Thursday, January 21, 2016


Original Story:

A top doctor at NYU Medical Center turned the renowned hospital into his personal sex den, forcing another physician into trysts in an office and a lab by threatening her job, a new lawsuit charges. A Memphis sexual harassment lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Married Dr. David Zagzag, chief of NYU’s neuropathology division, became the direct supervisor of Harvard-educated Dr. Irina Mikolaenko in 2012, and immediately became obsessed with her, Manhattan court papers claim.

He allegedly whispered to Mikolaenko that he got an erection just by listening to her voicemails.

And he boasted that he wore his white lab coat only to hide his excitement, the documents allege.

Mikolaenko, who is also married with children, says she went along with Zagzag’s insatiable sexual appetite because she needed a paycheck due to “financial pressures at home,” according to the suit.

“Defendant Zagzag made it be known to plaintiff that if she did not have sex with [him], she would receive poor reviews and be terminated,” said Mikolaenko’s lawyers, Matthew Blit and Russell Moriarty, who filed suit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. A Texas employment lawyer represents clients in wrongful termination and retaliation claims.

Zagzag — whose wife is a registered nurse — repeatedly forced Mikolaenko to engage in sex, sometimes in her office, according to the suit. On one occasion, he lured Mikolaenko to the hospital’s lab for sex, knowing that the technicians had already left for the afternoon, the suit claims.

By June 2014, Mikolaenko had had enough and started pushing back, but Zagzag continued to lust after her “as if she was his property,” the court papers state.

The situation came to a head in early 2015, when Zagzag stormed into her office, blocked the door with a chair and threatened her with a poor performance review to the department chairman, the suit alleges. “If you want to have a good evaluation, we need to have sex so that I can feel better discussing you with the chair,” the papers claim Zagzag said.

Mikolaenko was fired a week later, after refusing to have sex with Zagzag, the documents say.

She is seeking an unspecified amount of money for emotional distress, panic attacks, depression, sleeplessness and paranoia. A Memphis wrongful termination attorney is following this story closely.

NYU issued a statement saying, “Dr. Irina Mikolaenko was terminated on Feb. 8, 2015, from NYU School of Medicine for misconduct and inappropriate behavior. We have fully investigated her claims, and have found there to be absolutely no truth or merit to her outlandish allegations. NYU . . . will vigorously support and defend Dr. Zagzag and the School of Medicine against her manufactured accusations.”

Zagzag’s wife — reached at the couple’s home in Rego Park, Queens — appeared clueless about her husband’s alleged shenanigans. Asked whether she was aware of the lawsuit, she replied, “No, he has not mentioned’’ it.

She also said she knew Mikolaenko’s name but added, “I don’t know her personally.’’

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Original Story:

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said Wednesday that it was served with a federal grand jury subpoena in connection with a criminal investigation tied to a norovirus incident at a Simi Valley restaurant.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Denver restaurant chain said the subpoena, which was served in December, requires it to produce a “broad range of documents” related to the Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley that experienced the “isolated” incident in August. A Denver criminal defense attorney is reviewing the details of this case.

The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration's office of criminal investigations.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email that the company does not discuss pending legal actions as a matter of policy, but that it would cooperate fully in the investigation.

Criminal inquiries related to food safety outbreaks are uncommon, but there has been increased attention on these issues and companies' responses to them, especially after the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in 2011. The measure focuses on preventing contamination.

“We're sort of in new territory here,” said Michael Roberts, executive director of the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy at UCLA. “I think we're seeing a new partnership between the FDA and prosecutors.” A Des Moines criminal lawyer is following this story closely.

In 2014, a federal jury convicted former Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell of knowingly shipping peanut butter contaminated with salmonella and covering up the evidence. Parnell was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a 2009 salmonella outbreak that was blamed for nine deaths and linked to the company's plant.

“The FDA ... sent a clear signal that it's going to use its criminal sections to focus on these food safety outbreaks,” Roberts said of the Peanut Corp. case. “It's not so much the outbreak itself, it's the response.”

Chipotle's sales have been rocked by E. coli outbreaks linked to Chipotle restaurants in several states. In November, the chain temporarily closed 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon after 22 cases were initially linked to some of its eateries. Those restaurants have since reopened.

A month later, 141 Boston College students were reported to have contracted norovirus from eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Brighton, Mass. This separate outbreak was specifically mentioned in the company's Wednesday SEC filing as worsening the “adverse financial and operating impacts” from the E. coli outbreak in October and November. A San Diego securities lawyer is experienced in securities fraud claims and SEC enforcement.

As of December, 53 people in nine states, including California, have been affected by one norovirus strain, and five people in three states were hit by another, according to the FDA.

Chipotle's December sales were down 30% from a year earlier, according to the SEC filing.

On Wednesday, shares of Chipotle sank $22.36, or nearly 5%, to $426.67.

Historically, Roberts said, companies have been able to rebound from food safety problems. Chains such as Jack in the Box and Taco Bell recovered from E. coli outbreaks related to food sold at their stores in the quarters and years after the event, according to an investors' note from Credit Suisse analyst Jason West.

“It's a different age where I think consumers are more sensitive to these issues or looking at them more closely,” Roberts said. “There's a growing societal interest in food.”