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12/12/14 1:44pm
12/12/2014 1:44 PM
 Joe Johnson (top) leaves court in 2012 with a lawyer. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

Joe Johnson (top) leaves court in 2012 with a lawyer. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

A former Phillips Avenue teacher fired this year after pleading guilty to a drunken driving charge has filed a federal lawsuit against the Riverhead School District, its superintendent, school board and several administrators.

He claims he was fired because he is black. (more…)

04/28/14 6:32pm
04/28/2014 6:32 PM


A female Southampton Town police sergeant has filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against the town, its police department and the current police chief, alleging “egregious and relentless” discrimination, including a “hostile” workplace and retaliation against her for reporting the department to U.S. and state civil rights authorities, court papers show.  (more…)

05/13/13 2:00pm

The family of a former Riverhead Middle School student is alleging district officials illegally searched their son in 2007, and is seeking $2 million in damages in a civil rights lawsuit set to go to jury trial in federal court this week, according to court documents.

The suit, filed by the former student’s mother, Marilyn Love, alleges the school violated the student’s fourth and fourteenth amendment rights by subjecting him to an unreasonable search “based on his race as an African American.”

In February 2007, Ms. Love’s son — who is a plaintiff but is not identified in the complaint due to his age at the time of the incident — was pulled out of his eighth grade class by a district security guard, according to the suit. He was brought to the principal’s office, where he was accused of selling drugs in school because he was seen giving money to two students that morning, the suit states.

The student denied the claims and was searched. School officials did not find any drugs, and warned him not to sell any on district grounds, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Love and her son claim the district didn’t have “reasonable grounds” to search him, and did not search the other student who was seen talking to Ms. Love’s son, according to the suit. That student who was not searched is white.

The Riverhead School District, Board of Education, district superintendent at the time Paul Doyle, and Middle School principal Andrea Pekar, are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Several others, including Angela Devito, a former school board member, appear on a list of potential witnesses in the trial.

District officials could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Love also alleges in the suit that the school did not tell her that her son had been removed from class to be searched and did not properly train employees to search students.

Jury selection in the case began at Eastern District Court in Central Islip Monday and opening statements are expected Tuesday.

The student is now 20 years old, said Harriet Gilliam, the attorney for Ms. Love and her son.

As a result of the search, the student “suffered emotional harm, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, damage to his good name and reputation and loss of enjoyment of life,” according to court documents.

“I would say, certainly, it’s had a long-term effect on him as far as his outlook through school and of school administrators,” Ms. Gilliam said. “Instead of him seeing them as people who are there to help and have them provide a nurturing environment, he instead had an experience of seeing them in a different light [by accusing him and searching him]. He’s jaded. He came away having a bad taste in his mouth.”

Ms. Gilliam said there were discussions with the district and other co-defendants to settle out of court but “there was nothing really of substance in terms of any offer.”

The case has taken so long to get to trial because of various motions made by the district’s lawyers to have the case dismissed, Ms. Gilliam added.

[email protected]

02/06/13 6:35pm
02/06/2013 6:35 PM

Eagle Auto Mall on Route 58 is appealing a federal judge’s ruling rejecting claims it made in a lawsuit against Chrysler, where Eagle and two upstate dealerships argued that the deals Chrysler was offering them were not the customary ones offered to other dealers seeking Chrysler franchises.

Eagle Auto Mall was one of 789 car dealers nationwide that lost their Chrysler franchises in 2009 after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection.

But since Chrysler had received federal bailout money, Congress set up an arbitration system by which Chrysler dealers who lost their dealerships could apply to get their franchises back.

Eagle Auto Mall was one of only about 15 dealerships nationwide to have their franchises awarded back. But Eagle owner Mark Calisi balked at the conditions Chrysler put on his ownership of the franchise, including requirements that he build a new facility for the exclusive display of Chrysler and Jeep vehicles. Eagle Auto Mall also sells Kia, Mazda and Volvos, in addition to Chryslers and Jeeps.

The company argued in court that the conditions Chrysler was imposing on them were not “customary and usual” conditions that Chrysler imposed on all of its franchisees.  But Chrysler disputed that argument in court, and U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler on Jan. 24 agreed with them, and dismissed Eagle Auto Mall’s case.

The judge looked at the letters of intent sent to 135 Chrysler dealerships and found that the requirement for a new site was in 97 percent of the them, and that the two other contested requirements were in 90 percent and 83 percent of the letters, respectively.

Eagle Auto Mall appealed the ruling last week.

[email protected]

Eagle Auto Mall, Mark Calisi

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Mark Calisi at his Eagle Auto Mall in 2009.