Tag Archives: Josh Koskoff

Roundup: Anita Hill, Serena & Lily, Landscape Design …

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Today’s “balloon test” — designed to show what a 124-foot cell tower proposed for 92 Greens Farms Road — has been canceled. No further information is available.

Today’s event at 92 Greens Farms Road is off. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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Lynn Grossman has a full-time job, as senior vice president, wealth management for Raymond James Financial in Westport.

But she spends nearly all the rest of her time giving back to those less fortunate.

A Westporter since 1985, she runs a non-profit in Queens. She also serves on Fairfield County’s Community Foundation professional advisor council.

The umbrella organization supports many good projects. Lynn is especially excited about the Fund for Women and Girls. Over the past 20 years, they’ve given out $8 million, impacting tens of thousands of females.

She is really excited about April 22 (12 noon, Greenwich Hyatt and virtual). This year’s guest speaker is Anita Hill.

The Brandeis University professor of law, public policy and women’s studies is the recipient of a 2019 PEN Courage Award. Her new book is Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence. In her  autobiography Speaking Truth to Power, Hill shared her story of testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about sexual harassment during her career.

Click here for tickets and more information.

Anita Hill

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A $73 million settlement last week for families of 9 Sandy Hook victims shook 2 worlds last week: the legal one, and the gun manufacturing industry.

It also brought national attention to Josh Koskoff, the Westport attorney who led the long effort.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a long feature, headlined “How They Did It: Sandy Hook Families Gain Long-Awaited Legal Wins.” The piece explores Koskoff’s strategy, and its implications for similar lawsuits going forward. Click here for the full story.

Josh Koskoff, in his office. (Photo/Monica Jorge for the New York Times)

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A broken sprinkler caused water damage at Serena & Lily. The Elm Street lifestyle store is closed today. They hope to open later this week. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

Serena & Lily

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Mark March 13. Turn your clocks ahead — and at noon (EDT) enjoy an Aspetuck land Trust Sunday “Brunch and Learn” lecture with landscape designer/author/photographer Rick Darke.

He’ll discuss the vital roles native plants play in beautiful, ecologically sound, and broadly functional residential landscape design.

It’s free for members, $18 for non-members. Click here for details, and to register.

Rick Darke

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It’s mid late February. Time for some “Westport … Naturally” color!

(Photo/Judith Katz)

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And finally … happy 64th birthday to singer/songwriter, multi-Grammy-winning — and Brown University graduate — Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Koskoff Helps Settle Landmark Sandy Hook Suit

Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacred have reached an agreement with the maker of the assault weapon.

The $73 million settlement seems to be the largest of its kind ever between a gun manufacturer and relatives of a mass shooting, the New York Times says.

The paper adds: “It also represents a significant setback to the firearm industry because the lawsuit, by employing a novel strategy, pierced the vast shield enshrined in federal law protecting gun companies from litigation.”

Josh Koskoff

The lead lawyer for the victims’ families — 5 children and 4 adults — is Josh Koskoff. The 1984 Staples High School graduate — and still a Westport resident — practices with Bridgeport-based Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder.

The Times explains:

The families contended that Remington, the gun maker, violated state consumer law by promoting the weapon in a way that appealed to so-called couch commandoes and troubled young men like the gunman who stormed into the elementary school on Dec. 14, 2012, killing 20 first graders and six adults in a spray of gunfire.

Koskoff said: “These 9 families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook. It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal.”

(Click here for the full New York Times article. In 2014, Koskoff appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” to discuss the lawsuit he’d just filed. Click here for that story.) 

Roundup: Josh Koskoff, Free Coffee, WTF Tree, Millie Rae’s …

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Yesterday, a Connecticut Superior Court judge Barbara Bellis ruled in favor of 8 families of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. They sued conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — who called the massacre a government-led hoax to confiscate firearms, and called the families “actors” — for defamation.

It was a victory for the families — one of whom has had to move 10 times since the shooting, due to harassment from Jones’ followers — and for Josh Koskoff. The Westport-based attorney represented the Sandy Hook families.

After the ruling, he was interviewed by several major media outlets. Click here, then scroll down for the transcript of his appearance on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.”

Josh Koskoff

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Steam Coffee Tea is new. The Westport Transit District’s Wheels2U service has been around awhile, but they recently added a few upgrades.

This Thursday and Friday (November 18 and 19), they team up to offer riders a freebie. Anyone using Wheels2U those mornings can show proof of their completed ride between 6 and 10 a.m., for a free coffee.

Wheels2U is the WTD’s on-demand group ride door-to -train platform shuttle service. Steam is the recently opened coffee shop on Railroad Place.

Westporters can use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup  between 5:45 and 9:45 a.m., and 4 and 8 p.m., to be taken to or from the Saugatuck or Greens Farms train platform and their front door. Pickups should be requested 20 minutes before normally leaving to drive to the station.  The fare is $2, paid via the Wheels2U app.  A Metro North Uniticket rail/bus pass can also be used.

For more information about Wheels2U, including how to download the Wheels2U app and book a ride, click here. For more information about the Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

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Everyone has their own idea of when the holiday season “really” starts.

If yours is the lighting of the Wakeman Town Farm tree, then get ready for Friday, December 3.

Musicians from Staples High, and Long Lots and Greens Farms Elementary School, will play Christmas and Hanukkah favorites at 4:30 p.m. The tree lighting is at 4:45 p.m.

Then comes marshmallows by the bonfire, treats from The Porch and Sweet P Bakery, and hot chocolate from The Granola Bar and Starbucks.

It’s festive and fun. It’s family friendly. And of course, it’s free.

Wakeman Town Farm tree lighting, in 2019. Last year’s event was canceled, due to COVID.

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Millie Rae’s is a favorite Westport shopping destination.

Here’s one more reason to love the Post Road East clothing store. Today (Tuesday, November 16), they’re donating 20% of all proceeds to A Better Chance of Westport. That’s the wonderful Westport program — and North Avenue home — that provides educational opportunities at Staples High School for students from underserved communities.

The event goes on all day. From 4 to 6 p.m., you can enjoy champagne and treats will you shop.

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The Greenwich Community Sailing program will not run at Tod’s Point next summer. The vendor — who also owns Longshore Sailing School — did not renew the lease. Construction in the area is forcing relocation.

Longshore Sailing School will operate as usual this summer. Greenwich Community Sailing gift cards will be eligible for use there. A program discount will be extended to Greenwich residents too. (Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Peter Gold)

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Westporter Denise Zack is a certified life coach, meditation instructor, yoga teacher and — as founder of Ripple Affect Life Coaching — a wellness-based consultant and educator for individuals and businesses.

Now she’s an author, too.

Zack just published “Ripple Affect: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.” It offers 8 steps toward “reclaiming your happiness and living a balanced life.” Ripple effects begin within us, she says, and reach out to touch many others. (The books title is spelled with an “a” because an “affect” means touching one’s feelings, or moving emotionally.)

For more information, click here.

Denise Zack

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It’s November. Naturally, there’s frost in the morning.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows yesterday’s scene (in Weston, but still…). Button up!

(Photo/Regi Kendig)

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And finally … Graeme Edge, drummer and co-founder of the Moody Blues, died of complications from cancer on Thursday in Florida. He was 80 years old.

I was not a fan of the spoken word poems he wrote, which helped define the progressive rock era. But I know they were popular.

I’m more of a fan of their earlier and later works. Here are 3 of their biggest hits, from 3 different eras. (Click here for a full obituary.)

 

Remembering Michael Koskoff

The New York Times summed up the full life of a remarkable man in its lead paragraph:

Michael Koskoff, a renowned and dogged Connecticut litigator who defended Black Panthers, won record malpractice awards, mounted racial job-discrimination battles and sued gunmakers whose weapons were used in the Sandy Hook school massacre, died on Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 77.

The story details many more achievements of the longtime Westporter, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

He collaborated with his son Jacob on the screenplay for “Marshall,” the 2017 film about a major civil rights case — in Bridgeport – litigated by future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. (Click here for the complete “06880” story.)

Michael Koskoff’s son Josh was a partner in their law firm. This photo was taken as they worked on an important gun rights case just a month before Michael died.

With his other son, Westport resident Josh — a senior partner in the law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder — he won an important gun rights case last month. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that manufacturers of guns used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre can be held liable, in a suit brought by victims’ families.

Another celebrated case — involving hiring quotas in Bridgeport for black and Hispanic police officers — led to similar suits elsewhere. The result was more minorities being hired by police and fire departments across the country.

Michael Koskoff also “pioneered the use of vivid courtroom videos delivered in a documentary format,” the Times said.

He is survived by Rosalind Jacobs, his wife of 56 years; sons Josh and Jacob; daughters Sarah (an actress and screenwriter) and Juliet (a lawyer in New York); 2 sisters, and 8 grandsons.

Roz and Michael Koskoff

Michael Koskoff was a very devoted father and grandfather. In a torrent of tributes, some of the most eloquent were posted on social media by those closest to him.

The day after his father died, Jacob wrote:

Over the past 24 hours many have said they are sorry for our loss, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why that hasn’t sounded right. But the answer is obvious: from the very beginning, it was just so incredibly unfair how fortunate we were to have had him as a father.

A month earlier, on his father’s birthday, Jacob had said:

Soon after he got his diagnosis, my dad and I were walking in downtown Westport waiting for our takeout. It was dark and cold, and he was slow, and I was holding a box of cupcakes — students were raising money for something that I’m pretty sure was never explained to us. For the first time I asked him how he was feeling, in the greater sense. He took one breath and said, “I’m just glad this happened after the movie came out. If it had been before, I’d be seriously pissed.”

He has 8 grandsons, and each one is his favorite.

Eyes on the Prize. Wild Strawberries. Shakespeare at The Public Theater. He took me to see Annie when I was 8. Henry IV parts 1 and 2 a few years later. He is the most unpretentious, socially conscious, opera-loving wine connoisseur you’ll ever meet.

Michael and Jake Koskoff, collaborating on “Marshall.”

We went to dozens of Mets games together. He coached my Little League teams with his friend Terry Smith. They would sometimes pick the batting lineup out of a hat. He knew little about how the game was played and had no business coaching a team of 13-15-year-olds. He’d hit fielding practice and say “third base,” then weakly ground the ball to first. He had devoted himself to the sport, had humbled himself, only to be closer to me. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Joan Baez taught him how to play the guitar in Harvard Square.

He once lent a car he wasn’t using to an acquaintance. Not even a friend, just someone he knew who needed a car. He never saw the car again. Not only did my dad not report it to the police, but for years he paid the guy’s parking tickets.

What’s the opposite of self-pity? Right, gratitude. That’s his religion: live with grace and kindness, persistence, generosity, and always, whenever possible, with gratitude.

Michael Koskoff and Barack Obama share smiles.

Michael’s daughter Juliet Koskoff Diamond added:

He died as he lived, with grace and gratitude for all the gifts he has been giving. In the end he was surrounded by his family, listening, to Mozart and quoting Shakespeare. He was able to say goodbye and was at peace.

And Josh’s wife, Darcy Hicks, wrote:

My father-in-law, Mike Koskoff, spent 77 years blasting this earth with love and justice. Knowing him made your life easier. He made it easy to become a part of his amazing family. He made it easier to laugh when you thought you weren’t in the mood. He made it easier to see the path to justice when no one thought there was one.

And mostly, he made it easy to love everyone- because through his eyes, empathy spilled and cleaned the view, so everyone who knew him could see how to live better. There’s only one thing he made impossible: doing that deifying thing we do about someone when they die. He just didn’t leave us any room to embellish him.

(Click here for the full New York Times obituary.)

Staples Students Fight Gun Violence

The other day, 2 students were killed — and 18 injured — in a Kentucky school shooting.

It barely registered as news.

We’ve grown so inured to the drumbeat of gun violence — 89 people are shot to death each day in America, including far too many young people — that it’s become almost a non-issue.

But “almost” means there’s still hope.

At Staples High School, students in Cathy Schager’s Contemporary World social studies class have formed a community action group.

It’s called Disarm Gun Violence: Educating the Public About Common Sense Gun Laws.

Ms. Schager’s class created a poster, and hung it near the Staples cafeteria. Each dot represents one child killed by a gun last year. This is a small section of the poster.

This Monday (January 29, 7 p.m., Staples library) they’re hosting an event. There are 2 goals: raising awareness, and encouraging a community conversation.

A short documentary will be followed by a panel. Speakers include Westport police chief Foti Koskinas, and Josh Koskoff, a Westport resident and attorney representing 10 Sandy Hook victims’ families, in a suit against Bushmaster Firearms.

The evening includes a raffle. Proceeds will go to Sandy Hook Promise and CT Against Gun Violence.

Because — far too often — this issue hits very close to home.

Please Excuse Eli And Lulu …

This is the time of year when 12th graders suffer serious cases of senioritis.

But Eli Debenham and Lulu Stracher are 2 of Staples’ most politically aware — and active — students.

So this morning — instead of school — they headed to Norwalk Community College.

Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal discussed gun violence. The forum was moderated by Westport attorney Josh Koskoff.

It was an important, informative event. But afterward, Eli and Lulu had a typical high school worry: They needed a note for missing class.

No problem!

They just asked Senator Murphy to write one.

He happily obliged.

Lulu Stracher, Eli Debenham, and the man who excused them from class this morning.

The note read:

Please excuse my friends for their absence. I required their attendance in my forum on violence — under penalty of arrest! — Chris Murphy

You may like Connecticut’s junior senator or not. But you gotta admit: That’s great constituent service!

Lulu and Eli’s note.

Other Roots: A Very Different Tree Story

Yesterday, “06880” reported on the questionable status of a jinormous sycamore arcing across Long Lots Road.

Today’s post is about another tree. This one is going nowhere. Harding Lane residents make sure of that.

The story begins with Orvis Yingling. He, his wife and their 3 kids moved to Westport in the early 1960s, and took full advantage of the town. They were avid sailors. Orvis joined the board of the Nature Center (now Earthplace), and was a longtime Y member.

He and his wife climbed Mt. Everest before it was trendy. Back at sea level, Orvis walked up and down Harding Lane even after suffering a series of strokes.

When he died at 90, everyone on his road — honoring his fondness for nature — bought a tree in his memory.

Harding Lane tree

Orvis’ wife thought ahead. Knowing she’d be moving — and unsure what would happen to her home — she asked Josh Koskoff and his wife Darcy Hicks if it could be planted on their lawn. (They live on the corner of Hillspoint Road, so everyone on the cul-de-sac enjoys it.)

A couple of weeks ago, Orvis’ daughter brought over a plaque. It reads:

In memory of Orvis Yingling, Jr.
1919-2009
Gardener, Gentleman, Friend
Given by his neighbors

It makes his memorial a bit more official.

Though his tree will live on long after the lettering fades.

Sad footnote: Orvis’s wife was right. Her property is in the midst of being completely razed — trees and all.