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Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons
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109 Comments by CoweeDewey

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Attorney Asks For $70 Million Judgment Against Southampton Town

The American Rule is not part of tort law. Again, it's not tort law, its the unscrupulous PI attorneys who abuse the system that are the problem. Tort law has a vital purpose - are you proposing that we'd be better off without it?

Regarding the American Rule, as I'm sure you know, it's got its purpose as well - namely, encouraging people to enforce their rights in court without fear of having to pay the other side's fees. Both rules (English v American) have their advantages/ disadvantages. Bottom line is that our courts have decided that it's better policy to allow people to seek judicial relief w/o fear of having to pay the other's fees if they lose (for whatever reason - whether on the merits or otherwise), and risk some degree of abuse.

And as I'm sure you also know, under state and federal law, a claim lacking any basis in law or fact subjects the attorney and/or client to sanctions, including paying the other's attorney fees and costs. So again, while there are those who abuse it, the American Rule is not as bad as you portray.

You need to hate the player, not the game." Feb 21, 11 3:14 PM

If I'm understanding you correctly, you're against unscrupulous PI attorneys who bring baseless suits hoping to force the other side into settlement because they'll incur astronomical fees fighting the suit. If so, I'm on board.

What I'm not on board with is arguing that our society would be better off without tort law. It's a ridiculous proposition. Apparently you believe that everyone will just 'do the right thing' if there's no threat that they'll have to pay for their wrongdoing?

I disagree with you on the fees rules - I think it's better to give someone their day in court without threat of having to pay the other side's massive legal bill. Those with limited means will never go to court, no matter how strong their claim, if faced with the threat of the other side piling up massive fees (little guy vs big co). Even if they think their claim is strong, the potentially devastating cost if they lose (again, whether on the merits or otherwise) will prevent them from going to court. If our legal system worked perfectly, and meritorious claims always won, then I'd favor the English Rule. But until that day comes (it is not coming) I disagree with you.

My posts here were to challenge what I thought was your argument that we'd be better off without tort law. I'm not interested in discussing the people who abuse it - I know they're out there, and they always will be. Tort law nevertheless serves a vital purpose in our society, and what I'm wondering is whether you'd prefer that we do away with it altogether." Feb 23, 11 3:38 PM

The Press News Group To Offer Premium Membership Subscriptions

Curious about the 2 comment/day limit for those w/o the premium subscription. Why the limit for non-subscribers? " Feb 28, 11 3:31 PM

FEMA Declaration Issued For December Snowstorm

What next, Cap'n? Bitching about your roads being paved? Snow being plowed off your street? Police patroling your 'hood? Clean water coming from your tap? All taxpayer funded - sorry, Obama dollar-funded.

Would it be better for you if McCain had won, and they were McCain dollars? Palin dollars? Beck dollars? Then would you own up to the fact that you, along with everyone else in this country, enjoys the benefits of taxpayer-funded public services? You need to get some sleep." Feb 28, 11 3:45 PM

Request For $70 Million Default Judgment Against Town Dismissed

Somewhere Sordi is breathing a huge sigh of relief.

But on the eruv - why is the Town scrambling to retain outside counsel? Weren't these suits filed awhile ago? Is this deja vu all over again?" Mar 2, 11 1:46 PM

Weil did the Tenafly case. I briefly looked at the 3d Circuit's opinion. My takeaway is, if the towns have not been diligent in removing other signs or objects from the poles, they'll lose this case and will have to pay Weil's fees, which should easily exceed $1m.

One can only hope that whoever they bring in to handle the litigation gives the towns a straightforward assessment of the likelihood of success and potential downside if they lose. If they don't, this has the potential of becoming an unmitigated financial disaster." Mar 3, 11 11:40 AM

Failing to respond to any lawsuit, let alone a $70 million lawsuit, is a serious matter. In this case, the town was properly served, and had received more than one extension of time to respond. Under these circumstances, while unlike a default would be granted, it was certainly possible - I think the Board had every right to be outraged.
Having said that, I think their reaction to his severance package was ridiculous grandstanding - they town got off cheap on that one. " Mar 3, 11 4:44 PM

Long Island Farmers Express Concerns To Tim Bishop

Great idea - and then, after farmers and restaurants are forced to pay astronomical wages to get others to pick their crops and wash their dishes (i.e., the work that no one else wants to do), you can enjoy a $30 side salad the next time you dine out.

If you're really concerned about free rides, how about getting the GOP to stop asking for corporate tax cuts and instead get them to eliminate corporate tax loopholes (see: GE's 2010 $14 billion profit, $0 US taxes paid, $3.5 billion tax benefit realized). AARGHHH!!!!!!" Mar 29, 11 3:08 PM

But the Dems don't fight to lower corporate taxes, or to block financial reform - Republicans do.

As for Obama tapping the GE CEO, I find it ridiculous. But I'm sure he'll do a heckuva job." Mar 30, 11 10:15 AM

Tea Party Holds Third Annual Tax Day Protest In East Hampton

Editor - these are the same photos you ran in connection with last year's rally, correct? I believe I recognize the same medicare/social security-receiving old folks standing next to the same taxpayer-funded road. The same ones who enjoy living out their twilight years in neighborhoods protected by our police and fire departments (taxpayer-funded, of course). And it's good to see they're staying well hydrated thanks to our municipal water supply.

But seriously, these are the same photos from last year." Apr 27, 11 9:55 AM

Former Supervisor Linda Kabot Files Suit Against Westhampton Beach

Here's my understanding: As I'm sure you've heard, driving is a privilege, not a right. As part of that privilege, you are required to take a breathalyzer test if you are suspected of driving drunk. If you refuse, you lose the privilege of driving by having your license suspended for a period of time (differs by state).

But blowing over the legal limit, or refusing to take the test, is only one piece of evidence in a DUI trial. Additionally, the "legal limit" blood alcohol level (I think it's 0.08% in NY) is set by the Legislature, and is supposed to represent the amount of alcohol that would render an 'average person' impaired. But blowing over the limit does not automatically = a DUI conviction. For example, a fat guy who drinks a lot may have a BAC of .10% but not be impaired, whereas a thin woman who rarely drinks may have a BAC of only .05% and still be drunk. So again, blowing over the limit, or refusing the test, is merely one piece of evidence of intoxication.

Also, you're not automatically given the breathalyzer test - the cop must first make a determination (based on sobriety tests, such as touching your nose, saying the alphabet while standing on one foot, etc - what you saw in the Kabot video) that you may be intoxicated, then can ask you to take the test.

Other evidence of intoxication in court typically includes the cop's observations (which always seem to include glassy eyes, slurred speech, odor of alcohol on the breach), or video from the patrol car camera, or other eyewitness accounts of the defendant's appearance and conduct. Defenses can include involuntary intoxication (someone slipped you a mickey), prescription medication, or even suffering from seizures or another medical condition that might cause one to appear to be intoxicated.

The question in court is always a question of fact, meaning that the fact-finder (either a jury or, if no jury, the judge) must weigh all the evidence and determine whether the defendant was legally impaired.

Also, nearly everyone who knows anything about DUI law will tell you - DO NOT TAKE THE BREATHALYZER if you've even had a single drink within the past couple of hours - the breathalyzer machines are not always working properly, or you could burp, or something else could happen that could skew the result. Because everyone seems to think the breathalyzer is the final word on intoxication, a bad result could = conviction, even if you weren't actually impaired.

(And the advice that few are comfortable acknowledging is that, if you've been drinking and suspect you're over the limit, then you absolutely should refuse the breathalyzer, suffer the license suspension, and take your chances trying to beat the other evidence in court.)

It's also worth noting that a good lawyer can get almost anyone off of any charge, no matter how bad the evidence.

With that said, Kabot has a strong case against WHB - expect some legal maneuvering first, then a confidential settlement before she's able to sit everyone down for depositions." May 5, 11 2:42 PM

Southampton Town Board Appoints Wilson As Police Chief

HHS - While Belch may not be the best case to cite (the court expressly limited it to its facts), other cases (for ex., see Thomas v. Whalen, 51 F.3d 1285, and cases it cites) make clear that rules/regs prohibiting an officer commenting on matters of public concern while in uniform pass constitutional muster.
However, the question here seems to be: Do the Village/Town/State PDs have rules/regs prohibiting the officers' conduct? Without a rule/reg, there doesn't appear to be a common law, constitutional or other basis for prohibiting such behavior. Do you know the answer to this?
Regardless, I agree that VOS owns the "FAIL" on his read of Belch. The case did not turn solely on the fact that it was a TV interview, or that the officers were on duty; instead, the most significant factor in Belch (and in similar cases) is that the officer comments on a matter of public concern while giving the appearance of acting in an official capacity. Under these cases, wearing the uniform clearly gives that appearance (in Whalen the off-duty cop was not in uniform but identified himself as a police officer and wore his badge on his suit jacket, and that was enough). Wearing the uniform, even off-duty, is clearly enough to trigger a violation, BUT only if there is a rule/reg to be violated." May 6, 11 4:22 PM

Head Start May Face Federal Budget Cuts Next Year

C'mon BF - anyone who talks about "immigration" is talking about illegal immigration. And kids born here are US citizens, even if their parents are here illegally. So let's move on.
This is a KIDS issue, plain and simple. There's no other group more deserving of whatever benefits and protections we can provide, particularly kids of poor parents, and yes, even if their parents came here illegally. If you want to ship them back, do it, but don't gut a worthy program like Head Start, which also benefits kids of 'legal' parents.
The children in this country - even those of illegal parents - are our future, like it or not. Yet somehow we continue to cut spending on education, children's healthcare, and programs like Head Start, while still finding a way to fund tax cuts for the ultrawealthy and to allow corporations to avoid paying taxes by leaving massive loopholes in our corporate tax code. It is shameful. " May 6, 11 5:39 PM

Seven School District Budgets Get Passing Grades In Western Southampton Town

Great news for the students in these towns - congratulations! Here's hoping the schools make every dollar count." May 18, 11 5:17 PM

Southampton Town Board To Consider Most Expensive CPF Purchase In History

I checked the tax roll - the parcel is 90.9 acres, listed as agricultural use, and assessed at $3.243m, less a $1.569m agricultural exemption, for taxable value of $1.935m. Don't know the tax rate so can't compute the taxes.

Also, NY (like most states) has a program whereby land devoted to agricultural use receives a substantial tax exemption for as long as the ag use is maintained. This encourages farming, since most farms would fold and sell to developers if their land was assessed at its fair market value. However, if the agricultural use is abandoned, then the property owner must pay a tax equal to five times the most recent tax year exemption savings. For example, if, as a result of the agricultural exemption, the farm owner saved $500K in taxes in the year before the ag use was abandoned, he/she would owe $2.5m in back taxes. Note that most any developer would gladly pay this for a chance to develop a parcel like the Foster farm, since they'd recoup it many times over.

So to answer the question being posed here, there should be no loss in tax revenue as a result of the sale of the development rights, because the parcel is not presently being valued and taxed based on those rights. The purchase merely prevents residential (or other) development of the land in perpetuity. " May 26, 11 9:10 AM

Sorry - didn't mean to hit 'like' but meant to hit reply.
Unless I'm misunderstanding your question, I don't think taxes will change. As I understand NY's Ag Assessment law, qualifying farmland is not assessed at its highest and best use fair market value - in other words, this farm is not assessed based on its residential development value. Instead, the ag law sets a per-acre assessed value for different classifications of farmland (apparently classified based on the type of soil present), and that number is multiplied by the number of acres to get the property's assessed value. So, even though the Town is proposing to buy the development rights, that won't have an impact on the assessed value or taxes due, because the property wasn't being assessed on that basis to begin with. Instead, it will continue to be assessed as a farm.

My info is from this site: http://www.orps.state.ny.us/pamphlet/exempt/agassess.htm

It provides in part:

Q. How is the amount of assessment reduction determined?
A. After deciding whether the parcel, or any part of it, is eligible for an agricultural assessment, the assessor calculates such assessment by multiplying the acreage in each soil group and farm woodland by the applicable agricultural assessment value. The values for each soil group are annually certified by the New York State Board of Real Property Tax Services. The sum of the values is multiplied by the municipality's latest State equalization rate or special equalization rate. The resulting figure is the agricultural assessment for the eligible land in the parcel. This amount is compared to the assessed value of the eligible land. Any assessed value above the agricultural assessment is exempt from real property taxation. In other words, taxes on eligible farmland are based on the land's agricultural assessment rather than its full assessment.

" May 26, 11 12:38 PM

Longtime East Quogue School Educator Will Retire This Month

Don't hate the player, hate the game.
ZAPPY - I don't get it. When Lynn Schwartz retired - after 'only' 10 years - as superintendent of the WHB school district you had nothing but good things to say. I'll bet his salary and pension were significantly higer than Ms. Enners after her 21 years of hard work. Ms. Enners worked for 21 years and directly improved the lives of over 500 of our kids - get off her back.
FCMCMANN - It's not the success of those in the private sector that many have a problem with, it's the fact that they continue to receive tax breaks they don't need - I don't believe that if I make $75K and someone else makes $100million per year, that we should be taxed at the same rate (similarly, I should be taxed at a higher rate than someone making only $30K/yr). Maybe you do, but get your facts straight - it's not their success, it's politicians not making them pay what I think is a fairer share.

And what's up with your comment on being ranked 39th in the state? Apparently you believe that will improve if we pay teachers less? " Jun 11, 11 10:53 AM

Bishop Supports Ethics Investigation Into Weiner; Will Return Contributions If "Tainted"

If you're interested, search YouTube for Bill Maher: The Weinerlogues with Jane Lynch (she's from the show Glee) - a reading of Weiner's unedited texts with 'Lisa from Vegas' - be warned, it's absolutely foul, but pretty funny too. " Jun 15, 11 7:04 PM

Eruv Application Is Filed With Quogue Village

If I recall correctly, the central legal issue will be whether or not the towns have been diligent in removing other signs from telephone poles. If so, then their refusal to allow the eruv should be upheld as consistent with their past practice. If not, then their refusal will likely be deemed discriminatory and the EEEA will prevail. " Jan 25, 12 10:45 AM

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