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NYCMarineVet

Veterans Class Action Lawsuit City vs State Law

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I am a Veteran Street Food Vendor and I started my own business.  I am also a member of a 501c3 organization dedicated to Veteran Entrepreneurs.  I want to initiate a class action lawsuit against NYC for damages to my business because they took liberty with state law that protected us.  Rossi is at the appellate again trying to get 35a out of food again as we speak.  The City has not freely issued citywide food permits since the 80s.  The statute 35a is vague so the city is taking advantage of that to take jurisdiction(our location tickets are being routed to ECB judges) and harass the Veteran Vendors of the City.

 

My business is not doing so well right now because the City of New York is taking liberties with a State Law that outlines the issuance of licenses to vend.  The City Law is Rules of the City of New York (RCNY) title 24 chapter 6-13.  The state law is New York State General Business Law article 4.  The pertinent cases involved are attached along with some sessions.  If I could get sessions for the original section 35a(1991) that would be great.  Really what I would like is the entire legislative history to 1896 (chap 371), but I digress.  The action involves around 1500 Veterans in NYC approximately(those that would have interest in a license to vend food).  The damage is limiting us to around parks and requiring us to be around our carts 100% of the time they are vending (I want my cart employed 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean I want to be there that much).  I understand we should be there when our special privilege(locations outside citywide permit access) is being used, but not 100% of the time.

 

If there is a lawyer out there that wants to take this case the award would go 10% to them 10% to my 501c3(if thats legal) and 80% to the damaged parties.

 

R/S

NYMarineVET

Matter of Rossi v New York City Dept.pdf

chap371.bmp

Food vending presentation.pdf

General Business Law Article 4 section 32.doc

General Business Law Article 4 section 35.doc

General Business Law Article 4 section 35a.doc

KASWAN v APONTE.pdf

sessions 1995 35a(2).pdf

sessions 35a 2004.pdf

sessions 1995 35a.pdf

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two points, this is not the way to look for an attorney. Very few attorneys post here and no class action attorneys that I am aware of. You can try find a lawyer on this site, or there are many veteran's organizations that could recommend an attorney. 2nd, class actions suits are very expensive to bring and I doubt any reputable firm would take it for less that 1/3 plus the thousands of dollars of expenses involved. Good luck

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Ok.. well any advice is helpful.  I've done so many of those 'intake chats' and 'lead forms' that my fingers bled... What is the best way to look for an attorney??  As far as the 'award' goes I figured 10% was good enough since the billable hours would of course be covered in the suit award as well.  Either way I'd want to bring the suit.

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No attorney is going to take a case on contingency for 10%. That goes double for a class action suit due to the number of hours involved. There is a find a lawyer feature at the top of the page.

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I'll keep looking for an attorney.... what does anyone think of the merits of the case?? maybe I'll have to rethink that 10% to 33%.  It'll be in the millions over the entire class.

 

I would only ever want to bring a case like this on contingency because otherwise it is the lawyer saying he/she isn't confident they can do it.

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If you don't what to try veterans organizations, you could go down to the federal court house and ask the clerk to look a some class action cases, and check out the attorneys who handled those. As I said before, class actions are expensive to bring, tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars may be advanced by the attorneys before they see a dime, and if they lose, they get nothing. So after paying the expenses, the attorneys will want 1/3 to 40% for their fees, not 10%. the brief recitation of your facts, without doing any research, sounds like a potential class action.

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I never thought to go to the courthouse.  Good call.  It gives me hope that you think it has potential.  As far as the award goes I do get that... big risk=big reward.  I am thinking in all my correspondence on this case with individual firms I could find a better way to frame the situation.  I put this here not just to look for an attorney(obviously it was a hope that I'd find one here), but also to suss out the essence of the case when I present it to others.   

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2 hours ago, NYCMarineVet said:

If there is a lawyer out there that wants to take this case the award would go 10% to them 10% to my 501c3(if thats legal) and 80% to the damaged parties.

 

LOL!  There is no lawyer in the U.S. who would take a class action and agree to accept only 10% of any recovery.  Generally, fees awarded to class counsel are determined by the court or an agreed settlement and paid by the defendant.  As best as I can understand your post, your goal is to compel some agency of the City of New York to interpret a particular statute and city ordinance in a certain way.  Why you would want to pursue this as a class action is beyond me, and the chances of any substantial monetary recovery (even if you prevail) is beyond unlikely.

 

 

 

39 minutes ago, NYCMarineVet said:

what does anyone think of the merits of the case?

 

I haven't the slightest idea (and neither will anyone here).  I looked at GBL 35-a.  It contains over 3,200 words.  You also referenced the rest of the chapter in which 35-a appears and an entire chapter of city ordinances (to say nothing of the 10 documents you apparently linked in your post).  And you haven't clearly described what the City is doing that you find objectionable.

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Is there a way to edit out that 10% bit?? I find that it is detracting from the message I'm trying to convey.  I believe its obvious that I've never pursued anything like this in court before.  My desire to do it stems from the city's inability to interact with those folks that it governs.  When I ask city agencies about why their rules are structured like they are in defiance to state statute they just don't respond.  When this repeatedly goes to court we win the small cases usually (even if on appeal), but the overriding issue seems to remain ignored:  The city is playing fast and lose with a state statute that is intended to help veterans who wish to do food vending, not harm their businesses. 

 

Maybe it would help you to know that regular non veteran food vendors can go to places where Veterans are prohibited from.  Veterans are routinely given summons for doing this.  We do beat it in court when it happens, but why should we have to??

 

I hope this clears things up.

 

Your saying that nobody here will understand what I'm after is quite presumptuous.

 

 

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It is not clear exactly what the problem is.  Are you alleging that there are provisions in the city's ordinances that specifically prohibit veterans from providing food services at times, places and in ways that are allowed to non-veterans?  Or, are you alleging that food service inspectors are enforcing the city's ordinance more strictly against veterans than against non-veterans.

 

 BTW, I would not worry about the 10% since no one is going to take a case challenging an ordinance on a contingency basis.

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13 hours ago, NYCMarineVet said:

I believe its obvious that I've never pursued anything like this in court before.  My desire to do it stems from the city's inability to interact with those folks that it governs.

 

I'm not really sure what this means (i.e., what "anything like this in court" refers to).  I find it odd that you would simply latch onto the concept of a class action without (apparently) knowing anything about what that means.

 

 

13 hours ago, NYCMarineVet said:

When I ask city agencies about why their rules are structured like they are in defiance to state statute they just don't respond.

 

Well...first of all, it's entirely likely that the folks you're asking have no involvement in the process by which city laws are written or enacted and, therefore, have no idea how to answer your questions.  Second, as you have phrased this sentence, it is premised on the notion that some sort of conflict exists between a city law and a state law, and it's possible that not everyone would agree with that.  In any event, to premise an inquiry in that way is a bit argumentative and may be off putting.

 

 

13 hours ago, NYCMarineVet said:

Maybe it would help you to know that regular non veteran food vendors can go to places where Veterans are prohibited from.  Veterans are routinely given summons for doing this.  We do beat it in court when it happens, but why should we have to??

 

I hope this clears things up.

 

Not really, because you still haven't clearly articulated the issue, and I have a hard time believing that anyone who enforces these rules could distinguish between a veteran and a non-veteran.  In any event, you need an attorney to review this for you.  If you're having difficulty finding one to take a case, maybe that's an indication that your problem is different than you perceive.

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I think I'm approaching this wrong. 

 

The city ordinance states:

Bookmark§ 6-13 Disabled veteransmobile food unit vending permits.
Disabled veterans who hold currently valid (i) specialized vendor licenses issued pursuant to General Business Law § 35-a, (ii) general vendor licenses issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs and (iii) mobile food vending licenses issued by the Commissioner, may apply for and be issued permits to operate mobile food vending units on sidewalks surrounding parks within the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, or successor City agency, in accordance with the following conditions:
   (a)   An applicant for such a restricted area permit may not hold any other currently valid mobile food vending unit permit, and only one such permit may be issued to any applicant.
   (b)   In accordance with General Business Law § 35-a, such permit authorizes vending only on sidewalks surrounding park lands.
   (c)   Operation of the mobile vending unit is subject to all provisions of General Business Law § 35-a.
   (d)   During all times that a mobile food vending unit issued a permit under this section is in operation, as the term "operation" is defined in Health Code § 89.03 (j) or successor provision, a disabled veteran shall be present, but may be assisted by an employee who is a licensed mobile food vendor. Department inspection reports which note the absence of a disabled veteran licensee are deemed proof that a disabled veteran is not operating the unit, in violation of General Business Law § 35-a.
 
The City ordinances also state that General Vending is NOT authorized around parks.
 

The state law states(excerpt of 35a):

 

2. In areas where general vending is authorized, outside of the area specified in subdivision seven of this section, all specialized vending license holders, including those vendors authorized to vend in the  area specified in subdivision seven of this section, shall be subject to those restrictions on the placement of vehicles, pushcarts and  stands contained in any local law, ordinance, by-law, rule or regulation of a city having a population of one million or more, to the extent that such restrictions are not inconsistent with the provisions  contained in subdivisions four, five, six and eight of this section.

 

and

 

11. Where the city of New York  authorizes  general  vending,  through  permit, auction, lottery or any other method subsequent to the effective  date  of  this  subdivision other than temporary general vendor licenses  issued in connection with street fairs on  any  block  face,  street  or  avenue  specified  in  paragraph (a) of subdivision seven or subdivision  seven-a of this section,  the  prohibitions  and  restrictions  in  this  section  on  vending by specialized vending licensees shall not apply on  such block face, street or avenue and the number of specialized vending licensees authorized per block  face,  street or avenue shall, at a  minimum, be equal to the greatest number of any  single  type  of  other  vendor including but not limited to food, general, or vendors of written matter and  others similarly  situated  on  such block face, street or avenue.

 

The sessions notes/memorandums state:


 
* Allow specialized vending licensees to vend in areas where they are prohibited or restricted in the event that NYC lifts restrictions on general vendors as to time, place or number of vendors;

 

and

 


 
This legislation would provide the City of New York limited authority to regulate vending in order to facilitate public safety in specific congested areas of the City.

 

 

It is my contention that the City of New York is not exercising 'limited' authority when they're telling us to be around parks and in saying we have to be around parks they're being arbitrary and capricious.  It is well known in the Vending community that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene does everything it can to repress Veteran Vendors. Subsection 2 of 35a was not meant to severely restrict us around parks.  Before 2015 New York City didn't even issue permits to Veterans.  Maybe this will clear things up.

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