The Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C.

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The Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C.

We handle all sorts of civil litigation cases, such as those that involve fraud, deceptive trade practices, breaches of contract, and Ponzi schemes. We’ve represented ATM businesses, people suing their interior decorators for breaches of contract, and recruiters who weren’t paid by the businesses they filled positions for.

We’ve handled many litigation cases involving promissory notes—both defending claims of enforcement and bringing actions on behalf of people to enforce them. Some of these cases arise in the area of foreclosure, where a property has been sold outside of New York State and the bank does not receive all of the money it claims it is owed. We have been very successful in defending homeowners in cases in New York State brought by banks that want to collect on promissory notes.

We also represent homeowners in foreclosure surplus actions. For example, if a property sells at a foreclosure auction for more than what the bank is owned, the extra money should be returned to the homeowner. However, if the homeowner does not bring an action or make a motion to get that money, then their surplus money will eventually go to New York State.

Fortunately, most bars have insurance against dram shop laws which hold businesses liable for accidents that involve anyone who was allegedly served alcohol while visibly intoxicated, even if the accident occurred miles away from the bar. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, give us a call.

As another example, I once represented a topless bar that was sued in federal court because it was alleged that the bar used images of famous people on Instagram. Various claims were brought alleging an infringement of the intellectual property of the photographs, as well as under a New York law protecting against the commercial use of a person’s image without their consent. To think that anyone would possibly be confused about a worldwide celebrity appearing in a topless bar in Staten Island is absurd, yet these lawsuits occur all over the country against topless bars and gentlemen’s clubs.

We have represented many clients in social media defamation actions, both from the plaintiff’s side and the defendant’s side. For example, if someone knowingly publishes a false statement or a statement in reckless disregard of the truth and it harms the reputation of a person, then that person may have a valid defamation claim.

We’ve handled legal malpractice claims representing both plaintiffs and defendant attorneys. Many attorneys do not have malpractice insurance, so they hire us in order to defend them against malpractice claims.

We’ve represented contractors who have not been able to collect from building owners. We have also represented building owners who’ve sued contractors for shoddy or incomplete work, or taking people’s money and then not doing the work in accordance with the contract.

In addition, we’ve defended many trademark counterfeiting claims, either pre-suit or in federal court where our client is accused of purchasing counterfeit goods and reselling them. Many times, they’re purchasing the counterfeit goods overseas and reselling them in the United States, and the brands have software and investigators that search certain websites like eBay or Amazon for fraudulent counterfeit goods. The brands will have an investigator make a purchase and examine what’s being sold in order to determine whether it is counterfeit. They will usually send a warning letter trying to resolve the case, and if that fails, they will bring an action (usually in federal court). We’ve also represented brands that work with investigators to buy goods online and examine them to determine if they are counterfeit products.

Lastly, we’ve represented individuals who have been sued in a strike suit. In one instance, the owner of copyrighted pornographic movies sued people for downloading and sharing the movies on BitTorrent in violation of the copyrights. Those cases, although they seem relatively insignificant, can have enormous statutory damage amounts for the individual or entity that owns the copyright. We’ve also represented people for copyright infringement. For example, a local bar showed a copyrighted televised UFC event. Rather than paying the commercial amount in order to show it legally, they paid the residential amount and bootlegged the account into the bar, or in some instances didn’t pay at all and streamed from an overseas website. Oftentimes, these people will be contacted by an attorney on behalf of the UFC (or whichever entity owns the copyright) seeking a significant amount of money or threatening to sue in federal court. We’ve represented many small businesses (mostly bars and restaurants) in these types of cases. To identify instances of this type of copyright infringement, investigators will look for ads online. For example, if a bar is posting ads online about a UFC or boxing match showing, then an investigator will be sent to the bar to determine whether the entity has a commercial account. If they do not have a commercial account, then a letter will be sent and/or a lawsuit will be filed against the bar.

Most people don’t realize that there are a couple of entities (e.g. BMI) that hold copyrights for many songs. Investigators will go into a bar that has live music and if a band plays a cover of an old song for which they have the copyright, then they will sue. This could happen across almost any genre of music—live or recorded—that’s played in a bar. If the bar doesn’t pay the amount necessary to legally play the music (it is usually under $1,000 per year) and a band plays the music at the bar, then both the band and the bar can be sued for violation of a federal statute, which is accompanied by large statutory penalties. These are just some examples of what we see as the shakedown of small businesses.

Do You Handle Business Interruption Claims?

Another area of business litigation that it important to highlight amid the pandemic is business interruption insurance. Hundreds if not thousands of local businesses have paid insurance companies for business interruption insurance for years and years, yet those insurance companies are denying virtually all claims for business interruption due to COVID-19. It may be that the language of the insurance policy contains an exclusion for viruses or requires physical damage to the property for business interruption insurance coverage to kick in. However, we are looking at many cases to bring as a part of a class action suit or federal multi-district litigation, or on an individual basis. I believe that there are ways around these exclusions. For instance, if the exclusion says that the business interruption coverage doesn’t cover closures due to a virus, then it could be argued that the closure was not due to a virus, but due to a governmental order. If you think you may have a business interruption claim, I’d be happy to offer you a free consultation.

Do You Think You’re Going To See A Lot Of Frivolous Summons And Lawsuits When It Comes To The COVID-19 Situation?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is going to be a big shortage in the budget in New York City, so they’re going to try to compensate for it by making small businesses pay summonses. I’ve represented countless businesses that were summonses. For example, I represented a bar that was summonses for not having a buildings department permit for a tent in the backyard that was attached to the building. I’ve also represented small businesses for making too much noise, overcrowding, and not having the proper signs on the wall. I have defended businesses that have received summonses for all sorts of things, such as a health department summons given to a bartender putting a bottle of vodka in the ice that they use for drinks. I have defended summonses for bathrooms that are in an improper condition and for customers dancing in a bar that did not have a cabaret license.

One case involved two women who were asked to leave a bar after getting into a verbal argument. On the street, the two women got into a physical altercation, yet the police wrote a summons to the bar for disorderly premises—despite the fact that the bar employees did everything possible to prevent a fight between the two women.

Small business owners—especially those in New York City—need to be aware of the fact that that they are a target for all kinds of summonses and lawsuits. We are very experienced at defending small business owners against these types of lawsuits.

In light of everything that’s happening in New York City, I do not think that the police are necessarily writing a lot of summonses. However, other entities like the buildings department or health department will be looking to write summonses. A lot of people are in need of money right now, so everyone is looking for a reason to sue someone. There has been an explosion of litigation since COVID-19 hit.

For more information on Civil Litigation, a free consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (212) 766-9779 today.

Robert Brown

Call For A Free Consultation
(212) 766-9779