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Westhampton Beach: Utilities Seeking Free Legal Advice in Eruv Case

The Village of Westhampton Beach has submitted its final brief for dismissal request, saying LIPA and Verizon are seeking free advice from the courts in its request for clarification.

A motion to dismiss a lawsuit related to the controversial eruv that was filed by the against the Village of Westhampton Beach last year now rests in the hands of a judge — on April 26, the Village of Westhampton Beach filed its final reply memorandum.

Brian Sokoloff, attorney for the village, said the village has asked for the dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that LIPA and Verizon are using the courts for free legal advice.

LIPA and Verizon filed the suit in January to "seek clarification" on whether they have the right to grant the East End Eruv Association permission to use their utility poles to install lechis, which would mark a religious boundary that allows Orthodox Jews to carry items they wouldn't otherwise be permitted to carry on the Sabbath.

"They went to court to try to get an opinion on if they are permitted to rent their poles to the East End Eruv Association. There has to be some cause of action because you can't go to court to get free legal advice," said Sokoloff.

Sokoloff's brief further states that Verizon lacks the legal authority to carry out agreements with the East End Eruv Association to use poles on Dune Road for an eruv because the poles are subject to a franchise agreement with the Coast Guard dating back to 1938.

In their joint reply to village's motion to dismiss, LIPA and Verizon have maintained that the Village of Westhampton Beach is evading litigation by refusing to say officially whether it believes that prior approval is required or whether or not it intends to take action if the lechies are attached.

In their brief, Michael Wiles and Erica Weisgerber, attorneys for LIPA and Verizon, argue that "If the Village of Westhampton Beach does not believe that its approval is needed before lechies are attached to utility poles, or if it otherwise does not plan to take action to prevent the attachment of lechis or to punish parties for doing so then Westhampton Beach should say so."

The brief also argues that under New York State Transportation Corporations Law they have the authority to grant use license to the East End Eruv Association.

A second lawsuit, which was filed by the against the Village of Westhampton Beach and claims the village discriminated against them, is also still in the courts. The association also has .

All memorandums filed to the court are attached this this article in PDF form.

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