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Second Circuit Victory For Pro Bono Client

Paul, Weiss achieved victory for a pro bono client at the Second Circuit, which vacated and remanded a district court decision that had dismissed our client’s § 1983 claims.  

Our client, proceeding pro se, brought excessive force claims against certain correctional officers in connection with a 2005 incident that resulted in our client requiring significant medical treatment. Paul, Weiss joined the case as pro bono counsel in 2014 to assist with discovery and trial. In 2015, the New York Attorney General, counsel for defendants, moved for leave to file for summary judgment nearly five years after the deadline for such motions had passed. The AG claimed that our client’s claims were prohibited by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), which bars § 1983 claims whose success would necessarily imply the invalidity of a prior conviction. Although the district court denied defendants’ motion as untimely, it nonetheless sua sponte dismissed our client’s complaint on the exact grounds that defendants had set forth in their briefing.

Paul, Weiss filed an appeal to the Second Circuit, which heard oral argument in the case on September 13. Associates Luke Flynn-Fitzsimmons and Cameron Friedman argued that our client’s claims in no way implicated the Heck doctrine under Supreme Court or Second Circuit jurisprudence, because the elements of our client’s claims did not conflict with the elements for a claim of excessive force, and because our client’s factual allegations did not necessarily imply the invalidity of his prior guilty plea. On October 12, the Second Circuit issued a summary order adopting the positions laid out in Paul, Weiss’s briefs, vacating the judgment of the district court, and remanding for further proceedings.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners David Brown and Aidan Synnott and associates Luke Flynn-Fitzsimmons, Cameron Friedman and Eunice Hong.

October 13, 2017

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