“There are really only two ways to completely win a federal civil rights case,” writes Goldberg Segalla partner Patrick B. Naylon. “One is through summary judgment where a judge determines, based upon the law and undisputed facts, that the case does not warrant a trial and hence the case is dismissed upon application for the defense on written papers. If that application is denied, the only other path to a complete ‘win’ is via trial.”
In an article for the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) Law Enforcement Newsletter, Pat focuses on federal civil rights cases involving law enforcement or other municipal defendants, and explains the “unique hazards” and advantages for plaintiffs when proceeding to trial in a federal civil rights case, which include the opportunity for plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees that could dwarf the size of an award. Pat then explains the advantages of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), offers of judgment, and other variables.
“Sometimes, when summary judgment eludes the defense, victory can be obtained via settlement at ADR, which cannot be used against that officer in a later suit,” Pat explains. “When settlement cannot be had at ADR, an offer of judgement by the municipality can reduce exposure and transfer some of the risk from the officers back to the plaintiff. Indeed, there is more than one path to victory.”
Pat, the senior administrative partner in the firm’s Rochester office and a leader in Goldberg Segalla’s Municipal and Government Law practice, draws on his experienced as a former police officer to defend law enforcement officers, municipalities, and public entities in a variety of civil litigation, including federal civil rights claims. While a seasoned litigator, Pat understands the inherent value of early resolution and has pursued this when it is the most efficient and strategic way to meet his clients’ short-term needs and long-term goals. He has resolved hundreds of his own cases via all avenues of ADR and was among a small and select group of attorneys invited by the Western District of New York federal judiciary to become a Certified Federal Court Mediator.
Goldberg Segalla offers comprehensive counsel to a wide range of municipal entities, defending them in state and federal courts. The firm also offers all types of alternative dispute resolution. Whether clients need day-to-day advice on issues affecting municipalities, or representation in litigation or investigations, the Municipal and Government Law team has the depth and experience to help.