Levin-Epstein P.C. Newsletter Third Quarter 2020

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During these unprecedented, challenging times with the Coronavirus pandemic affecting our personal and business lives, we want to convey our prayers and good wishes for your health and well-being.

These days, we are frequently asked for our thoughts on the state of the New York economy because our representation of Manhattan-based businesses gives us an insider’s view of the local economy. The statistics on the filing of new lawsuits since the pandemic provides an interesting inflection point to explain what is happening in New York.

When the pandemic roiled New York in March, the State Supreme Court, in an unprecedented move, suspended the filing of all new cases, and the federal courts had a precipitous decline in the filing of new cases. The numbers are quite stark. By way of example, the amount of Fair Labor Standards Act cases filed in the Eastern District of New York, in April and May 2020, were almost at half of the number of cases filed in same months in 2019. As New York has begun the process of reopening, the statistics on the filing of new lawsuits in federal and state court have begun to normalize. The numbers do not tell the whole story, however. Many of the new cases that have been filed over the summer appear to have been shelved during the pandemic. The slowdown in the filing of new lawsuits is an indication that it is not business as usual. Far from it.

Our clients in the construction, hospitality, and retail sectors, are facing serious financial challenges because financial relief under the Paycheck Protection Program has run out and all businesses are hoarding cash. The nature of our law firm’s recent work bears out the difficulties of the local economy. We have clients with very strong claims that are now opting for contingency fee arrangements where pre-pandemic the clients would have selected an hourly-fee basis. Our corporate transactional practice has completely shifted from advising on new leases to breaking leases, bankruptcy planning, and other types of corporate triage. There are signs of improvement, however.

The State has permitted construction work to re-start; restaurants are re-opening; the state courts have reopened. We have seen landlords start to make interim accommodations to tenants. Given the challenges over the last few months, we are especially pleased to share with you some highlights for Levin-Epstein & Associates, P.C. in the third quarter of 2020.

The firm’s litigation achievements include:

  • Commercial Contingency. The firm obtained a favorable settlement of claims in the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court of New York in a breach of contract case.
  • Employee-Side Fair Labor Standards Act Cases. The firm favorably settled several FLSA actions on the employee-side in the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York.
  • Contingency Start-Up Company Founder Dispute. The firm favorably settled claims on behalf of a founder of a start-up company.
  • Management-Side Fair Labor Standards Act Case. The firm favorably settled several FLSA actions on the employer-side.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Case. The firm obtained a full dismissal, with prejudice, of all claims brought against our hotel operator client that its website violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Settlement for Sub-Contractor Construction Firm. The firm obtained a favorable settlement for a construction company arising out non-payment on well-known New York City project.

The firm’s corporate achievements include:

  • Severance and Termination Negotiations. The firm assisted several executive clients with negotiating severance agreements and exit packages.
  • Commercial Lease Terminations. The firm assisted clients with invoking early termination rights under commercial leases.
  • PPP and Cares Act Legislation. The firm assisted clients with navigating the Congress’ legislative regulatory and stimulus efforts.
  • Pro Bono Work. The firm assisted several pro bono clients with reviewing lease provision, bankruptcy considerations, and PPP and Cares Act legislation.

We hope that you continue to refer clients to us and continue to be part of our success. You know us, you know our experience, and you know the quality of our work. We would be most grateful to be retained in these areas, among others:  

  • litigation before trial or appellate courts or administrative bodies, especially matters involving real estate, partnership disputes, and creditors' rights;
  • litigation avoidance - the crucial effort to negotiate agreements to resolve disputes before they cross the threshold of the courthouse;
  • domestic and international arbitration and mediations;
  • bankruptcy litigation and creditors' rights work, including avoidance actions, preference actions, discharge and dischargeability actions;
  • employment litigation in all aspects of employment law, including issues involving restrictive covenants and trade secrets, wage-and-hour issues, Fair Labor Standards Act issues, and breach of contract issues;
  • business divorce litigation, including contested stock valuations, derivative actions and other disputes between owners of closely held business corporations; and
  • counseling and strategic planning that defy easy categorization, requiring a deep understanding of the pertinent legal issues and of the business (and sometimes personal) considerations that must be taken into account to reach a favorable outcome.
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