Niagara Gazette

Courts

June 27, 2014

City and Matteo Anello return to court next month

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO -- Lawyers for the City of Niagara Falls and Matteo Anello are now scheduled to meet at the end of July, presumably to set a final date for trail on federal civil rights claims.

Anello's attorney and outside counsel for the city had been slated to meet to set a trail date last week, but that status conference was adjourned to July 30. 

A trial had been scheduled in April, in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, on the civil rights lawsuit brought by Anello against the city. However, the trial was postponed for one last attempt at mediation in the case.

Filings made with District Court Judge William Skretny indicated that the attempt had failed.

Anello, the brother of former Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello, filed suit against the city in August 2009 claiming his civil rights were violated when he was stopped from speaking at a city council meeting in October 2007 and then arrested when he refused to leave the council chambers. He is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Matteo Anello’s lawyer, Jeanne Vinal, is also asking Skretny to order the city to pay for her client’s legal expenses.

Lawyers from the Buffalo firm of Hodgson, Russ, who are representing the city, and Vinal had been in the process of exchanging trial exhibits and witness lists in preparation for the trial. Then, in late February, an apparent “hitch” developed.

Vinal notified the Hodgson, Russ lawyers that she intended to subpoena current Falls Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti. In a letter to city attorneys, Vinal said she expected Grandinetti “to testify that (City Council Member Robert) Anderson used an anti-Italian slur in her presence.”

She also indicated that she would subpoena “all complaints against Mr. Anderson for allegations of discrimination.”

Anderson, along with former city lawmakers Sam Fruscione and Chris Robins and the city are the remaining defendants in the case. Skretny had previously dismissed part of the lawsuit and pared the number of defendants.

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