Pro Bono Triumph Against Racial Discrimination in Fair Housing Lawsuit

Cooley, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and others achieve major settlement for victims in Mastic Beach, New York

New York – August 28, 2017 – Cooley partnered with The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Long Island Housing Services in a successful settlement with the Village of Mastic Beach, New York, and Timothy Brojer, the former village administrator of Mastic Beach. The lawsuit alleged discrimination in housing and constitutional violations based on race and ethnic background.

Village of Mastic Beach Code Enforcement Officials had evicted several African-American tenants who received housing subsidies, citing minor housing code violations, without providing lawful notice or an opportunity to be heard prior to the eviction. Under the terms of the settlement, Mastic Beach will pay $387,500 to the plaintiffs, who include six tenants and two landlords.

“It is critical to champion the needs of those less fortunate and unfairly targeted so as to protect their inalienable rights and ensure access to justice,” said Cooley litigation partner Joe Drayton, lead counsel and member of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Board of Trustees. “This settlement has helped to heal the wounds experienced by our clients as a result of the Village’s unlawful acts.”

The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.

Partner Joe Drayton led the Cooley pro bono team, which also included Jennifer Lerner and Kara Wilson. Drayton is a prominent pro bono advocate and diversity champion. This month, the National Bar Association elected Drayton as its 76th president. The NBA is the oldest and largest US network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges.

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Joseph Drayton Partner, New York
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