A federal judge has thrown out a suit brought by attorney Frederick Brewington against Nassau County that claimed the one-time presiding officer of the legislature blocked municipal approval of settlements for cases handled by Brewington due to the lawmaker's "personal animus" against him.
In July 2011, Brewington, of Hempstead, obtained settlement agreements in two unrelated civil actions against the county that were both contingent on legislative approval. Lawmakers did not consider the settlement agreements until January 2012. At that time, they approved the settlement of one suit pertaining to police missteps in a domestic violence case that led to a woman's death but rejected the settlement in a wrongful termination case. But before the legislature took up the settlements, Brewington and his clients sued the county and its officials, including Peter Schmitt, then-presiding officer of the legislature who later died. The suit claimed Schmitt refused to put the settlements on the agenda due to his "personal animus" against Brewington for his "advocacy on behalf of the minority community and others whose rights have been violated" by the county's actions.
Yesterday, Eastern District Judge Sandra Feuerstein (See Profile) dismissed the complaint, holding that the claims against Schmitt were barred by the doctrine of legislative immunity. "The decision of when to introduce the settlement agreements for legislative approval had prospective policy and budgetary implications and cannot be analogized to mere 'administrative' action, which is not shielded by legislative immunity," she wrote in Dorsett v. County of Nassau, 11-cv-5748. She also called "conclusory" allegations that the delay stemmed from Schmitt's animus toward Brewington.