Lucero lawsuit dismissal upheld by judge

August 21, 2012 by MATTHEW CHAYES / matthew.chayes@newsday.com

Joselo Lucero, brother of Marcelo Lucero, victim of

A federal judge Tuesday refused to reconsider his order to toss a $40-million civil rights lawsuit by the family of Marcelo Lucero, the Ecuadorean immigrant slain in 2008 in Patchogue during an attack by a pack of youths targeting Hispanics.

In Central Islip, U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler declined to reverse his decision in June to throw out the case against Suffolk County.

The process server hired by the Lucero estate's attorneys wrongly served a state court building, not the county clerk as required by law.

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An attorney for the estate, Frederick Brewington of Hempstead, said the decision is being appealed.

Wexler could have made a rare exception to extend the time limit but opted not to, citing "plaintiff's counsels' lawyers' lack of diligence."

Even though the plaintiff originally had other attorneys, the judge wrote, the new ones had "made no requests with respect to the then-pending motion to dismiss, and requested no relief with respect to the county," and then botched opportunities repeatedly, until it was "nearly one year after expiration of the statute of limitations, that counsel sought an extension of time in which to serve."

The attack against Lucero, 37, in November 2008 focused national attention on how immigrants are treated in Suffolk County. He was set upon by seven teenagers trawling the village for a Hispanic person to beat. The attacker who delivered the fatal wound, Jeffrey Conroy, now 21, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. The others are imprisoned on sentences ranging from 5 to 8 years.

The lawsuit, filed in 2010, claimed Lucero was slain because of the government's "indifferent and unconstitutional failure" to protect immigrants.

A separate suit against the teens and their families is pending in state court, records show.

Lucero's brother, Joselo Lucero, said Tuesday he was exploring how to continue the case despite the legal setback.

"Mistakes like this always happen. I don't know why they'd dismiss a high-profile case because of a simple mistake," he said. "We'd hoped the system works but obviously it's difficult to do the right thing."

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