Lawsuits Attempting to Block ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Defeated
On November 14, 2012, the Supreme Court of the State of New York finally issued its decision on the second of two lawsuits that had attempted to block the development of a mosque and Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan, referred to by many as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.
In that case, Plaintiff Vincent Forras had alleged that the planned community center was a public nuisance, and that its very existence constituted an intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Forras brought a class action lawsuit for damages in the amount of $350 million, allegedly sustained by him and hundreds of unnamed others.
The lawsuit was filed in September 2010 and gained international notoriety at the time. Pete Reid was interviewed by the Sunday Herald in October of that year and commented that: “This is an entirely frivolous case, based on bigotry.” The top floor of the existing building was damaged by landing gear that penetrated the roof on September 11, 2001, and the project was in the news again this week when more plane parts were found in an 18 inch space behind the building.
Together with Dov Treiman, Pete Reid wrote the motion to dismiss that was eventually granted in November by Justice Lucy Billings. In her decision, the judge agreed with virtually every argument put forth by Mr. Reid in his papers. Judge Billings wrote that even under the very forgiving standard by which a motion to dismiss must be decided, the Plaintiff failed to show “any nuisance, extreme or outrageous conduct as required for infliction of emotional distress, or assaultive conduct that would emanate from a religious institution.”
The case was dismissed in its entirety clearing the way for the project to be developed and Forras’ attorney Larry Klayman was ordered to pay a portion of Defendants’ attorneys fees. A closer examination of the case can be read here.
Employee Wins Right to Work for Competitor Despite ‘Non-Compete’
A renowned Austin hair stylist recently retained Pete Reid Law after he was sued by his former Salon for allegedly breaching a ‘Confidentiality and Non-competition Agreement’.
The Agreement stated that upon conclusion of his employment, the Stylist could not work in any other hair salon for a period of 12 months within a 5-mile radius of the Salon. When the Stylist moved to a new location less than two miles from his former employer, the Salon filed a lawsuit and sought an immediate injunction to stop the Stylist from working.
At the hearing on the injunction, Pete Reid cross-examined the owner of the Salon and was able to show that the Salon’s efforts to restrict the mobility of the Stylist were essentially designed to restrain competition.
Presiding Judge Darleen Byrne agreed with Pete Reid and stated that restrictions on employee mobility which are designed primarily to restrain competition are unlawful. The request for injunction was dismissed, and the Stylist was therefore able to continue working for the competitor. A full summary of the case can be read here.
This was not the first high-profile case for Pete Reid involving hair salons. In 2007, the New York Daily News reported one of Mr. Reid’s first big victories. You can read more on both these cases and much more in the updated case archive at petereidlaw.com.
Pete Reid Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland
Since 2009 Pete Reid’s blog Dear Scotland has published regular articles on Scottish music, movies, sport, and books for other expat Scots around the world. During last month’s South by Southwest Festival, Pete was interviewed about the blog by Vic Galloway of BBC Radio Scotland as part of the BBC’s SXSW coverage.
Pete Reid has been a regular at the festival since 1995, at times as a band manager and now as an entertainment attorney, but always as a music fan.
In the interview, Pete discusses his reasons for starting Dear Scotland, he talks about being a Scottish lawyer in America, and he gives Vic some cheeky advice on whether or not he should move to Austin. You can listen to the interview in full here:
Presentations at Federal Bar Conference and University of Texas
Over the last year, there has been worldwide interest in the debate over Scotland’s independence from the UK. Moreover, the fact that an agreement to hold a referendum has been reached so democratically, and in accordance with the rule of law is of particular interest to international legal and political scholars. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, Pete Reid is a founding member of Americans for an Independent Scotland, an organization that aims to educate and inform Americans about Scottish independence in the run-up to the historic referendum.
Here in the United States, there has been a renewed interest in Hawaiian sovereignty over the last few years, and it was with this in mind that Pete Reid was invited by the Hawaiian chapter of the Federal Bar Association to speak at its annual conference in December 2012, on the topic of ‘Law and the Right of Self Determination’. In January, Pete Reid was also invited to address students at the University of Texas on the same issues. When asked about these lectures on the Americans for an Independent Scotland website, Pete Reid said:
Pete Reid also delivered the ‘Immortal Memory’ speech at the largest Robert Burns Night in Austin this past January hosted by the Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums, where he offered the toast to Robert Burns intermixed with some “spicy humor“.
Rotary Club of Austin Camp Enterprise
As an active member in the Rotary Club of Austin, Pete Reid recently participated in the 31st Annual Camp Enterprise event in Burnet, Texas. Each February the Rotary Club selects around 100 high school students in the Austin area, who interact with business, civic and government leaders to learn first hand about business start-ups, management, employee relations, the responsibilities of businesses toward society, and business ethics.
As part of the weekend, the students were split into groups to develop a business plan for a new product or service. Mr. Reid advised the students on the legal and social implications of those business ideas.
The goal of Camp Enterprise is to inspire the students to become the next generation of successful and ethical business leaders for the city of Austin. And one of Pete Reid’s goals was to get these future leaders accustomed to hearing legal advice with a Scottish accent!