The Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York represents the interests of the United States in a wide range of affirmative and defensive civil actions in the United States District and Bankruptcy Courts, as well as in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The division has a main office, which is located in Brooklyn, and a Long Island office, which is located at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. The division is presently staffed by more than 50 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and several Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
The Civil Division has exceptionally strong affirmative, asset forfeiture, defensive, programmatic, and appellate practices. The affirmative practices include health care, defense contractor, mortgage fraud, and other qui tam cases brought under the False Claims Act. The division also maintains strong civil rights, environmental, and civil RICO practices and brings numerous civil penalty actions to enforce Government health and safety statutes and regulations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Civil Division are at the forefront in developing and initiating affirmative cases that vindicate important governmental interests, protect the public, and result in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The defensive practices, in which the Government is sued for money damages, include Bivens or constitutional tort actions in which federal employees and officials are sued personally for money damages, personal injury actions under the Federal Tort Claims Act (e.g., auto accident, slip and falls), medical malpractice cases against VA hospitals and federally subsidized health clinics under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and employment discrimination (race, national origin, religion, gender, age, and disability) cases brought by Government employees against federal agencies. At any given time, the Civil Division defends hundreds of cases that seek, in the aggregate, millions of dollars against the Government, its agencies, officials, and employees. New Assistant U.S. Attorneys carry a significant docket of defensive cases in order to become familiar with the unique defenses available to the Government in civil litigation and to master the fundamentals of civil case handling, including the drafting of pleadings and dispositive motions, preparing and responding to written discovery demands, taking and defending fact and expert witness depositions, engaging in settlement negotiations, and conducting jury and non-jury trials.
Programmatic cases, in which declaratory and/or injunctive relief is sought, may be among the most high profile cases in the country and include cases brought under the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, and other substantive statutes, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the Social Security Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the DNA Analysis Backlog Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the River and Harbor Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. Civil Assistants have defended challenges to the constitutionality of the FBI’s inclusion of civil immigration information in its criminal database, as well as claims of unreasonable delay by the Food and Drug Administration in making the morning after pill available without a prescription and by the Department of the Interior in granting federal recognition to a Long Island tribe known as the Shinnecock Indian Nation.
The Civil Division also has several specialized units, including the Financial Litigation Unit (“FLU”), which is responsible for enforcing civil and criminal judgments by collecting debts due and owing the Government, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (“AFU”), which seeks to forfeit the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, the Immigration Unit, which defends statutory and constitutional challenges arising under the nation’s immigration laws, and the Social Security Unit, which defends claims for benefits under the Social Security Act.
In addition, the Civil Division offers Assistant U.S. Attorneys the opportunity to prepare appellate briefs and to argue cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.