Sean Dalton to conduct School Bus Safety Programs for Local School Districts

Sean F. Dalton, Esq., of Cooper Levenson, will provide School Bus Safety presentations to school personnel in selected Atlantic and Burlington County School Districts this week and next.

NJSA 18A: 39-19.1a requires employers to administer a safety education program to school bus drivers and aides 2X a year. This seminar will provide training on the following mandated topics:

  • student management and discipline;
  • school bus accident and emergency procedures;
  • conducting school bus emergency exit drills;
  • loading and unloading procedures;
  • school bus stop loading zone safety;
  • inspecting the school vehicle for students left on board at the end of a route;
  • the use of a student’s education records, including the employee’s responsibility to ensure the privacy of the student and the student’s records;
  • working with police, suspicious activity training;
  • addressing needs of students with disabilities;
  • accident reporting.

This program is available to School Districts, Boards of Education, Transportation Companies and School Insurance funds.

Instructor: Sean F. Dalton, Esquire, Former Assistant Attorney General Former Gloucester County Prosecutor (2001-2017)
sdalton@cooperlevenson | Direct Dial: (609) 572-7452 |

Robert E. Salad Presents Southern New Jersey Development Council Award to Sam Pipitone, President of F&S Produce

At the SNJDC Achievement Awards Reception last Wednesday, October 2, Cooper Levenson President Robert E. Salad presented the Economic Impact Award to F&S Produce Inc. President Sam Pipitone in recognition of “their accomplishments in the agricultural business sector and significant investment in the purchase and retrofitting of the shuttered Progresso Soup facility in Vineland. This investment has engendered a renewed sense of optimism in the region while creating employment opportunities for residents and further strengthening South Jersey’s position as a nationally recognized site for food manufacturing.” For more information about F&S Produce’s achievements, please visit the link below. https://bit.ly/2nLfzB9

More event photos, courtesy of Stokes Creative Group, here.

Cooper Levenson’s Education Attorneys to speak at the New Jersey School Board Association’s (NJSBA) Workshop Oct. 22-23

Cooper Levenson attorneys William S. Donio, Amy Houck Elco, Kasi Gifford, and Camille McKnight will speak at the 2019 New Jersey School Board Association’ Workshop and Exposition, scheduled from Mon. Oct. 21 – Wed. Oct. 23 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. Donio and Gifford will also speak at the Legal Forum, be held on Thursday Oct. 24 at the same venue.

William S. Donio and Amy Houck Elco will speak on Tuesday Oct. 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 320 of the Atlantic City Convention Center. The session’s topic is “The Ins and Outs of Board Meetings. This session will explore what can, can’t, and shouldn’t be discussed in the public portion of your board meeting. With real world examples, the attorneys will discuss board member’ behavior, comments, and interactions with the public.

Kasi M. Gifford and Camille L. McKnight will speak at 2:00 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 23 in the Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office Learning Lab on the exhibit floor. This session is entitled “Let the Sunshine! Board Meetings After Kean and Wall.” This session will include a discussion of the Open Public Meetings Act, including the definition of adequate notice, when to send Rice notices, what public discussion of employees really means, and appropriate closed session discussions. The attorneys will also discuss the notice requirements applicable to superintendent and other administrative contracts.

Donio and Gifford will also present on Thursday Oct. 24 at Workshop 2019’s Fall School Law Forum, a day of sessions for attorneys and school district officials to explore the issues facing public school districts. Their session will cover the topic of cyber security.

Cooper Levenson, founded in 1957, is a full service law firm with 70 attorneys and New Jersey offices in Atlantic City and Cherry Hill. The firm also has offices in Bear, Del., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas, Nev., and New York, N.Y.

Register for Workshop 2019 here.

Ronald Lieberman to speak at Family Law Certification Exam Prep Course on Oct. 14 in New Brunswick, N.J.

Ronald G. Lieberman, a partner with Cooper Levenson, will speak at a Family Law Certification Exam Prep Course on Oct. 14 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, N.J.

This course is designed for attorneys who need a comprehensive understanding of New Jersey Family Law OR individual preparation for the Certification Exam. It is described as “providing a broad overview of matrimonial law for attorneys who are prepping for the Matrimonial Certification Exam or who want a comprehensive course review of family law. Presented in cooperation with AAML-NJ and several of their Fellows, the program will review subjects most likely to arise in family practice as set forth by the Board of Attorney Certification (“the practice of law dealing with all aspects of antenuptial and domestic relationships, divorce, annulments, alimony, child support, separate maintenance, child custody matters, equitable distribution, domestic violence, paternity and post-judgment matters”).

Lieberman will speak on Domestic Violence and Rules of Evidence and Trial Strategy. The speakers are attorneys are all certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as Matrimonial Law Attorneys. The full program agenda and speaker list can be found at: https://tcms.njsba.com/PersonifyEbusiness/Default.aspx?TabID=1699&productId=44594590

 

The Right to Choose a Defense Attorney in Litigation: Case Study

By: Brian D. Barr and Louis Niedelman

You own a business and have just received a Summons and Complaint naming your business as a defendant.  You are insured and you send these to your insurance agent to report the claim to your insurance carrier.

Such litigation is stressful and disruptive.  For corporate clients it often involves interviews with employees, production of records, and takes your employees away from their job.  How do you ensure that the defense attorney retained by your insurer to represent you will efficiently defend the company?

Once the insurance company retains defense counsel, the client is not guaranteed that it will ultimately be protected for any judgment in the underlying litigation.  There may be a reservation of rights letter or financial exposure beyond your insurance policy limits.

Unfortunately for policy holders, liability policies typically grant the insurer the right to control the defense, and do not grant a policyholder the right to select their own attorney.  If there is no policy provision giving you the right to select your attorney, it is the insurance company that assigns their own attorney, who then controls your litigation and your financial interests.

So how does a client get involved in selecting their own trusted defense attorney within  their business liability policy?  Generally, since any settlement monies come from the insurer, the insurer wants to control the defense, control the costs, and work with their own selected counsel.

When attempting to persuade the insurance carrier to use the law firm desired by you, the insured, you should argue that your personal law firm already knows the nature of your business, knows the company’s policies and procedures, knows the key principals and employees involved, and also knows the jurisdiction and judges likely to be involved in your case.  You can argue that defense costs will be reduced because of your law firm’s pre-existing  knowledge and familiarity with the client.  These are great arguments, but often are ignored by the insurance company.

How to Ensure Choice of Counsel

When you are renewing your business comprehensive general liability insurance policy, D&O coverage, or professional line coverage, you or your broker should request a “selection of counsel endorsement” for your  policies.  If granted, your law firm and the insurance carrier can then negotiate the terms of the retention, including the hourly rate to be paid.

And the best news is that it does not cost you any more premium dollars to include a “selection of counsel endorsement” in your policies.

The services of an experienced and well-informed insurance broker are vital in negotiating and procuring both the coverage and the “selection of counsel endorsement.”  Frequently, negotiation of these terms can take months, not weeks or days, and you should speak to your broker well before the expiration date of your current liability policies – and this also applies to your automobile, business and homeowners insurance policies.  You should advise your broker of your desire to use your own attorney as your defense counsel based on their knowledge of the company, its policies and procedures, and the cost-savings, removing the expensive learning curve for a new insurance-appointed counsel to learn about your company.  Your insurance broker or agent will be your best advocate for a “selection of counsel endorsement.”

Self-Insured Retention

Most insurance policies include a self-insured retention (SIR) or deductible.  This means that if there is a settlement or jury verdict rendered against you, the payment from dollar zero to your SIR limit will be payable by you before the insurance company must pay.  The higher the SIR or deductible, the more likely the insurance company will allow the insured to select defense counsel.  Frequently, the goal of the insurance company and the goal of the client are at odds.   An insurance company may want to dispose of the case quickly and cheaply, but you may have financial reasons to do otherwise.  Similarly, cases that threaten the company’s reputation or very existence provide a compelling reason for your choice of a defense attorney who is familiar with you and your business, and your specialized needs, and market niche.

Choosing counsel is even more important if the company conducts business in many states and requires coordination of discovery and the company’s “position” concerning particular issues.  A company would not want the deposition testimony of one of its employees to be used against the company in a case in another jurisdiction where there are different litigation tactics and strategies involved in these cases.

What to do?

Most insurance brokers and agents are very familiar with the “selection of counsel endorsements” and the benefits they provide to their clients.  Talk to your broker well before renewal dates of your liability insurance policies to express your concerns and to protect your personal and business interests. See case study below to illustrate:

Hypothetical Case Study

In this case, the client sold its manufacturing facility with all equipment to the purchaser as part of an Asset Purchase Agreement.  The selling entity continued to monitor the buyer’s production to ensure continuity of name brand and quality control for other client-related entities in the supply chain.  After the sale, there are multiple work-site injuries caused by the machinery on site.  As a result of these accidents occurring over a several year period, multiple bodily injury claims are filed against the client.

Because the client used different insurers over the course of its operations, the insurers retained separate defense counsel to represent the client in these individual cases.  Due to lack of communication between the insurer-retained counsel, there was no coordination of discovery.  As a result, one entity answers discovery that an employee who monitored the site for continuity of business purposes was an employee of the selling entity.  Because of this mischaracterization and inconsistent discovery, the client’s insurance company raised defenses for coverage of the claim.

Reservation of Rights

When initially retained, insurer-retained defense counsel defended the client under a Reservation of Rights because the insurance policy covered products liability claims, but not negligence claims.  Because of the admissions by insurer-retained defense counsel in one case that the “inspector” was an employee of the seller, the insurer resisted covering the claim due to this purported employee’s negligent safety inspection.

To make matters worse, insurer-retained defense counsel was unaware that the New Jersey Products Liabiity Act subsumed negligence claims into the Products Liability action and allowed the negligence count of the complaint to go forward.  This quandary could have been avoided if the client had a choice of counsel provision in their policy.  Your personal counsel could have answered discovery consistently, has a better understanding of the key personnel and issues in the case and is mindful towards the coverage issues raised by the insurer.   Wary of the coverage issues raised by the insurer, the attorney should have filed a motion for partial summary judgment to dismiss the negligence count, leaving the only remaining count in the case, i.e., products liability, covered by the policy of insurance.

Insurance Practices

Over the last several years insurers have become more aggressive with their reservation of rights letter demanding personal contribution by the insured when there are potential coverage issues.  If an insurance company can extract $200,000 from the insured on a $1,000,000 policy limit due to catastrophic losses, it is the insurer, not the client that benefits.  Selection of counsel protects the client from inconsistent legal positions taken in different matters or even jurisdictions, and ensures the client will be properly protected and defended in the case.

Nicholas Sansone to speak at the CLM Construction Conference in San Diego on Sept. 26

Nicholas Sansone, a partner with Cooper Levenson, will speak at the CLM Construction Conference, held Sept. 25 – 27, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, San Diego, Cal.

Sansone will serve as a panelist on September 26, 2019 2:30 PM at a session entitled “Litigation Impact from Changes During Course of Construction: Future of Defect Litigation.” Fellow panelists include Rose Hoyle, AXA XL; Terence Kadlec, Envista Forensics; and Ralph Woodard, Navigators. The session is described as:

“Communication between design professionals, construction crews, insurers, and product manufacturers varies from project to project. The level of communication may depend on the completeness of plans, dictated by the contract, or even the product of direct experience with differing construction methods.

Changes in the design or construction occur during construction as a result of value engineering, owner changes, site conditions, and other complications. Transparency between the design and construction teams hinges on communication. What happens when this transparency doesn’t occur? A design professional makes a minor change to a subgrade waterproofing system that alters the de-watering of a property without necessary changes to the means, methods, and products. What risk and liability are shifted to the contractor or product manufacturer? What happens when a subcontractor makes a small change to a wall footing for the betterment of construction and secures some but not all of the necessary approvals? Who then becomes responsible?

Regularly, there are issues when contractors take an incomplete set of design drawings and infers the designer’s intent. Did the contractor inherit these design elements?  Has the risk transferred? This session explores these examples and more from the perspective of the carrier, counsel, and expert.”

The CLM conference covers all aspects of insurance, risk, and claims management of the insurance related to the construction industry. In addition to addressing construction defects and other hot topics, conference sessions will address facets of construction site accidents/injuries, coverage issues, subcontractor issues, risk management, and new technologies. Sessions will address issues on the national, regional, and state levels. In addition to the interactive educational sessions, conference attendees will have many opportunities to network with other thought-leaders in the industry. Register at https://www.theclm.org/Event/ShowEventDescription/10113.

Cooper Levenson attorneys to present at NJCPA Atlantic Cape Chapter Briefing October 3

Topics include Modern Trust Design, Probate Litigation, Real Property Essentials for CPAs, and more

Tax attorneys from the Atlantic City and New York City  offices of Cooper Levenson will present a tax “Breakfast Briefing” on Thursday October 3, 2019 at the Linwood Country Club in Linwood, N.J.  Robert E. Salad, Joseph C. Mahon, Michael L. Salad, Steven D. Scherzer, and Erika Kelley will present and discuss the following topics:

Real Property Essentials for CPAs: Tenants in Common, Tenants by the Entirety, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship
Michael L. Salad, Esq., LL.M.

 The Nuts and Bolts of Probate Litigation
Steven D. Scherzer. Esq.  and Erika-Leigh Kelley, Esq.

Modern Trust Design: What CPAs Need to Know
Joseph C. Mahon, Esq., LL.M.

 Recent IRS Rulings and Pronouncements from the United States and New Jersey Tax Courts, as well as Legislative and Regulatory Changes in the Tax Law.
Robert E. Salad, Esq., LL.M.

Linwood Country Club
500 Shore Road
Linwood, NJ 08221

Breakfast & Registration 7:30 a.m.  

Seminar 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.  

Call 973.226.4494 or Register Here

Walk-ins Welcome

Cooper Levenson Announces Holiday Card Art Contest 2019 Edition

Download printable flyer here: Holiday Card Contest 2019
Cooper Levenson is proud to announce a Holiday Card Art Contest, open to students in grades 1 – 8. The prizes are a $50 gift card to the winning student (to use however they like), and a $100 gift card to the winning student’s art teacher, to be used for art supplies, a class party, or however the teacher and class decide. The rules:
  1. One (1) entry per student.
  2. Artwork must be submitted at 8-1/2? wide x 5-1/2? tall (landscape), with student information on back.  (Name,grade, school teacher and teacher email and phone number)
  3. Students in grades 1 – 8 may enter
  4. Theme: Home For The Holidays
  5. Entries will not be returned and will become the property of Cooper Levenson
  6. Hand-drawn art only! Crayons, paints, markers or pen and ink.

Judging Criteria: Relevance to theme – Originality – Creativity – Use of color – Use of space

Submissions must be received BEFORE 5 p.m. on November 1, 2019. Deliver to:
Cooper Levenson, Attorneys at Law
Donna Vecere, Director of Marketing
1125 Atlantic Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Questions? Call 609-572-7362 dvecere@cooperlevenson.com

Brittany Bonetti to speak at the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education 2019 Health Law Symposium on Oct. 4

The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program Expansion: Considerations for Practitioners and Health Care Institutions

Atlantic City, N.J. — Sept. 12, 2019 – Brittany A. Bonetti, an attorney in Cooper Levenson’s Health Law and Cannabis Law practice groups, will serve as a panelist at the 2019 Health Law Symposium at the Marriott Delta Hotel in Iselin, N.J. on Oct. 4. The program is part of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) and NJSBA Health Law Section’s Institutes & Conferences initiative. Bonetti’s presentation is entitled “The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program Expansion: Considerations for Practitioners and Health Care Institutions.”

The program’s description on the website includes “Health Law has undergone dramatic changes over the past decade. To keep abreast of the latest developments in this ever-evolving area, NJICLE’s 2019 Health Law Symposium features in-depth discussions on cutting-edge issues relating to case law, regulatory changes, insurance, licensing, consolidations, collections, cannabis, ethics and more.”

Bonetti is an associate in the Cooper Levenson’s Healthcare and Cannabis Law practice groups. She assists hospitals and health systems, medical staffs, individual physicians and physician groups in business and regulatory legal matters of all types, helping them navigate complicated healthcare regulations such as Stark, Fraud and Abuse, Anti-Kickback and state regulatory concerns. With a Masters in Public Health concentrating in health systems and policy, Bonetti has a particular interest in the intersection of public policy and law.  She was named a top attorney in Health Care law for 2018 by SJ Magazine. Program registration is at http://bit.ly/HealthLawSymposium.