Following more than four years of litigation, the Firm obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of a client it represented on a pro bono basis. In 2016, at the request of the United States District Court, the Firm agreed to represent a former employee of the East Haven Police Department (the “Town”), who had filed an age discrimination lawsuit in connection with events culminating in the termination of her employment two years earlier. In late 2017, following discovery and extensive briefing, the District Court entered summary judgment in favor of the Town, finding that plaintiff’s voluntary retirement shortly before a scheduled disciplinary hearing in December 2014 precluded any claim that plaintiff had been constructively discharged, notwithstanding the questionable nature of the charge and statements made to the plaintiff by an Internal Affairs Officer regarding the likely outcome of the hearing. Green v East Haven Police Dep’t, 2017 WL 6498144 (D. Conn. Dec. 19, 2017). The Firm appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and, working with appellate counsel at Paul Weiss, obtained a reversal of the District Court’s decision in March 2020. In a lengthy decision, the Court of Appeals concluded that questions of fact existed as to whether plaintiff had been constructively discharged, and that based on the record, a factfinder applying the correct legal standard could rationally find that an employee in plaintiff’s position would have felt compelled to submit her resignation stating that she was retiring, rather than face nearly certain termination. Green v. Town of East Haven, 952 F.3d 394 (2020). The case was thereupon remanded to the District Court and, following a mediation before Magistrate Judge Robert Spector, the Firm obtained a settlement resulting in a six figure payment to its client. Jim Riley acted as lead counsel, and was assisted by Michael Battema.
August 31, 2020 – Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan LLC is excited to welcome the attorneys and staff from the Greenwich-based firm of Smith & Grant LLP to our growing team. Smith & Grant LLP was founded by attorneys George L. Smith and Elizabeth M. Grant and has provided a comprehensive array of trusts and estates services for over 15 years.
“We at Whitman Breed are very excited at the prospect of adding George and Libby, two of the pre-eminent estate planning lawyers in Fairfield County, to our team. Their arrival will add significant depth and experience to our existing trusts and estates practice and enhance our trust and estates/fiduciary litigation capabilities,” expressed Whitman Breed Co-Managing Partner, Charlie Pieterse.
Charles W. Pieterse and Wyatt R. Jansen presented “When Offshore Trust Disputes Wash Up Onshore” at the American Law Institute’s annual Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries conference. Together with their co-presenter, Richard LeVine of Withers Bergman LLP, Charlie and Wyatt discussed all aspects of domestic litigation concerning offshore trusts, including who uses offshore trusts, how offshore trust disputes end up in US courts, and the unique complications that arise in domestic litigation of offshore trust disputes. Their presentation materials are available here.
On June 10, 2019, Charles W. Pieterse moderated a panel discussion at the Connecticut Bar Association’s 2019 Connecticut Legal Conference entitled “Conservatorship Litigation – A discussion of Strategic, Legal and Ethical Issues.” Together with fellow panelists the Honorable David W. Hopper, Day Pitney LLP Partner Keith Bradoc “Brad” Gallant and Brody Wilkerson PC partner Heather J. Lange, the panel discussed issues practitioners are typically confronted with in these challenging matters, including (i) advising a client on the risks and benefits of commencing a conservatorship application, (ii) what ethical obligations a lawyer has under Rule 1.14 to take protective measures when the client is impaired, (iii) how one addresses the “least restrictive means of intervention standard” in a contested proceeding and (iv) the import of recent court decisions. Michael Battema prepared the presentation materials for the panel, a copy of which is available here.
Cyd Smith participated in the Greenwich Association of Realtors 2019 Attorney Panel at the Greenwich Water Club. Watch a clip from her portion of the panel here:
A team from the Firm composed of Tom O’Connor, Wyatt Jansen, John Hendele, Eva Kliegman, Giovanni D’Amico, and Michael Battema participated in the Center for Children’s Advocacy Play for Kids event on March 7th at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut. Play for Kids is a friendly athletic competition between teams of young professionals from throughout the NYC metro and Fairfield County area. Play for Kids raises funds for the Center for Children’s Advocacy, an organization providing legal services to Connecticut’s most vulnerable children. The Firm raised $1,200 for CCA by participating in the event.
The Firm is proud to announce that Luke Tashjian was recently elected as a Fellow by The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).
ACTEC is an organization of peer-elected lawyers and law professors who are skilled and experienced in the preparation of wills and trusts, estate planning, and probate procedure; and administration of trusts and estates of decedents, minors, and incompetents. To become an ACTEC Fellow an attorney must first be nominated by an existing Fellow, undergo a substantial application process, and then be voted on by the ACTEC Fellows in the states in which the Lawyer has practiced in the past ten years (i.e. Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts for Luke). After being approved by the Fellows in the states, the attorney is voted on by the ACTEC Board of Regents at a national level. Lawyers and law professors are elected to be Fellows based on their outstanding reputation, exceptional skill, and substantial contributions to the field by establishing a history of lecturing, writing, teaching, and participating in bar leadership and legislative activities. ACTEC is the premiere estate planners’ organization in the United States, comprised of leading trusts and estates lawyers in all 50 states.
The Firm successfully opposed an application for a variance to construct an apartment building on West Putnam Avenue. Jim Fulton took the lead in representing the opposition group against the project and request for the variance to accommodate it. The Greenwich Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals denied the application.
Luke Tashjian presented at the Westchester County Chapter of the New York Society of Independent Accountants regarding The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and Connecticut and New York’s Responses to the Act.
The Firm prevailed on its motion to strike two counts of a complaint in a trusts and estates dispute over nearly $20 million in transfers. Our motion raised the unsettled issue of whether and in what circumstances Connecticut courts should recognize a cause of action for tortious interference with an inheritance. A judge sitting on the Superior Court’s Complex Litigation Docket agreed with our arguments that, whether or not the tort is recognized, the plaintiffs had failed to plead the level of tortious conduct required to state such a claim. The court further agreed with us that the plaintiffs had no legitimate expectancy interest under the divorce agreement under which the plaintiffs’ claims allegedly arose, dooming both the tortious interference with an inheritance claim and a related claim for tortious interference with a contract. Charlie Pieterse and Wyatt Jansen handled the matter.
Luke Tashjian presented at the Connecticut Bar Association’s Annual Conference on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Luke Tashjian presented at the National Business Institute on the Income Taxation of Trusts and Structuring Marital Trusts.