Judge Shlomo Hagler’s Major 9/11 Botch in Suson vs. N.Y. Post Lawsuit

by Ground_zero on July 23, 2013

Being a Supreme Court Judge in New York City comes with great responsibility and even more so when reviewing cases involving the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center; a subject near and dear in the hearts of native New Yorkers. So, when the libel case of Gary Suson vs. The New York Post came across Judge Hagler’s desk, one might say he had an even larger responsibility than normal to rule correctly and read all the documents in the case. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

While deposition transcripts of New York Post reporters Cynthia R. Fagen, Murray Weiss and Stephanie Gaskell as well as Post Editor David Ian Boyle showed clearly that the NY Post knew full well that Gary Suson, 32, was the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighter’s Association (they had confirmed it in 2002 with the UFA and printed his title on two separate occasions), Suson in the end was unable to prove “Actual Malice” for the series of defamatory stories they ran on him in 2005. While what the NY Post wrote about Suson was clearly false and slanted, unless it could be proven that what they wrote was “known by them to be false” at the time they penned it, Suson had no chance to see real justice. However, adding insult to injury, in Judge Hagler’s 2008 ruling, he erroneously wrote in a Footnote that, “Plaintiff also has not come forward with any evidence that he donated a portion of the proceeds of his Museum, which opened September 2005, to the UFA’s charity through the submission of this round of motion practice on January 29, 2008.”

What the good Judge Shlomo Hagler failed to view in the supporting documents and take into account was an alarming letter written to Gary Suson by UFA Attorney Michael Block on November 16, 2006. In that letter, Attorney Block wrote, “As general counsel for the Uniformed Firefighter’s Association, we have been asked to return the enclosed checks that you sent to the Widow’s & Children’s Fund…They thought it best to return your donations.” Suson had been “caught in the middle of an internal struggle in the UFA” (Daily News) and it was clear that the UFA did not wish any proceeds from Ground Zero Museum Workshop or Gary Suson to go to its Widow’s & Children’s Fund yet Suson was shockingly admonished in Hagler’s decision for “not donating” to a fund that didn’t want any donations.

As a result of the UFA’s letter, Suson redirected his charitable donations to just over the Brooklyn Bridge, where the FDNY Foundation for the Children of Fallen Firefighters was quite happy to get support from the Ground Zero Museum Workshop and continues to receive donations to this day. Perhaps Judge Hagler should read all documents in a case regarding 9/11 so innocent people don’t get made out to look bad. Just a thought. As an aside, FDNY Firefighter Rudy Sanfilippo, the former union bigwig for the Uniformed Firefighter’s Association stated in depositions that he was very pleased with all the fundraising Suson did for the UFA and that he met or exceeded all of the expectations placed upon him. Suson, an Honorary Battalion Chief in the FDNY continues to run the Ground Zero Museum Workshop in NYC’s Meatpacking District, which was just ranked in the “Top 25 Museums in the USA” by Trip Advisor. Mr. Suson is currently unsalaried at GZMW.