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Prosecutor seeks green light for state lawsuit against Niagara County

LOCKPORT – Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello, who already is pursuing a federal lawsuit against the county over alleged gender discrimination and harassment by District Attorney Michael J. Violante, is seeking to pursue the same claims in state court.

Donatello’s attorney, Andrew P. Fleming, filed an action in State Supreme Court Tuesday, asking for permission to file a late notice of claim against the county. Normally, such a notice, a mandatory legal preliminary to a state lawsuit against a local government, must be filed within 90 days of the act that gives rise to a claim.

Fleming’s motion says the late notice wouldn’t hurt the county, since he sent Violante a letter July 2, 2013, which laid out Donatello’s complaints against him. That led to an investigation within the District Attorney’s Office by the Buffalo law firm of Bond Schoeneck & King, which discounted all of Donatello’s allegations and serves as the cornerstone of the county’s defense in the federal case.

The effort to obtain a green light for a state court suit against the county has yet to be assigned to a judge for a hearing. The federal case is before U.S District Judge Richard J. Arcara.