Ex-NYU Law Trustee Renews Attack on Student in Labor Case

By Danielle Tcholakian on August 4, 2014 8:34am 

 Luke Herrine, one of the NYU Law students subpoenaed by companies owned by a former law school trustee.
Luke Herrine, one of the NYU Law students subpoenaed by companies owned by a former law school trustee.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A former New York University Law School trustee is accusing one of the school's students of lying in federal court, documents show.

A lawyer for Daniel Straus — whose company tried to subpoena students' personal emails as part of a court case — recently accused one of those students, Luke Herrine, of giving false testimony in the case, which involves a labor dispute between Straus' healthcare companies and a union of his workers.

The lawyer argued that Herrine was more involved in the union's attacks on Straus than Herrine had initially claimed in a sworn court statement.

Herrine's lawyer shot back that Herrine had told the truth in his statements. Herrine's lawyer also slammed Straus' lawyer for publicly attacking a young law student's honesty.

The case exploded into public view earlier this year, when Herrine and a classmate, Leo Gertner, refused to comply with subpoenas from Straus' companies, CareOne and Healthbridge. The students, who had circulated a petition questioning Straus' labor practices, argued that the demand to turn over emails, paychecks and other personal information was unwarranted and intended to scare them into silence.

MORE ON THE SUBPOENAED NYU LAW STUDENTS:

NYU Law Students' Emails Subpoenaed After Criticizing School Trustee
Subpoenaed NYU Law Students Ask School for Public Show of Support
ACLU Backs NYU Law Students Subpoenaed After Criticizing School Trustee
NYU Law Trustee Who Subpoenaed Students to Step Down
NYU Law Trustee's Company Pushing Forward With Student Email Subpoenas

The latest development in the case is the recent accusation against Herrine, with Straus' lawyer claiming that the law student lied about his involvement in the SEIU 1199 United Healthcare Workers East union's campaign against Straus.

The accusation is based on a handful of mentions of Herrine's first name sprinkled throughout 39 pages of handwritten notes from an employee of the union. Gertner's name does not appear anywhere in the notes.

CareOne's attorney claimed that the presence of Herrine's first name on a list of tasks written by a union employee proved that Herrine was "intimately involved with" and "responsible for" all of the other tasks on those lists, which detail various efforts against Straus.

But Herrine's lawyer argued that such a conclusion was illogical.

"What the cited page actually shows is that the note-maker listed Luke as one of nine bullet points that the note-marker intended to consider as part of the 'Meetings/Outreach' component of the note-maker's 'Work Plan,'" Herrine's lawyer wrote in his reply. "The assertion that these notes show that Luke was responsible for such efforts is misleading at best."

When the letter accusing Herrine of lying was first filed, it was heavily redacted because of a confidentiality agreement between CareOne and the union. The accusation against Herrine was visible, but not the evidence for it.

In the letter, Rosemary Alito, lead attorney for CareOne, wrote that Herrine's conduct was "unbecoming of a future member of the bar."

In reply, the students' lawyer lashed out at the attorney for filing a public document denigrating a student's reputation without making the evidence public, too.

"Submitting such a letter — publicly attacking the character of a law student who has done nothing but exercise his First Amendment rights — is, to quote Plaintiffs’ counsel, 'improper and unbecoming of a [current] member of the bar,'" wrote John Cuti, Herrine's lawyer. 

Cuti's letter defending Herrine was also initially redacted, but after requests from DNAinfo New York, all parties agreed to make the documents public last week.

The judge in the case has not yet ruled on whether to grant subpoenas to Straus' company, which would force Herrine and Gertner to turn over personal emails and other documents.

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