New York Court Preliminarily Approves Class Action Settlement Between the City and Over 300 Street Vendors
PUBLISHED ON: 04/08/2019
New York, NY, April 4, 2019 – International law firm Brown Rudnick LLP announces that it has been appointed as class counsel for over 300 New York City street food vendors that had their food vending property seized and allegedly destroyed by the City of New York without due process.
The original complaint, filed by co-class counsel at the Urban Justice Center, alleged that since at least 2014, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), New York City Police Department (NYPD), and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) implemented an unofficial practice of seizing and destroying the vending property of non-permitted mobile food vendors without providing the required property voucher for later retrieval.
Judge Sidney H. Stein of the Southern District of New York preliminarily approved the class action settlement between the City of New York and class members, finding the proposed settlement fair, reasonable, adequate and that it serves the best interests of the class members. Under the settlement, the City of New York has agreed to pay a total of $188,531.00 to over 300 class members and the named plaintiff for individual damages claims. Each class member that filed a claim will receive at least $585.00 and potentially up to $1,000.00 if settlement funds remain after one year. Also, named plaintiff Sanwar Ahmed, an 89-year old Bangladeshi immigrant who sells puffed rice in Jackson Heights, will receive $2,501.00 from the settlement fund for his damages and incentive award. Finally, the settlement provides for additional training for DOHMH new and current staff members on how to properly document and notice property seized from mobile food vendors.
“This settlement is the result of over a year of extensive class discovery and settlement negotiations with the City of New York,” said Daniel Day, an Associate in Brown Rudnick’s White Collar Defense & Government Investigations group in New York and pro bono counsel on the case. “It is reassuring to know that affected street vendors will be both fairly compensated for their losses and that City employees will be trained to follow proper procedures when handling street vendor property, regardless of whether the vending property is manufactured or homemade,” added Day. The street vendors were represented by partner Justin Weddle and associate Daniel Day at Brown Rudnick.
“We are proud to be able to provide vendors with some sense of justice in the form of compensation for their property, which was deemed to be of no value by New York City. The City must treat all vendors with respect and ensure that their enforcement practices are fair.” said Matthew Shapiro, Legal Director at the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center.
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