“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
– Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933, 30th President of the United States)
Chittur & Associates, P.C., is a friendly and small, but savvy and sophisticated, socially conscientious law firm. Our work ethic is uncompromising, our tenacity is unwavering, and our commitment to clients is unswerving. We handle few cases at a time, thereby ensuring focused attention to each case and get the best results for our clients. As a result of this laser-like focus, we have often obtained extremely favorable results. Whether in consumer protection, class actions, religious organization disputes, or in other commercial litigation and appeals, we have frequently secured judgments or optimum settlements tailored to fulfill clients’ (and class’) needs, whether that need is monetary or non monetary (e.g., change of a business practice).
Krishnan Chittur the Founder and Principal of the firm, has over 35 years of experience in civil litigation and trial. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is admitted to the Bar in Mumbai, India, New York, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits. Prior to founding Chittur and Associates, P.C., he was associated with nationally renowned litigation firms. He has conducted jury and non-jury trials, and handled several appeals in State and federal courts read more
Audrey Strutinskiy is counsel to the firm focusing on consumer protection and civil commercial litigation. A first generation immigrant from Ukraine, he graduated from Tulane Law School with a Masters in Law in 2003 read more
Some Notable Recent Successes: Civil Litigation
Chittur represented Mr. Kollars, an Arizona businessman, and his business LHC, defendants and counterclaim plaintiffs, in an action by Northern Leasing to recover balance of payments allegedly due under a lease. Northern Leasing initially prevailed, and obtained summary judgment against Kollars, but Chittur appealed and that judgment was reversed on appeal. Kollars then filed an answer and counterclaims denying having signed that lease, and asserted claims for fraud, and violation of federal and state credit reporting statutes.. After a jury trial lasting three days, on Thursday, June 11, 2015, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Kollars for $1.125 million after barely a couple of hours of deliberations. The Judge subsequently reduced this verdict to $200,000. Northern Leasing Systems, Inc. v. Kollars The case is now in appeal.
An action on behalf of several foreign-born pharmacists challenging the constitutionality of New York State Education Law, Section 6805(1)(6), which governs the licensing of pharmacists in New York. The pharmacists-plaintiffs asserted that this statutory provision (a) discriminates against aliens in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and (b) interferes with the national immigration policy which is the exclusive province of the United States government and enunciated in immigration laws enacted by the U.S. Congress, thereby violating the Supremacy Clause. The federal court upheld the challenge and issued an injunction against New York State from enforcing Education Law, Section 6805(1)(6). Adusumelli v. Steiner. The State of New York filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On July 10, 2012, the Second Circuit upheld the decision of the District Court and denied the State’s appeal. Dandamudi v Tisch.
In December 2001, Chittur represented India Abroad, the leading Indian American publication in North America, against an India based newspaper, Gujarat Samachar, in a commercial dispute before the Manhattan federal court. After a week long trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of India Abroad for $560,000. The case was widely reported in the Indian American press; several major news reports carried verbatim transcripts of Mr. Chittur’s spectacular cross examination of Gujarat Samachar’s principal at trial. He then successfully prevailed against Gujarat Samachar’s attempt to reopen the case. Lok Prakashan, Ltd., d/b/a Gujarat Samachar v. India Abroad Publications, Inc. In April 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. Lok Prakashan, Ltd., d/b/a Gujarat Samachar v. India Abroad Publications, Inc.
In September 2003, the firm settled an action on behalf of several victims of a Ponzi scheme against SunTrust Bank based upon the Bank’s gross indifference to mandatory provisions of banking law and practice, which indifference enabled the scheme to be perpetrated successfully. After over 2 years of litigation, the case was settled on confidential terms well above the victims’ settlement expectations.
Chittur has also settled several other cases on extremely favorable, confidential terms after tenacious litigation, including, for example, claims of 67 investors arising out of the notorious Gulati investment fraud, Chanayil v. Gulati; a travel agency’s claims for bad faith lender liability, Maharaja Travels v. Bank of India; and obtained judgments in others, such as an Indian exporter’s claim for goods sold and delivered in New York, Chaman Lal Setia Exports. Ltd. v. Sawhney.
Some Notable Recent Successes: Class Actions
In a class action against Northern Leasing Systems, Inc., Chittur obtained a landmark ruling from New York’s highest court which considerably relaxed the pleading requirements for fraud against senior corporate management in cases involving massive corporate fraud. Often, corporate management is immunized from personal liability for the fraud by the pleading-with-particularity requirement: Victims are far removed from top management, and unable to meet this pleading requirement, i.e., plead details of top management’s knowledge and participation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus brief against Chittur, arguing that mere recitation of corporate officers’ titles was insufficient for fraud claims. However, the N.Y. Court of Appeals rejected that argument. In an epoch-making ruling, it held that “The very nature of the scheme . . . gives rise to the reasonable inference” that the “corporate officers as individuals and the key positions they held, knew of and/or were involved in the fraud.” Pludeman v. Northern Leasing Systems, Inc. The trial Court then certified the case to proceed as a class action. The Appellate Division modified that certification order, as requested by Chittur, to expand the class, and denied Northern Leasing’s appeal against certification. Meanwhile, the trial Court granted partial summary judgment holding Northern Leasing liable to the class for breach of contract. Further, the trial Court also entered judgment declaring that only the first page of Northern Leasing’s form lease are enforceable. However, the Appellate Division reversed the grant of summary judgment. Based upon that reversal, the Court decertified the class. Plaintiffs appealed this decertification, and the Appellate Division reversed decertification. The trial Court then held a “framed issue hearing” to determine three classwide issues that that Court believed the Appellate Division had directed. In June 2014, that hearing was suspended indefinitely. Meanwhile, Defendants moved for decertification once again, on the same grounds as earlier. The trial court granted that motion, and subsequently stayed all proceedings. On Plaintiffs’ appeal, the Appellate Division reversed the trial court and reinstated the class certification. 1st Dep Dcsn Jun 21 2016
A class action seeking to hold a mortgage servicer (Saxon Mortgage) accountable for failure to fulfill obligations under the federally sponsored HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) to homeowners in financial distress. Despite receiving $65.8 million of taxpayer funds – and a commitment of an additional $634 million – from the United States government to assist such homeowners avoid foreclosure, Saxon nonchalantly failed to even bother setting up a proper system with adequately trained staff to meet its obligations. Instead, Saxon routinely and systematically misled, and continues to mislead, hapless homeowners into making monthly “trial” payments far beyond the trial period contemplated under HAMP, and into repeatedly sending and resending copies of documents buttressing their loan modification applications, by fostering the mistaken belief that Saxon was considering, and would consider, such applications in good faith. After receiving all these payments and giving a prolonged runaround to distressed homeowners, Saxon belatedly rejected their modification applications, pocketed portions of these payments towards late fees, penalties, and other delinquency charges, pocketed the taxpayer money, and proceeded with foreclosure anyway. Thereby, the lawsuit asserts, Saxon has substantially frustrated federal policy underlying HAMP, breached its contractual obligations to Plaintiffs and other homeowners, and violated New York’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The federal court upheld claims for deceptive trade practices, and after four years of litigation, the action was settled recently on confidential terms.
In a class action against the automobile giant Honda, Chittur secured a precedent-setting first in New York law: a preliminary injunction without the posting of any bond, convincing the Court to hold that “plaintiffs as consumers stand in the shoes of the Attorney General, who is not required to post a bond.” Shaw v. American Honda Finance Corp. The action eventually settled with Honda agreeing to refund 2/3 of payments made by over 15,000 class members since October 1997.
In another class action against the HMO giant Oxford Health Insurance, Chittur obtained class certification, which was affirmed on appeal. Makastchian v. Oxford Health Insurance. secured another precedent setting first in New York law: a Court order in a highly contested class certification requiring defendants (instead of plaintiffs) to bear the cost of class notification. Representing a class of over 12,000 insureds, Chittur obtained summary judgment on liability as a matter of law. After five years of bitter litigation, including 3 appeals and multitudinous motions, the case was settled on the eve of trial when Oxford finally agreed to pay class members 100% of the damages recoverable under law, and attorneys’ fees and expenses.
Some Notable Recent Successes: Religious Organizations’ Disputes
In October 2004, Chittur successfully protected the ISKCON Temple in Long Island from an attempt by the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of ISKCON to bar elections for office bearers and directors, and takeover the Temple. The Court largely denied the interim orders sought by the GBC. Kelley v. Garuda. The GBC then brought another action. Discovery was completed, and while the actions were on the trial calendar, Mr. Bonomo, one of the defendants in the second action, passed away. Plaintiffs have now moved to restore the first action, Kelley v. Garuda, to the trial calendar, while Defendant Gupta has cross-moved for dismissal.
In August 2003, Chittur obtained a judgment restoring membership rights in one of the oldest and largest Hindu temple in the United States. In a epoch making decision for the Hindu community and for religious organizations in general, the appellate court ordered the trustees removed, the temple reorganized, and elections for office bearers and trustees conducted under the oversight of an independent referee. Venigalla v. Alagappan, Since then, Chittur rebuffed 19 consecutive attempts by the caretaker trustees before 4 different courts to stay the elections. Elections were finally completed, and judgment entered in April 2006. However, that judgment was reversed by the N.Y. Court of Appeals on grounds which had never been raised or argued before the lower courts. Venigalla v. Nori
In July 2006, Chittur represented one faction in a congregational dispute in the Hassidic Satmar Jews in Brooklyn for control of the sprawling $500 million religious empire encompassing real estate holdings, a matzo factory, a school district and other assets. Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar of Kiryas Joel, Inc. v Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar, Inc.