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March 2013

Gordon & Rees New York City Team Wins Dismissal of High-Profile Civil Rights Suit Against SPCA

Gordon & Rees partner Mercedes Colwin and senior counsel Joseph Salvo of New York City won dismissal of a high-profile federal civil rights lawsuit that was featured on the front page of the New York Law Journal.

On Feb. 25, U.S. District Judge Arthur D. Spatt of the Eastern District of New York granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which sought damages against agents of the Suffolk County (NY) Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) stemming from an investigation and arrest and a declaration that the state statute granting the SPCA law enforcement authority is unconstitutional.

The plaintiff, Mona T. Kanciper, who was charged with animal cruelty by the SPCA, also sought a permanent injunction enjoining the animal protection agency from exercising law enforcement authority. 

The New York Law Journal article quoted Colwin: “The court agreed that Ms. Kanciper could not engage in impermissible claim splitting by suing the Suffolk County SPCA and its personnel in state court and then seek similar relief by filing a second lawsuit in federal court. This type of duplicative litigation serves no purpose other than to clog the courts.” Colwin said the defendants are pleased with the dismissal of the federal lawsuit and confident the state court case also will be dismissed.

For additional information, contact: Mercedes Colwin, Esq. mcolwin@gordonrees.com or Joseph Salvo, Esq. jsalvo@gordonrees.com, (212) 269-5500.

Mercedes Colwin
Joseph Salvo



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