, well-known office supply company. The office supplier had contracted with a snow removal agent for plow services within the lot. The Court found, however, that defendant established its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law through conclusive proof, including weather records and the expert opinion of a forensic meteorologist, that there was an ongoing storm at the time of plaintiff’s fall. The Court further found that there were no issues of fact as to whether the snow removal agent created and/or exacerbated the condition during its removal activities, or whether the condition pre-dated the storm.

February 14, 2018

The firm successfully defended an age discrimination suit brought by a teacher in a small school district on eastern Long Island who had been excessed in 2016. The plaintiff alleged that the decision to excess her was the result of animus toward her age. The district argued that the plaintiff was excessed due to budgetary constraints and if she was not excessed, the district faced the very real possibility of shuttering the door of its single building “school house” district for good. On February 14, 2018, United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein granted the firm’s summary judgment motion and dismissed plaintiff’s Complaint in its entirety. The Judge found that the plaintiff had not established that age was the “but for” reason of the district’s decision to excess her and instead held that the district had a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for excessing her position. The decision was significant in that it greatly increased the likelihood that the small school district can continue to provide a unique educational experience to the students within its small community.

February 6, 2018

DSB successfully moved to dismiss claims against two cooperative owner defendants in a Supreme Court Bronx County case, where a laborer claimed he was injured during the course of a renovation project within defendants’ unit. The Court, upon defendants’ motion for summary judgment, found that defendants could not be held liable pursuant to Sec. 240 and/or 241 of the New York State Labor Law, as they were the owners of a one-family residential cooperative unit, who contracted for but did not direct or control any of the ongoing construction work. The Bronx Supreme Court further found that the defendants did not create or have notice of the allegedly dangerous condition which plaintiff claimed caused his accident.

February 9, 2018

DSB successfully moved to dismiss the federal lawsuit of a school bus driver who claimed that a school district in eastern Long Island had charged her with misconduct and suspended her without pay because of her intimate relationship with a female co-worker. After reviewing Plaintiff’s due process and free speech claims, the federal court found that there was no plausibility to the bus driver’s claim that the district had violated her right to an intimate relationship with her co-worker and also found that the Plaintiff should have raised the issue of her seven-month suspension without pay in state court. DSB further successfully opposed Plaintiff’s attempt to amend her Complaint and dismissed all of Plaintiff’s claims against the district with prejudice.

February 5, 2018

The firm recently obtained summary judgment in the Supreme Court, Queens County, on behalf of its client in a trip and fall case. Plaintiff allegedly tripped over fencing or chicken wire laying on the public sidewalk abutting defendant’s owner-occupied premises, sustaining facial and back injuries. DSB moved for summary judgment on two grounds: 1) lack of notice of the alleged defect and 2) under the homeowner exception in New York City Administrative Code sec. 7-210, the defendant had no duty to keep the public sidewalk reasonably safe. While plaintiff argued that the defendant retained the wire fencing after the accident, alleging creating an issue of control, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument and dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint.

January 29, 2018

The firm successfully moved to dismiss a claim against a large Suffolk County school district alleging improper/insufficient supervision of students. Plaintiff, a high school student, claimed to have been injured in a gym locker room as the result of an altercation with several other boys. The Court held that the District established that adequate supervision was provided and that any perceived lack of supervision was not a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries, as he was a voluntary participant in the altercation.

January 29, 2018

DSB wins another Motion for Summary Judgment. The firm was successful in dismissing plaintiff’s complaint against a Suffolk County homeowner. Plaintiff alleged that she had tripped and fallen on the public sidewalk abutting the defendant’s home, fracturing her left wrist. The Court granted the firm’s motion for summary judgment, finding that although the Islip Town Code imposed a duty on the defendant to maintain the sidewalk, it does not impose tort liability for a violation of that duty. The court also found that the defendants did not create the alleged defective condition nor cause it to exist from any special use.

January 26, 2018

The firm was successful on behalf of a municipal client in temporarily blocking the application of a mining company to expand its mining operation on the grounds that the applicant failed to demonstrate that the proposed expansion was authorized under the municipality’s local zoning laws. The firm petitioned the State Department of Environmental Conservation seeking full party status for the Town in the Administrative Proceeding commenced by the applicant so that the Town could oppose the applicant’s appeal of its permit expansion denial, and in so doing prevailed upon the Administrative Law Judge that the failure of the applicant to demonstrate compliance with local zoning laws required the proceeding to be suspended until proof of compliance with the local law was established. In his decision, the Administrative Law Judge noted that a Long Island municipality’s authority to prohibit mining includes not only the power to prohibit the development of new mines but the power to impose reasonable restrictions to limit the expansion of, and eventually extinguish, prior nonconforming mining uses within such municipalities.

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