Department of Justice Intervenes in Class Action against New York City to Ensure Safety and Constitutional Rights of Rikers Island Inmates

In The News
December 18, 2014
William I. Sussman

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a motion seeking the permission of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to join and become a plaintiff in a pending class action lawsuit against New York City, Nunez v. City of New York. The intervention was announced Dec. 18 by Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, Vanita Gupta, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights for the Department of Justice, and Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Ropes & Gray is counsel to the certified class of plaintiffs in Nunez, together with co-counsel The Legal Aid Society Prisoners’ Rights Project and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. Ropes & Gray is representing the class on a pro bono basis.

On Dec. 18, the Department of Justice filed a proposed Complaint-in-Intervention along with a motion to intervene in the Nunez action, alleging that the City of New York has been and is engaging in a pattern and practice of violating the constitutional rights of young inmates, and that the City’s deliberate indifference to those constitutional rights has caused those inmates serious physical, psychological and emotional harm.

“We welcome the U.S. Attorney's intervention in the Nunez  class action litigation. We and our co-counsel look forward to working with the Department of Justice to obtain appropriate relief for our clients and ensure that their constitutional rights are protected,” said Bill Sussman, a Ropes & Gray partner who co-leads the firm’s team representing the Nunez class.

DOJ press release: Department of Justice Takes Legal Action to Address Pattern and Practice of Excessive Force and Violence at Rikers Island Jails that Violates the Constitutional Rights of Young Male Inmates


William I. Sussman
William I. Sussman
Retired Partner