On September 2, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated federal Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to the seat vacated by Judge Kiyo Matsumoto. If confirmed, Judge Reyes would be only the second Latino man seated on the Eastern District of New York.
Judge Ramon Reyes earned a B.S. in Public Affairs Management from Cornell University in 1988, where he was on the Dean’s List. In 1992, he graduated from Brooklyn Law School and earned an L.L.M. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1993. He served as Editor in Chief of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law and won First Place in the Nathan Burkan Memorial Writing Competition while in law school.
After earning his L.L.M. degree, Judge Reyes became a legislative attorney for the New York City Council. In 1994, he clerked for Hon. David Trager on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. After his clerkship, he joined the New York office of O’Melveny & Meyers LLP as a litigation associate. In 1998, Judge Reyes left the private sector and joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York as an Assistant United States Attorney and remained in that position until his elevation to the judiciary.
In 2006, Judge Reyes was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. As a Magistrate Judge, he has presided over 33 trials, including 15 jury trials. Notably, after Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, Judge Reyes and a colleague developed a case management system to resolve roughly 1,500 insurance cases under the National Flood Insurance Act and New York state law. By developing innovative mediation programs, he and his colleagues were able to resolve nearly all of the pending insurance cases sooner than expected. The following cases are representative of Judge Reyes’ judicial experience:
A former New York City Police officer sued New York City in Castro v. City of New York for retaliating against his participation in a class action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department. In his suit, he alleged that the city declined to hire him as a sanitation worker as a result of his participation in the earlier lawsuit. The jury awarded the plaintiff $73,000 in damages. In another lawsuit against New York City, Lewis v. City of New York, a plaintiff sued the city for excessive force and battery after he was violently arrested by a New York City Police officer. While in pursuit of the plaintiff, police officers allegedly chased him onto a roof, and one then pushed him off the roof. The plaintiff was left paraplegic as a result of the injuries he suffered from the fall. A jury found that the city was vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and awarded him more than $4 million in damages.
In a case that garnered media attention, Judge Reyes oversaw the prosecution of an Israeli rabbi who was charged with a misdemeanor assault after groping a sleeping passenger during a transatlantic flight. The defendant and the victim, a female member of the Israeli Army, were on a flight from Tel Aviv to New York City when the crime occurred. When the victim confronted the defendant about his actions on the flight, he claimed to have been asleep. She notified a flight attendant mid-air, and the defendant was arrested upon landing in New York. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 60 days in prison.
Multiple plaintiffs alleged wage and hour violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York, and New Jersey state law in Hernandez v. NJK Contr. Inc. The plaintiffs argued that their employer, a construction company, owed thousands in unpaid wages and overtime. After a four-day bench trial, Judge Reyes found the defendants liable for more than $400,000 in unpaid wages and over $400,000 in attorneys’ fees. In another Fair Labor Standard Act case, Artica v J.B. Custom Masonry & Concrete, Inc., over twenty plaintiffs filed suit against their employer for unpaid wages and retaliation. Following a jury trial, the plaintiffs were awarded several million dollars in unpaid wages and damages. After lengthy post-trial proceedings to enforce the jury’s verdict, the case eventually settled.
In Bauta v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., the plaintiffs sought damages for the injuries incurred as passengers of a Greyhound bus that collided with a truck. Cases arising from the same accident were earlier consolidated and brought in Pennsylvania, where the collision occurred, and a jury found that both the driver of the Greyhound bus and Greyhound as a company were separately liable for the injuries incurred by passengers. As a result, the plaintiff in this case requested summary judgement in his favor relying upon the jury’s finding in Pennsylvania, which was granted. A jury in the Eastern District of New York determined the plaintiff was owed over $1.5 million in damages from the Greyhound driver and nearly $1.5 million in damages from Greyhound. Several issues arose after the initial trial, but the parties ultimately settled.
Two iconic New York City restaurants – an Italian restaurant and a pizzeria that both claimed the name “Patsy’s” – vied for trademark rights in Patsy’s Italian Rest. Inc v Banas et al, a trademark infringement case. Both restaurants, created in the 1930s and 1940s claimed trademark over the named “Patsy’s” in advertising and food sales, including their vying Patsy’s branded sauces which caused consumer confusion in the 1990s. The case, which was tried by a jury, resulted in the cancellation of two of the plaintiff’s federal trademark registrations. Additionally, Judge Reyes prohibited the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from restoring one of the defendant’s trademark registrations. Both parties were barred from using the trademark “Patsy’s” solely in any advertising. Judge Reyes’s decision was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on appeal.
Professional Activities and Accolades
Judge Reyes taught at Brooklyn Law School from 2008 to 2017 and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Brooklyn Law School. He received the Diversity Leadership Award from Brooklyn Law School’s Latin American Law Student Association and Brooklyn Law School’s Alumnus of the Year Award in 2012. Judge Reyes also serves on the Board of Directors for the Federal Bar Association in the Eastern District of New York. In 2016, he was awarded the Jack B. Weinstein Mediation Settlement Award by the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of New York Chapter.
In 2005, the United States Department of the Army awarded him the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.