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David B. Rankin




Tel: 212-277-5825

Joshua Moskovitz

David B. Rankin litigates catastrophic injury and death cases against the government, as well as class actions. He has been actively involved in numerous first amendment cases and in the defense of protesters and bystanders arrested at or around demonstrations. During the Republican National Convention in 2004, he helped lead the National Lawyers Guild’s legal response to unconstitutional police practices by organizing nearly 1,000 lawyers and legal workers. Over the last 15 years Mr. Rankin has represented hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Department of Correction, NYPD, the City of New York, and other municipalities around the country. Additionally, Mr. Rankin has lectured on policing issues at various law schools. Mr. Rankin received a B.A. from Reed College and a J.D. from New York Law School. While in law school, Mr. Rankin was an assistant to the past President of the ACLU. He is a member of the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. He is the proud father of Eva Lucia and Lucas Ignacio and is the happy husband to Alexandra Goncalves-Pena.


New York Law School  (J.D. 2005)


Reed College (B.A.1999)


Civil Rights & Discrimination
Wrongful Death
Freedom of Information

National Lawyers Guild

National Police Accountability Project

New York State Trial Lawyers Association

New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Bar Admissions 

New York


United States Court of Appeals:

- Second Circuit

United States District Court:

- Southern District

- Eastern District

- Northern District

- Western District

Continuing Legal Education Presentations
  • – Filming the Police: The First Amendment Retaliation Claim – January 24, 2017

  • New York County Lawyers’ Association – Depositions and Examinations – December 2, 2016

  • Federal Bar Counsel – Trial Ad. Training for Pro Bono Lawyers – Opening Statements CLE – May 5, 2016

  • New York County Lawyers’ Association – Protest Lawyering CLE – Jan. 22, 2013

  • Practicing Law Institute Speaker – Protest and the First Amendment, Bridge the Gap CLE – Aug. 16, 2012

  • Legal Aid Society Speaker – Civil Remedies for Criminal Defendants CLE – Oct. 3, 2011

Representative Cases


  • 9.25 million dollar jury verdict on November 15, 2023 in Cooper v. Clancy et al., 19-cv-00362 (NDNY). Mr. Cooper was beaten about the head and back causing a fatal asthma attack;  

  • 3.65 million dollar settlement on October 9, 2018 in Z. v. The City of New York (Kings Co. Sup. Ct.).  Mr. Z. was assaulted by members of the NYPD causing a post traumatic seizure disorder; 


  • 2.5 million dollar jury verdict on February 17, 2013 in Alla v. The City of New York, 11-cv-00892 (EDNY). Mr. Gad Alla was punched in the head by a police officer causing a mild traumatic brain injury; 


  • 2.25 million jury verdict finding Rockefeller University discriminated against Iranian scientist Dr. Effat Emamian based on her race and national origin. Emamian v. Rockefeller University, 07-cv-3919 (DAB) (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2018), remitted verdict aff'd, Nos. 19-127, 19-168, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 26261, at *26 (2d Cir. Aug. 19, 2020); 

  • 1.5 million dollar settlement for the family of Richard Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzales died at a Rikers Island Jail when the NYC Department of Correction failed to properly respond to a medical emergency.  Carlson v. The City of New York, 17-cv-00172 (SDNY); 


  • 1.5 million dollar settlement for the family of Carlos Mercado. Mr. Mercado died in Rikers Island Jail when the NYC Department of Correction refused to give him insulin. Mercado v. The City of New York, 14-cv-06775 (SDNY);


  • 1.4 million dollar settlement for the family of Christian Haley. Mr. Haley died while in the custody of the Department of Correction due to a sudden cardiac event. Fernandez v. The City of New York, 17-cv-02431 (SDNY);


  • 1.1 million dollar settlement for the Family of Shereese Francis. Ms. Francis, a mentally challenged, woman who was killed by NYPD Officers who responded before EMTs when her family called for emergency medical care. Francis v. The City of New York, 13-cv-0050 (EDNY);


  • 965,000 dollar settlement on behalf of 81 Critical Mass bicyclists arrested over the course of many months. Sheila Callaghan, et al. v. The City of New York, 07-cv-9611 (SDNY);



  • Obtained the partial unsealing of a government search warrant and supporting documents stemming from a federal inquiry into emails belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton from Judge Castel. 16-mc-00464-PKC In Re:Search Warrant issued on October 30, 2016 for access to email messages involving Hillary R. Clinton located on the Computer of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin Letter;

  • Obtained court-ordered re-training of Rikers Island Corrections Officers on how they relate to LGBTQ individuals they come in contact with.  Hamm v. City of New York, 15-cv-06238 (S.D.N.Y.);  and

  • David represents Reclaim The Records (, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization of historians, genealogists, journalists, and teachers, which is one of the largest open records activist groups in the United States. He has been their lead counsel on multiple Freedom of Information actions against the New York City Municipal Archives (DORIS), the New York City Clerk's Office, and the New York State Department of Health. As a result of this work, more than twenty million archival records from around the state have been able to go online for free public use.


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