Filing Mistake May Derail $40 Million Lawsuit Over Death of Marcelo Lucero

Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was killed in a 2008 hate crime attack.
Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was killed in a 2008 hate crime attack.
Improperly filed paperwork may derail a $40 million lawsuit against Suffolk County for its alleged role in the 2008 hate-crime killing of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.

Joselo Lucero, the victim’s brother, will be holding a press conference about the legal action at noon today at 944 Federal Plaza in Central Islip.

Newsday’s Víctor Ramos reports on the apparent legal misstep:

A $40-million federal lawsuit against Suffolk County and its police department in connection with the 2008 killing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero may be in jeopardy because government officials were never officially notified of the legal action, according to court filings.

A process server hired by the Lucero estate’s attorney delivered the summons and complaint to the wrong place, according to a U.S. magistrate judge’s review.

County officials claimed in a February court filing that the Lucero attorneys never properly served notice of the lawsuit. That claim led to a review by Judge Gary R. Brown, who concluded in a May 16 report that the Lucero estate “has entirely failed” to meet the legal notification requirement.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard D. Wexler, who is overseeing the case, will review Brown’s report and determine whether the case ends or can proceed.

The lawsuit, filed in November 2010, claimed that the county and police department exhibited a “deliberately indifferent and unconstitutional failure” to provide equal protection for immigrants.

Lucero, 37, was attacked by a group of teenagers in Patchogue in November 2008. He was fatally stabbed by one of them in what law enforcement officials deemed a hate crime.

The victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero, said he is upset about the botched notification, but he doesn’t think that misstep should release officials from responding to the lawsuit.

“I believe that Suffolk County, and especially the police department, cannot hide behind a technicality or a simple mistake,” Lucero, 37, said. “They have to take responsibility for what happened with the immigrant community, and especially with my brother.”