Jane Greengold Stevens
Director, Special Litigation

Jane Greengold Stevens, Director of Litigation at New York Legal Assistance Group, has worked in civil legal services representing indigent clients in civil matters since 1969.  Since the mid-seventies she has specialized in class actions enforcing the rights of people with disabilities, public assistance recipients, students harmed by for-profit schools, and others denied benefits due to them under federal and state law.  She was Director of Litigation and then Deputy Project Director at South Brooklyn Legal Services for twelve years, leaving only when Congressional restrictions foreclosed Legal Services Corporation recipient offices from working on class actions.  She then co-taught the Federal Litigation Clinic at Brooklyn Law School while maintaining her class action caseload.  She has been at NYLAG since 2001, and became Director of Litigation in 2007.

In her years at NYLAG, Ms. Stevens has lead teams of lawyers in successful cases against various government agencies challenging delays in providing procedural and substantive benefits; violations of due process rights in the collection of alleged debts through income tax offsets by the State and federal government; failure of the Adult Protective Services program and of Managed Care Agencies to provide mandated care; failure of the New York City Housing Authority to adequately maintain their elevators; and many others.

Highlights of Ms. Stevens’ earlier career include her victory before the United States Supreme Court in 1974, vindicating the rights of “illegitimate” children to receive benefits on their fathers’ Social Security accounts; her role as lead plaintiff in a case resulting in a Second Circuit decision in 1982 finding the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit Authority in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for failing to make public transportation accessible to people with mobility impairments; and successful cases on behalf of people with mobility impairments against the New York City Board of Elections and the New York City Housing Authority.

Danielle Tarantolo
Associate Director, Special Litigation

Danielle Tarantolo joined NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit in May 2011.  Since that time, she has litigated complex class actions on behalf of low-income consumers, individuals with disabilities, recipients of public benefits, student loan borrowers, and others. In Bernhart v. Asta and Mayfield v. Asta, she and a team at NYLAG and Hughes Hubbard & Reed have represented a putative class of tens of thousands of New York City consumers victimized by unlawful debt collection lawsuits, and secured favorable legal decisions upholding the consumers’ right to be in court.  Danielle and other lawyers at NYLAG and Jenner & Block represent a class of students with disabilities at a New York City charter school in M.W. v. Achievement First.  Danielle has worked on successful Second Circuit appeals in Salazar v. Duncan, seeking relief for student borrowers from the U.S. Department of Education, and Shakhnes v. Proud, protecting Medicaid recipients’ fair hearing rights.  She has also helped negotiate settlements on behalf of disabled NYCHA residents and public assistance recipients, among others.

Before joining NYLAG, Danielle spent three years as an associate at Jenner & Block, where she was honored with the firm’s pro bono award for her outstanding work on behalf of indigent clients in immigration, discrimination, prisoners’ rights, criminal law, and other areas.  She also represented commercial clients in complex litigation matters including securities fraud and contract disputes.  Danielle clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.  She received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she received a prize for her Note on protecting the independent contractor workforce from discrimination, and her B.A. from Williams College.

Stewart Dearing
Staff Attorney, Special Litigation

Elizabeth Jois
Senior Staff Attorney, Special Litigation

Elizabeth Jois is a senior staff attorney in NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit. Among other projects, Elizabeth is currently working with a team of attorneys to represent a putative class of Medicaid homecare recipients whose hours of care were unlawfully reduced in Caballero et al v. Senior Health Partners et al. Elizabeth joined the Special Litigation Unit in December 2016, after 9 years as a health law attorney in NYLAG’s public benefits practice. Elizabeth began work as a staff attorney in NYLAG’s General Legal Services Unit in 2007, handling a variety of health law cases with a focus on individual representation in Medicaid and Medicare appeals. Elizabeth served as the Supervising Attorney for the Health Law Practice from 2014 until her transfer to the Special Litigation Unit. She also works closely with NYLAG’s elder abuse practice and acts as a core member of the Manhattan Enhanced Multidisciplinary Team on elder abuse.
Elizabeth graduated from Georgetown University in 2004 and Harvard Law School in 2007. During law school, Elizabeth was the Vice President of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where she represented victims of domestic violence in divorce and custody proceedings.

Thalia Julme
Staff Attorney, Special Litigation

Thalia Julme is a staff attorney in NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit, and has worked in the unit since April 2016. Thalia graduated from Brown University in 2007 and Columbia Law School in 2010. After law school, Thalia completed a domestic human rights fellowship at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. She then served as a Tax and Policy Researcher at Solutions for Progress, a software company that seeks to facilitate access to benefits for low income people. Prior to joining the Special Litigation Unit, Thalia served as a Staff Attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services’ Family Defense Practice, where she represented parents accused of abuse or neglect.

At NYLAG, Thalia is partof the teams of attorneys working on Caballero et al v. Senior Health Partners et al., M.W. v. Achievement First, et al., and Salazar et al. v. Duncan.

Michael Puleo
NYU Post-Grad. Fellow, Special Litigation

Julia Russell
Senior Staff Attorney, Special Litigation

Julia Russell is a Senior Staff Attorney in NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit.  Since Julia joined the Special Litigation Unit in October 2008, she has litigated complex class action cases on behalf of recipients of public assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid; public housing tenants; low-income consumers; and immigrants.  She has also negotiated settlements and government policy changes to benefit disabled NYCHA tenants and Section 8 recipients, individuals receiving services through the NYC Adult Protective Services Program, public assistance recipients with minor children, immigrants who qualify for Medicaid due to their PRUCOL status, and others.  Julia recently coordinated negotiations with the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the NY Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) which resulted in HRA and OTDA correcting major SNAP budgeting errors and issuing approximately $31 million in retroactive SNAP benefits to the 40,365 NYC households affected by these errors.  Julia is also an active member of citywide task forces regarding immigrant access to public benefits and Medicaid, and homeless shelter issues.

Before joining the Special Litigation Unit, Julia clerked for the Honorable Allyne R. Ross in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and represented low-income tenants in eviction proceedings and litigation regarding housing conditions and subsidies.  Previously, Julia worked on child welfare policy at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, researched routes of pesticide exposure among children of migrant farmworkers in eastern Washington State, and worked with community groups in Mexico and Peru.  Julia received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, her Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) from the University of Washington, and her B.A. from Harvard College.

Emma Walters
Paralegal, Special Litigation

Randal Wilhite
NYU Post-Grad. Fellow, Special Litigation