Tomorrow morning's routine status conference between City attorneys and those representing Occupy Wall Street Librarians became slightly more interesting after the City included Brookfield Properties as a co-defendant last month, claiming that the company is responsible for the destruction of the protesters' property during the night of the November 15 eviction. "I really don't think the Bloomberg administration is willing to admit any wrongdoing here," says Norman Siegel, one of the attorneys for the librarians. "We could be in good shape to ask the court for permission to take Ray Kelly's deposition, or Mayor Bloomberg's deposition…to find out what really happened that night."
The lawsuit, filed in May, asks for $47,000 in damages for the property (including over 2,800 books) that was thrown into flatbed trucks (many of them Department of Sanitation trucks) and destroyed, punitive damages, and perhaps most importantly, a jury trial at which, as Siegel says, "A jury will decide whether or not the City had the legal authority to do what it did."
Siegel says the City's attorneys would likely ask and receive a confidentiality agreement for depositions provided by City employees, as well as minutes of meetings or any other paper trail related to the raid of Zuccotti Park. "There were probably hundreds of City employees there that night, so we'd want to know things like, who was the supervisor of the sanitation trucks? Who was he taking orders from? Who met beforehand to make these decisions?" Siegel adds, We would use these depositions and documents as exhibits, and piece them together at trial like a jigsaw puzzle."
If it was a question of money, the City would likely be able to settle the case, and as a condition of the settlement they would probably not admit or deny any liability for the destruction of the property, but Siegel says that is up to his clients. Barring any further delays, tomorrow's conference will continue to set up the discovery process and pave a path to a trial that could take months, if not years.
"Bloomberg himself said that it was his decision—and at trial we'd want to know if that actually was the case, if he should be held responsible," Siegel says. "We might have to go the distance to find out."