Plaintiffs Submit Further Details and Argument Supporting Claims Against Sheldon Silver in Vito Lopez Sexual Harassment Case

Here and below is the letter recently filed by the attorney for plaintiffs Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera in their sexual harassment lawsuit against Vito Lopez and Sheldon Silver.  It responds to Silver’s letter in which he outlines his proposed motion to dismiss the case.

As to their Section 1983 claims, plaintiffs contend, in part:

Silver contends that plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claims fail because plaintiffs do not allege that he took “actions” under color of state law and that he cannot be liable for alleged inaction. However, defendant cites no authority for this proposition and it is not the law. Rather, plaintiffs need only demonstrate that Silver was “personally involved” in the deprivation of their rights. Personal involvement can be shown by evidence that, inter alia, “the defendant participated directly in the alleged constitutional violation. . . [or] the defendant created a policy or custom under which unconstitutional practices occurred.” Both of those circumstances are pleaded in the Complaint.

Silver assisted Lopez in sexually harassing plaintiffs by: 1) authorizing a secret settlement with two of Lopez’s previous victims using state funds; 2) requiring those victims agree to complete confidentiality regarding their allegations against Lopez or even the fact that there had been a settlement; 3) arranging for the transfer of a third victim out of Lopez’s office to the Assembly’s central staff; and 4) failing to investigate Lopez, in violation of the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy, or take any other steps to ensure the safety of the Assembly employees in Lopez’s office. By his actions and omissions, Silver enabled Lopez’s unlawful conduct toward plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs also contend that Silver was an “employer” and liable as an “aider and abettor” of sexual harassment, and hence liable, under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.


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