Lawsuit against village of Lynbrook over bees seized by couple nears settlement

A couple from Lynbrook agreed to a tentative deal with the village four years after village authorities and police seized a beehive in their backyard.

Daryl Altman and his partner Robert Shepard had agreed to accept $ 50,000 in damages from the village, but now want the village to cover $ 75,000 in legal fees. The couple originally requested $ 2.5 million from the village and the right to raise bees in their suburban garden.

The couple have been battling with the village since police and a village beekeeper sucked up 20,000 bees and removed the hive while the couple were working in 2017. The bees were moved by a member of the Long Island Beekeepers Association in Queens County Farm Museum. .

The trial alleged trespass, unreasonable search and seizure rights and a violation of due process.

The village offered the couple $ 50,000 to settle the case in March. Although the couple accepted the offer, the case is pending on the issue of legal fees.

“The case went on much longer than expected,” Shepard said. “We decided to do this, but they offered a lot less than our legal fees.”

Officials in the village of Lynbrook declined to comment on Wednesday because the case has not been resolved.

Village officials said in court records that they received a complaint from a neighbor who lived directly behind the couple. The neighbor said bees from Shepard’s backyard were swarming near a children’s play set, court records show.

A Lynbrook home inspector asked to check the backyard and told the couple the beehive needed to be removed, court records show. Shepard’s attorney argued that the village code did not address “housing beneficial bees.”

The village seized the bees and the hive four days later, on June 26, 2017, citing it as an insect infestation covered by the village code under a search warrant signed by a village judge. Village officials said the infestation “would endanger the health, well-being and safety of residents of Lynbrook.” The code calls an infestation “the presence of insects, rodents, vermin or other pests.”

Shepard said her neighbors next door haven’t complained. He claimed that the property of the neighbor who complained was in fact infested with various hornets or insects.

Shepard, a retired Huntington town cashier, and his wife, an allergen and immunology doctor at Far Rockaway, launched the beehive in 2016 to increase pollinators and help the environment, he said. he declares.

He said the beehive created about 40 pounds of honey in the first year, which they gave to family, friends and neighbors.

“We were beekeepers and did a lot of research and decided that we would like to keep bees and we set up a successful hive for a year,” Shepard said. “It was a rewarding experience. We would open the windows on a summer morning or afternoon and the buzz made our kitchen feel alive. It was awesome.”

Shepard said the beehive was returned without the bees and that they kept it in their front yard as a memorial and a reminder of the actions of the village. He said they hadn’t had bees in their home since and were planning to move upstate where they could manage a beehive.

The case is pending in the United States Eastern District Court in New York and was assigned to a new judge last month.

Seized bees

  • 2017 – Lynbrook officials moved a beehive with 20,000 honey bees to the Queens County Farm Museum.
  • 2018 – $ 2.5 million lawsuit filed against the village.
  • 2021 – Settlement of $ 50,000 reached, $ 75,000 in litigation attorney fees.

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