The defense completed its case yesterday at the trial of Alexandra Marchuk’s sexual harassment claims against the New York City law firm of Faruqi & Faruqi and partner Juan Monteverde. Prior coverage of the trial is available here, here, here, and here.
Yesterday, Mr. Monteverde testified more about the blood-stained carpet, saying he had not noticed the stains until Ms. Marchuk told him the following Monday that she had been injured during their sexual encounter in the wee hours after the firm holiday party in December 2011. Mr. Monteverde then noticed the stains, panicked, and, without verifying that they were blood stains, poured black coffee over them to cover them up.
“I acted in a reckless manner with [Ms. Marchuk], and so did she,” he said.
U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein issued an order yesterday dismissing firm co-founders and individual defendants Nadeem Faruqi and his sister, Lubna Faruqi, from the lawsuit. He also dismissed Ms. Marchuk’s claims for retaliation and defamation based on a counterclaim that the firm filed against her and a press release saying that the lawsuit was an attempt at extortion. (These aspects of the judge’s decision are probably worthy of a future blog post.)
Ms. Marchuk’s attorneys say that they will ask the judge to reconsider these rulings, but meanwhile Ms. Marchuk’s sexual harassment claims against the law firm and Mr. Monteverde will go forward.
Trial is adjourned until Monday, when Ms. Marchuk is expected to present rebuttal evidence. Then it will be up to the jury.
Thanks as always to Law360 (and reporters Ben James and Max Stendhal) for keeping up with the trial. Mr. Stendhal has a nice feature this morning about Judge Hellerstein. A paid subscription is required to access the full article, but here are a few highlights:
During trial testimony, “a witness remarked that he would ‘rather be anywhere else’ than at the trial. “[T]he judge sarcastically replied, ‘A lot of people share that sentiment.’”
Rim shot! And, on a more serious note,
Judge Hellerstein is also given to self-reflection in the courtroom. An Orthodox Jew, the judge wrote a law review article in 2013 reflecting on how his personal religious convictions have affected his rulings. . . . ‘I am accountable for all my rulings, orders and judgments to the litigants, to the courts of appeal and ultimately to God,’ the judge wrote.
The judge has drawn national attention for his role in overseeing sprawling litigation by people injured in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including rescue workers and first responders at Ground Zero. In March 2010, Judge Hellerstein drew the ire of defense attorneys – and praise from some victims’ advocates – by rejecting a $657.5 million settlement as inadequate.