Klass in the News: Yoko Ono Publicist Kip Kouri Injured at NYC Restaurant, Alleges Homophobic Harassment

By Andrew Hampp
Billboardbiz
July 25, 2014 6:00 PM EDT


Link to original article: Yoko Ono Publicist Kip Kouri Injured at NYC Restaurant, Alleges Homophobic Harassment

Kip Kouri, founder of Tell All Your Friends PR, is one of the most familiar and well-liked faces on the New York indie-rock circuit, repping everyone from Yoko Ono to Les Savy Fav to Guided By Voices to white-hot duo Sylvan Esso.

But a recent visit to Eataly, Mario Batali’s food emporium in New York’s Gramercy Park, ended in a violent altercation with the wait staff, leaving Kouri in stitches after allegedly being thrown through a plate glass window by a security guard. Kouri declined public comment while he sought legal counsel, but clients like Frenchkiss Records’ Syd Butler and Miniature Tigers began tweeting in Kouri’s defense, suggesting the incident was a hate crime and that a security guard used homophobic slurs against Kouri….

…Kouri declined comment, but deferred to his lawyer Richard Klass, who responded to Billboard in a statement: “Mr. Kouri vehemently denies the allegations made in the statement of Eataly’s representative. Mr. Kouri was at Eataly with his stepmother, sister and boyfriend, and a disagreement arose concerning the mishandling by Eataly of Mr. Kouri’s reservation. Mr. Kouri proceeded to leave the store after being harassed by Eataly’s staff, including being called homophobic slurs and enduring the staff’s homophobic hand gestures at him.

“As Mr. Kouri was exiting,” Klass continued, “three security guards became physical and began to push Mr. Kouri, his stepmother and sister, all the while calling him names. The security guards then tackled Mr. Kouri and threw him through a glass door, causing him to sustain serious injuries. Footage from Eataly’s security cameras were reviewed by the New York City Police Department and the investigation of the matter is pending.”

R. A. Klass
Your Court Street Lawyer

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Lawyer Misses the Bus (a $300,000 tale of woe)

The cabbie’s nightmare began with courtesy and continued with insult and injury.

It began as just another busy day in the life of a New York livery cab driver: picking up and dropping off passengers. On this particular day, the cabbie had pulled to the curb just past a bus stop in Manhattan to let out a passenger. He then stepped out of the car to open the passenger’s door. Perhaps he thought a little extra courtesy might result in a bigger tip but, no matter the reason, in this case, it cost him dearly.

The next moment, a New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) bus, while running its regular route, pulled behind the livery cab at the bus stop. The bus driver opened his door and shouted at the driver, “You idiot, what are you doing in the bus stop!” The cabbie calmly apologized and said he’d move his car. However, without waiting for that to happen, the bus driver drove the bus close to the cabbie, requiring him to close his passenger door slightly so as to avoid his car door being damaged by the bus. The bus driver then accelerated the bus and drove closer, striking the cabbie, and causing him severe personal injuries.

The injured driver hired a law firm to bring a personal injury claim. That law firm brought a case against the NYCTA, seemingly the owner and operator of the bus. Unfortunately, the law firm did not learn that the bus operator could only have been an employee of a separate public authority known as the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA) until long past the statute of limitations period in which to make a claim. Only at the deposition of the bus depot dispatcher, held more than two years after the incident, did the law firm learn from the witness that the bus operators for that bus route were all MABSTOA employees and not NYCTA employees (and only because all bus operators listed on the “crew report” had the designation “M” for MABSTOA).

The case against the NYCTA went to trial and the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the NYCTA and dismissed the claims of the livery cab driver. The cab driver then retained Richard A. Klass, Your Court Street Lawyer to make a claim against the personal injury law firm for legal malpractice.

Time-barred by the Statute of Limitations:

The concept of a “ Statute of Limitations ” is that people are afforded a certain amount of time to take action concerning a legal claim they may have; if that period of time passes without taking action, then the ability to pursue the legal claim has been waived. Most people are familiar, for instance, that in New York State the statute of limitations period within which to file most personal injury cases is three years from the date of accident. In this particular case, though, a notice of claim had to be served upon MABSTOA within 90 days of the incident under certain rules contained in the Public Authorities Law and General Municipal Law §50-e; then, an action had to be commenced in 1 year and 90 days after the incident.

Confusion between the MTA, NYCTA and MABSTOA:

Within the “alphabet soup” letters of all of these different municipal authorities lays a trap to catch the unwary. According to the statutory scheme laid out in the Public Authorities Law §1260 et. seq., the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation which was created to oversee the mass transportation systems of New York City, and which functions as an umbrella organization for various other independent but affiliated agencies. See, In re New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign, Inc., 309 AD2d 127 [1 Dept. 2003]. However, aside from the MTA’s overall organization, the MTA and each of its subsidiaries (which include NYCTA and MABSTOA) must be separately sued and are not responsible for each other’s torts. See, Mayayev v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus, 74 AD3d 910 [2 Dept. 2010]. As provided for in Public Authorities Law §1203-a, MABSTOA is a subsidiary, public benefit corporation.

In Nowinski v. City of New York, 189 AD2d 674 [1 Dept. 1993], the plaintiff sued MABSTOA for personal injuries sustained at a location for which the NYCTA maintained responsibility. The plaintiff sought to serve a late notice of claim and both MASTOA and NYCTA moved to dismiss the action. The court held that the injured person was time-barred from serving the late notice of claim, given that the statute of limitations had already long expired. (See, generally, Public Authorities Law §1276).

No claim for being “lulled” into a false sense of security:

To the extent that the law firm could have claimed in its defense that it could not have known of the relationship between the MABSTOA, MTA, NYCTA and the relevant bus operators identified in the crew report, the court in Delacruz v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 45 AD3d 482 [1 Dept. 2007], held that the injured plaintiff could not claim that, by the actions of the MTA, he was “lulled into a false sense of security” that his lawyer sued the right public authority. The court specifically held the doctrine of “equitable estoppel” applies only when a governmental subdivision acts wrongfully or negligently inducing reliance by a party who is entitled to rely and who changes his position to his detriment or prejudice. There was no evidence here of any wrongful conduct by the NYCTA; it did not hide the information about MABSTOA or mislead the injured driver’s lawyer.

The legal malpractice claim was settled for $300,000 to pay for the livery cab driver’s injuries and medical lien. This case only emphasizes the point of how important it is for a lawyer to identify the proper legal entities to be sued on behalf of a client.

by Richard A. Klass, Esq.

———–
copyr. 2014 Richard A. Klass, Esq.
The firm’s website: www.CourtStreetLaw.com
Richard A. Klass, Esq., maintains a law firm engaged in civil litigation in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
He may be reached at (718) COURT-ST or e-ml to RichKlass@courtstreetlaw.com with any questions.
Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Art credits:
Image at top of page: El Gouna (Red Sea, Egypt): public transport bus, customized and highly decorated in genuine Pakistani style. Coach built by Chishti Engineering (Karachi) and decorated by S. Gulzar (Karachi). Author/photographer: Marc Ryckaert, 2009. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

R. A. Klass
Your Court Street Lawyer

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Debt Collection Tips: The necessity of obtaining the debtor’s identifying information

Many creditors fail to obtain information from a potential debtor which may be necessary in the collection process.

In order to maximize the successful collection of a debt, a creditor must make sure that it obtains the information which will help (a) locate the debtor and (b) locate his/her assets or sources of income. A creditor should, at a minimum, obtain the following information:

  1. Social Security Number
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Full name, exactly, with middle name.
  4. Exact address, with zip code.
  5. Employer’s name, address, telephone number, supervisor’s name and direct extension.
  6. Verification of employment signed by employer’s human resources department.
  7. Bank account information, with branch and account number for each account.
  8. Spouse’s name, if applicable.
  9. Telephone numbers for work and home.
  10. Signed authorization from the debtor to obtain credit reports, if applicable.
  11. If debtor is to guarantee another’s account, all information concerning the primary obligor.
  12. Most recent federal and state tax returns, together with W-2, K-1 or 1099 forms.

R. A. Klass
Your Court Street Lawyer

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Probate/Administration: a guide to probate or administration proceedings in New York State.

Upon a person’s death, a proceeding may be brought in the Surrogate’s Court of the county in which the person formerly resided. The proceeding will seek to collect and administer assets of the deceased person, and distribute them to his/her heirs.

There are two basic types of proceedings: Probate and Administration.

Probate:

Where the deceased executed a “Last Will and Testament,” a proceeding will be filed to “probate” [or “prove”] the Will. The deceased, known as the “testator” will have designated an “executor” [someone selected to carry out the deceased’s wishes], who may or may not receive a commission for such services. The deceased will also have designated beneficiaries to receive portions of his/her estate. The deceased may indicate specific bequests of property (such as “to my brother, I leave my guitar”) or general bequests (such as “to my three siblings, I leave them each one-third of my net estate”).

Administration:

Where the deceased did not execute a Will, the person is referred to having died “intestate.” Contrary to popular belief, the assets of that person’s estate do not automatically go to the State. Rather, there is a section of law which specifies the manner in which an intestate’s assets are distributed. Depending on who the survivors of the intestate are (such as a spouse, child, parent, or cousin), the law will tell the “administrator” to whom the net assets of the estate must be paid. The “administrator” serves a similar duty to the deceased’s estate as the “executor” mentioned above, and may be appointed by the Surrogate of the county upon proper application.

Collection of assets

After appointment, the executor/administrator will have the duty to locate and collect the various assets of the deceased. An account may be opened in which the assets will be deposited; non-liquid assets, such as cars, houses, stocks, or furniture may be sold at auction or otherwise converted to money. Actions may be brought on behalf of the deceased to collect moneys due to the estate or for wrongful death/personal injury actions.

Tax returns

After all of the assets have been collected, the executor/administrator will determine whether federal and/or state estate tax returns must be filed. Various banks or institutions may require “tax waivers” or “releases of tax lien” from the State in order to release funds to the executor/administrator.

Accounting

The final duty of the fiduciary is to file with the court an “accounting” of what that person did during his term as executor/administrator.

Professional fees

The fiduciary will retain and pay professionals in connection with the estate proceeding, including attorneys, accountants, brokers, auctioneers, and appraisers.

by Richard A. Klass, Esq.

———–
copyr. 2014 Richard A. Klass, Esq.
The firm’s website: www.CourtStreetLaw.com
Richard A. Klass, Esq., maintains a law firm engaged in civil litigation in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
He may be reached at (718) COURT-ST or e-ml to RichKlass@courtstreetlaw.com with any questions.
Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

R. A. Klass
Your Court Street Lawyer

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