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A wrongful death suit against New York City and the mayor filed by the mother of a councilman fatally shot inside City Hall has been dismissed. The mother of Councilman James Davis of Brooklyn, Thelma Davis, initiated the suit on behalf of herself and her son’s estate. She claimed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, various police officers and the police department failed to provide adequate security at City Hall. Their negligence, she said, allowed Othniel Boaz Askew to enter the building in July 2003 with a semi-automatic handgun and kill her son. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that because Mr. Davis was a city employee, Ms. Davis’ sole remedy was a workers’ compensation claim. “In the case herein, the law is clear,” Justice Ling-Cohan ruled in Davis v. City of New York, 105833/04. “[B]y operation of the Workers’ Compensation Law and the New York City Code, the instant action is required to be dismissed in its entirety.” On the day of the shooting, Askew circumvented City Hall’s security by entering the building with Mr. Davis, who escorted him past security. Moments later, in the City Council’s chambers, Askew shot Mr. Davis seven times. A police officer then shot and killed Askew. The shooting reminded New Yorkers of the constant threat of violence, post-9/11, security measures notwithstanding. “[T]he news that violence had visited the well-fortified City Hall was a grim reminder that any security plan — no matter how well thought out and no matter how heavy the presence of police and equipment — is only as strong as its enforcement,” editorialized The New York Times. In April 2004, Ms. Davis commenced her personal injury and wrongful death case against the police, the mayor and the city. Last week, Justice Ling-Cohan granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The issue, she stated, was whether a City Council employee is covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law. She ruled that, by both statute and precedent, Workers’ Compensation coverage extends to council employees, citing NYC Code �3-204.3 and her own 2004 decision, Cruz v. City of New York, 4 Misc 3d 822. “Thus, since decedent, a City Council employee is specifically subject to the Workers’ Compensation statute, this action is barred by operation of WCL ��11 and 29, which limit plaintiff’s remedy to a Worker’s Compensation claim,” she concluded. Ms. Davis, the judge noted, has already collected $50,000 from a December 2003 Workers’ Compensation claim. Her attorney, Derek S. Sells of The Cochran Firm, argued that the defendants were all “entities distinct from the City Council, for purposes of Workers’ Compensation, and that New York City merely acted as a Workers’ Compensation ‘carrier’ for the City Council,” according to the decision. Justice Ling-Cohan dismissed the argument, finding that Sells cited “no pertinent legal authority.” On Friday, Sells said there is “a very real possibility” his client will appeal. “We sued for Councilmember Davis as a member, obviously, of the legislative branch,” he said. “Being a member of the legislative branch is distinct from being a member of the executive branch. The judge’s decision creates a fiction that somehow being a member of the legislative branch and the executive branch are the same.” In a statement released Friday, city attorney Kenneth Sasmor said, “The City shares its condolences with the Davis family on the tragic loss of their son. However, we believe the court correctly decided this case based on applicable law.”

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