A NYC was terminated over the alleged inefficient performance of his duties. We successfully argued that the DOC missed their procedural obligations to terminate the CO within 24 months from start date by one day. This case went to a full judicial decision which ruled in his favor and the DOC decided not to appeal the decision.
Koehler & Isaacs successfully represented a New York City Correction officer who was injured in two Use of Force cases. The CO was MMR for a year and then returned to work full duty. The DOC subsequently terminated him months after he returned to duty. Koehler & Isaacs sued, alleging violation of disability discrimination laws. Thanks to our vigorous legal representation and advocacy, we secured his reinstatement with full back pay.
State Supreme Court Judge Acknowledges, for the First Time, That the City Has Failed to Keep Correction Officers Safe, Gives The Green Light for Potentially Precedent-Setting Case
By: Steven Isaacs & Liam Castro
The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association brought a case, by its attorneys Koehler and Isaacs LLP, and the first of its kind in New York, against the City because of its failure to provide to correction officers proper training to deal with, and equipment to protect themselves against violent inmates. COBA believes the City’s failures have resulted, and continue to result in unnecessary, preventable, and serious injuries to its members. This is unacceptable.
The City asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the action because it believed this involved a dispute over tactics, over which the Court has no jurisdiction. On July 12, 2019, the Court released its decision entirely rejecting the City’s argument. The Supreme Court held the City failed to address the danger caused by violent inmates. “This systematic failure is due, in large part, to DOC’s decision not to properly train and equip correction officers so that they can maintain order and security in the jail system, and protect themselves and others from these dangerous inmates…” The City had “not shown that DOC has implemented the controls mandated by the (Workplace Violence Law) or conducted risk assessments for incidents of violence, or defused areas of concern by taking mitigating steps, such as considering the propensities of a part of a jail population, as well as properly training and equipping correction officers to address some of these problems.”
COBA General Counsel Steven Isaacs said that he “hopes the City, instead of the usual defensive reaction and appeal, carefully examines the Judge’s reasoning and addresses the violence in the jails by ensuring it provide proper training and equipment to protect correction officers. Furthermore, the Judge’s decision in this case can benefit all municipal employees in the state whose employers are not properly addressing and protecting them from injuries.”
“In 2013 the NYS Department of Labor found 5 serious systematic violations of the law by the City’s Correction Department,” said COBA Director of Legal Affairs Marc Steier. “Since then, and particularly under the current union administration, the COBA has constantly pointed out the ineffectual Workplace Violence program at the Department. This is a historic judicial decision that gives all municipal workers a meaningful avenue of redress. The Judge’s denunciation of the Department’s reckless disregard of Officer’s safety validates what we have always known – Correction Officers did not “sign up” to be punching bags for inmates or cannon fodder for political ends. Unbelievably, the City’s attorneys made this very argument and even suggested the matter unworthy of judicial review. The reality is that the Department has a special relationship to keep its workers safe – a relationship they have long ignored in favor of so-called reform changes that make everyone unsafe. Perhaps with Judge Rubén Franco’s assistance, we can finally see sanity restored along with security.”
Correction officer fired after being injured at work settles suit with DOC
Chelsea Rose Marcius, New York Daily News
July 14, 2019
Dispigno, 27, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus while going through an agility course at the DOC academy in Middle Village, Queens in February 2016 — hearing a sickening pop, but treating the pain with ice packs and reporting to work the next day.
But when the pain persisted, the Brooklyn officer went to a doctor, who told him he needed surgery. The DOC’s Health Management Division approved his time off for the procedure.
Dispigno had the operation, but opted out of full ACL reconstruction that would’ve required a much longer post-surgical rehabilitation — and a lot of missed work time.
Wrongfully fired Rikers Island correction officer wins legal fight to regain her job, collect back pay
by: Ellen Moynahan
While most folks on Rikers Island are eager to get out, Benita Sims fought her way back in.
The fired correction officer reached a June 19 settlement where the city agreed to reinstate her job, plus kick in more than $40,000 in back pay, after a legal battle over her dismissal last year, according to her attorneys.
Sims, 40, was canned barely two years after suffering an assortment of injuries when targeted by a pair of teenage inmates inside the notorious facility. She even received three positive evaluations from her supervisors in the months after the painful June 20, 2016, assault.
“I was just (badge) number 6462,” she told the Daily News about her firing. “They did not care about Benita Sims. They didn’t care about the officer who had got hurt by an inmate and who had stitches.”
Sims was working as support staff in 2016 at the Robert N. Devoren Complex, where juvenile offenders were housed. She had just escorted three boys, each shackled and fitted with thick mitts because of behavioral issues, to a classroom. The problems began when a teen in the adjoining room started screaming at the kids under Sims’ watch.
At that point, one of the boys in the classroom with Sims went after her — “he’s pushing, trying to hit me, I put my arm up to try and block him,” she recalled. “On the other side of me there was a boy sitting down, and at the time it hadn’t appeared that he had done anything. But when they rolled the videotapes back he’s the reason why I fell. I had the boy over me this way, and he actually snatched the chair.”
Sims injured her thumb, shoulder and foot when she landed hard on the floor. Subsequent MRIs in July and September showed ligament tears in all three locations.