The Town of Huntington Retaliates for Citizens’ Free Speech – Lawsuit Announced
Press Release Announcing Lawsuit. Jennifer & John LaVertu v. The Town of Huntington:
The Law Office Of
STEVEN A. MORELLI
1461 Franklin Avenue, Garden City, NY 11530 • Tel: 516-393-9151 • Fax: 516-280-7528
Jennifer LaVertu and John LaVertu
Federal District Court, Eastern District of New York
Case No. 13-Cv-4378
The Town of Huntington Retaliates for Citizens’ Free Speech
Concerned citizens of the Town of Huntington, Jennifer LaVertu and John LaVertu, filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Central Islip today, August 2, 2013, for violations of their First Amendment Right to Speech secured under the United States Constitution. The lawsuit is based primarily upon the Town of Huntington’s retaliation against them for their outspoken efforts to shed light on the Town’s flawed housing and land development policies which are detrimental to the community. The Town systematically targeted Mr. and Mrs. LaVertu with baseless summonses on their home, public humiliation, and efforts to sabotage Mr. LaVertu’s longtime plumbing business.
After a highly publicized outbreak of violence in the Town in 2010, Plaintiffs and other citizens became concerned with the direction of the Town. Part of their concern involved the Town’s proposed approval of a housing development known as “Avalon Bay”, which they viewed as harmful to the community. In September 2010, Plaintiffs and other concerned citizens successfully stopped the planned Avalon Bay development, a significant victory for Plaintiffs and all citizens of the Town of Huntington. Further, In January 2011, Plaintiffs published a well researched and documented video on YouTube exposing the disastrous effects of the Town’s alleged “revitalization” strategy, which in reality severely diminished the Town’s tax base and stymied the local economy. In a direct response to Plaintiffs’ video, in February 2011, the Town published its own rebuttal video on YouTube, defending its flawed and detrimental policies.
However, in addition to publishing a video on YouTube directly challenging Plaintiffs Free Speech, the Town initiated a campaign to harass and target Plaintiffs for their Constitutionally protected activities. Their house was targeted with baseless summonses, Mr. LaVertu’s plumbing license was threatened, and they were publicly defamed on Facebook and other avenues. Unbelievably, Town officials were caught on tape threatening to “neutralize” the Plaintiffs and their activities, and commenting that “no good deed goes unpunished.” These heinous threats against Free Speech and Liberty have no place in our country, which is supposed to be the Land of the Free. Mr. and Mrs. LaVertu have bravely come forward to expose the bullying and unconstitutional acts taken by the Town of Huntington to protect its flawed policies and silence opposition. This lawsuit was commenced for the purpose of ending the unlawful retaliation against Mr. and Mrs. LaVertu, and to take back the rights of the citizens of the Town of Huntington to engage in open, free and public debate regarding Town policies.
STEVEN A. MORELLI. Attorney
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