Hogan Lovells Secures Pro Bono Victory for Domestic Violence Victim
01 April 2016
NEW YORK, 1 April 2016 – A team of Hogan Lovells lawyers successfully represented a domestic violence victim who was previously ordered to pay her husband, and abuser, more than US$283,000 in an international child custody dispute.
Partner Gary Serbin and senior associate Nicole Schiavo represented Lee Jen Fair (Lee) in the fee-award part of the case. Lee was a Malaysian national who left Singapore with her son in 2012, alleging that her husband, Abdullah Naghash Souratgar, abused her, including punching and kicking her and subjecting her to sexual assault.
In 2012, Souratgar petitioned in New York for the return of their son, and, after a nine-day hearing, Southern District Judge P. Kevin Castel concluded that Souratgar had made out a prima facie case under the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction for the return of their son.
The Second Circuit affirmed and the case went back to Judge Castel, who awarded Souratgar US$283,067, which was less than half of his requested amount.
Lee appealed the decision, and on 28 March 2016 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed and vacated the award, ruling that "because the respondent showed that the petitioner engaged in multiple, unilateral acts of intimate partner violence against her and that her removal of the child from the habitual country was related to that violence, and because there are no countervailing factors in the record in favor of the petitioner, such an award would be 'clearly inappropriate'."
The Hogan Lovells pro bono team also included junior associate Anjum Unwala, former associate Jordan Estes, and former of counsel Andrew Behrmam.
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