High-powered firm joins newsstand battle

Sept. 17, 2012 at 7:10 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A lawyer representing a New York newsstand operator in danger of being evicted said the city has obtained the services of a high-powered law firm.

Gil Santamarina, a lawyer for Astor Place news kiosk operator Jerry Delakas, said the city has obtained the services of international law firm Proskauer Rose as the case prepares to go before the state Court of Appeals, the New York Post reported Monday.

"This truly is David vs. Goliath," Santamarina said.

Delakas, who has appeared inside his stand in movies including "Sex and the City," has run the stand for the past 25 years by subleasing it from the family that held the license for the business. However, the city's Department of Consumer Affairs declared the arrangement illegal when the family's estate attempted to renew the license for Delakas following the death of the last relative.

"So, Proskauer, a firm whose lawyers charge upwards of $800 per hour, is lending their legal services for free for the purposes of rending a 64-year-old man unemployed, jobless," Santamarina said. "What this means is that while Proskauer could have used its pro bono time toward protecting battered women or saving someone from execution, deportation or eviction. Instead, that time was taken up assisting the city in conducting an eviction!"

A city Law Department spokesman said officials "must decide who can operate newsstands in a fair and evenhanded way. The fact that Mr. Delakas flouted the rules for so long cannot -- and should not -- be the basis for denying another vendor an opportunity that's rightfully his or hers."

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