Our Partner Russell Lichtenstein represents Levinson and Formica and argued the motion that resulted in their dismissal from the sex discrimination lawsuit against county prosecutor.

As seen in The Press of Atlantic City July 16, 2019 edition
by MICHELLE BRUNETTI POST Staff Writer

A judge on Friday dismissed Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and Freeholder Frank Formica from the lawsuit alleging discrimination against women by County Prosecutor Damon Tyner.

“The reason I was put in, in the first place, is I went to a rally at a church in Pleasantville in support of Damon Tyner,” said Levinson on Monday. “Not about whether he was guilty or innocent (of the charges of discrimination), but in support of him as a human being and what he has given to the community.”

Levinson credited Tyner with successfully bringing murder and drug charges against Linwood doctor James Kauffman, in the 2012 death of his wife April Kauffman. The case had gone cold under previous prosecutors.

Kauffman killed himself in prison.

The suit, filed in January by former Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, former Lt. Heather McManus and current Assistant Prosecutor Donna Fetzer, alleges gender discrimination, retaliation and other illicit behavior by the prosecutor and others in his office.

The attorney representing Levinson and Formica said Monday that Cumberland County Superior Court Judge James R. Swift found no merit to any of the claims against his clients, and dismissed the case against them with prejudice. That means the plaintiffs can’t file an amended claim to bring them back in, he said.

The case was moved to Cumberland County in March.

“It appears the plaintiffs were trying to silence County Executive Levinson and Freeholder Formica from speaking out in support of the fine job Damon Tyner has done,” said Russell Lichtenstein, a partner at Cooper Levenson.

Lawyers for the women released a written statement via email Monday afternoon.

“We believe that Dennis Levinson and Frank Formica engaged in actions that were retaliatory and that failed to protect these three women from discrimination,” said Michelle Douglass and Philip Burnham, the lawyers for the women. “New Jersey law makes clear that these actions can be the basis of a legal claim of discrimination even if the retaliation comes after an employee is no longer at her job.”

Tyner, whose office did not respond to a request for comment Monday, released a statement about the suit at the time it was filed.

“It is apparent that the plaintiffs are living in an alternative universe,” the statement said. “The very same conduct they accuse me and the members of my administration of committing was actually carried out by them and others during their brief, ineffective period of leadership of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.”

Levinson called his inclusion in the sex discrimination case “preposterous,” pointing out that he and the county have no say over who is appointed prosecutor, or how the office is run.

“As their lawyers should know … he is appointed by the governor,” Levinson said, and the prosecutor’s office operates independently.

Formica was named in the suit, according to Levinson, because his brother, Mario Formica, worked for the Prosecutor’s Office.

County Counsel Jim Ferguson estimated the inclusion of Levinson and Formica has already cost county taxpayers at least $20,000 in legal bills and expenses related to the case.

And the expenses will continue, Ferguson said, because the county itself is still named in the lawsuit.

“It’s an outrage. We don’t appoint, direct or hire anybody for that office,” Levinson said. “All we do is pay for it.”

He said the lawsuit will stretch out for quite some time, and cost the county taxpayers plenty.

“It is what it is. We have to live with it,” Levinson said.

The women allege in the suit that Tyner demoted high-ranking women while giving men raises, paid newly hired women at a lower rate than newly hired men, covered up complaints of gender discrimination and spoke in a derogatory fashion about women in general.

In addition to allegations of gender discrimination, the three women claim Tyner was involved in mortgage fraud, failed to investigate a claim that a police officer was leaking confidential information about the April Kauffman murder case and failed to tell defense counsel about the possible leak. They also accuse him of firing employees to hire his brother, and refusing to investigate after an assistant prosecutor exchanged advice via texts with a defendant in a pending domestic violence case.

Regarding Levinson and Formica, the lawsuit alleged they “refuse to look deeper at gender bias and systemically devalue plaintiffs, as women, in the workplace” and “have publicly announced their support of the male defendants even before this lawsuit was filed and even before all the facts were and/or have been disclosed.”

Contact: 609-272-7219 mpost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost

Can a Family Court Compel You to Vaccinate Your Child?

Largely eradicated illnesses have been making a comeback, like the recent measles outbreak in four New Jersey counties and in other States. Many blame the resurgence of these illnesses on so-called “anti-vaxxers” who choose not to vaccinate their children. Generally, New Jersey law provides protection for parents who, based on religious or medical reasons, choose not to vaccinate because parents have a fundamental Constitutional right to parent their children.

However, on June 10, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. J.B. and C.R. (“J.B. and C.R.”), made clear that a parent’s choice not to vaccinate is not absolute. Of course, as with many judicial decisions, this case begs as many questions as it answers.

In J.B. and C.R., the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCPP”—formerly DFYS) had care and custody of two children who had been removed from their parents. The Mother had objected to DCPP having the children vaccinated on grounds of “the Bible and the First Amendment” and “DNA and foreign protein in vaccines which are not healthy.”

After a hearing, including expert testimony from the children’s Board certified pediatrician, the trial court decided that DCPP could have the children vaccinated over the Mother’s objection. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed, noting that since a court can order necessary and appropriate medical care for an ill or injured child, that logic would extend to medical care to prevent illnesses. In its final paragraph, the Appellate Division stated: “[a] court of competent jurisdiction has the authority…to order necessary and appropriate medical care for an ill or injured child over the objection of the child’s parents…[w]e perceive no meaningful distinction between the power to order prophylactic medical care in the form of vaccinations…and medical treatment for diseases already contracted. Indeed, the child’s best interests are better served by preventing rather than treating disease.”

Despite the Court’s ruling, New Jersey Courts do not have carte blanche to order unvaccinated children vaccinated. For example, religious and medical exemptions still exist for parents who do not want to vaccinate their children but nonetheless send them to public school.

The circumstances surrounding J.B. and C.R. case involved DCPP, which had care and custody of the children, and that fact was a significant consideration in the Court’s decision. The real question now is how will family courts apply this decision in “normal cases” with typical custody disputes. The case will no doubt have far reaching consequences or benefits—depending on your view—beyond the DCPP sphere. Take for example two divorcing parents, one who wants a child vaccinated and the other who does not. If the matter is brought before a court and a Judge is called to rule, after a hearing with expert testimony from a physician, I see no reason a court could not rely on the decision in J.B. and C.R. to rule in favor of the pro-vaccine parent.

WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM CARE OPTIONS

If you think “nursing home” as soon as you hear long-term facility, that’s not surprising. However long-term care covers a range of options.  Long-term care is provided at home, in the community, or in a variety of types of facilities.  The options for long-term care span a continuum of care, and your choices may change as a parent or loved one loses mobility or chronic conditions gradually worsen.

Long-term care decisions don’t always involve a sudden crisis, and when you can, it is important to think about long-term care before a crisis occurs.

In many cases, long-term care starts at Home with family members, friends, volunteers, and often times paid home health-care aides providing the necessary care so that your loved one can remain in his or her home.  Short-term, skilled home health care is covered by Medicare; but, if Medicare is paying, it is just a short-term solution.

In addition, most areas have community services such as adult daycare, meal programs, senior centers and transportation that can be helpful as your parent remains at home. Adult daycare for example can provide a variety of health, social, and related support services in a protective setting during the day.

Independent or Retirement Living is best suited for retirees with relatively minor needs. These self-contained communities, sometimes situated in high rise complexes,  are generally light on care but offer many planned outing and activities.  Some include wellness centers on site.  The price can vary widely.

Assisted Living Facilities offer services such as medication management and limited personal care in a supervised setting.  Like independent/retirement living options, there is a real focus on activities. Also available at many assisted living facilities are personal care, housekeeping and prepared meals, often at additional cost.  The care in Assisted living facilities spans a continuum itself, and in many facilities additional care services can be provided as the need arises.

Nursing Homes provide medical and personal services beyond that available at assisted living facilities, with 24-hour supervision, assistance with activities of daily living and three daily meals usually standard.  Skilled-nursing is on-site to meet medical needs.  There is a large range of services available at different nursing homes, and it is important to match your needs with your nursing home choice.

By checking at Medicare.gov, you can learn more about each option, and newer options being offered, as well as Medicare’s coverage for each. LongTermCare.gov also has information and resources that can help with the difficult decisions involved in long-term care.

Bard L. Shober, Esq. is an attorney with Cooper Levenson’s Personal Injury Practice Group in Atlantic City, N.J. He concentrates primarily on medical malpractice and personal injury matters.

April 5 Deadline: Cooper Levenson Foundation Accepting Scholarship Applications

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -Cooper Levenson Foundation, Inc. is offering college scholarship grants to New Jersey high school seniors. Candidates must demonstrate academic excellence, active involvement as a volunteer, and financial need, and must be planning to enroll as a full-time student at an accredited two- or four-year university.

“We believe that investing in the education of the next generation is one of the best ways to insure the continuous improvement of a community,” said Lloyd D. Levenson, chief executive officer. “We’re pleased to be able to help high school seniors who demonstrate civic responsibility and academic achievement despite challenges. These are our leaders of tomorrow.”

The application requires sections to be completed by a teacher or school administrator and a volunteer coordinator, and letters of recommendation from each. Students also must furnish an official copy of their high school transcript, proof of SAT or ACT composite score, answers to two essay questions, a Student Aid Report (SAR) report, copy of the submitted Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a letter of eligibility for a Pell Grant, if applicable.

Scholarship applications are available through the link below. To be eligible for a scholarship award, applications must be hand delivered or mailed, and received before 5 p.m. on April 5, 2019 at Cooper Levenson Foundation Inc., attn: Donna Vecere, Director of Marketing, 1125 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, N.J. 08401. Email submissions will not be accepted.

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

2019 Cooper Levenson Scholarship Application

Cooper Levenson Welcomes Saleel V. Sabnis, Esquire to the Firm

CHERRY HILL, N.J. – Cooper Levenson is pleased to announce that attorney Saleel V. Sabnis has joined the firm. Sabnis will work in the firm’s Cherry Hill office, in the Defense Litigation Practice Group.

Sabnis comes to the firm from Goldberg Segalla’s Philadelphia office, where he concentrated primarily in professional liability and aviation litigation. He has significant experience at the trial court level in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Saleel’s background and knowledge in the areas of aviation litigation and professional liability are a great fit for our Defense Litigation Practice Group,” said Kenneth J. Calemmo, Jr., chief operating officer. “We are very happy to welcome him to the Cooper Levenson team.”

Sabnis has represented local doctors and attorneys sued in complex malpractice actions and taken cases to trial on numerous occasions in state and federal court in Pennsylvania. He has represented commercial airlines in a variety of matters and has also litigated general aviation claims. He has represented companies and individuals in contract and other business disputes and has prior experience in products liability and general personal injury matters.

Sabnis has authored articles in the American Bar Association Professional Liability Section Newsletter, including “The Settle and Sue Legal Malpractice Case,” “Attorney Ethics in the Age of Social Media,” and “Handling a Pro Se Plaintiff.”

Sabnis graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a B.A. in Biology in 2001, and from the Villanova University School of Law with a Juris Doctor in 2005. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Sabnis resides in Moorestown.

Cooper Levenson is a full service law firm since 1957, with 70 attorneys and offices in New Jersey, Delaware, Florida and Las Vegas. For  more information, visit www.cooperlevenson.com.

 

Ahoy there! Captain’s Table date is set for Feb. 28 at the Atlantic City Boat Show

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Southern Branch and member charity, Let Us Eat – Please, Inc., is once again hosting an evening of delightful food, designer cocktail tastings, and an extensive array of food and desserts at the Progressive Atlantic City Boat Show, held at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Thursday, February 28 from 6-9pm.  The event will include more than a dozen local outstanding chefs and restaurants, and is expected to draw hundreds of guests. Attendees will enjoy tastings of menu items from some of the area’s top restaurants and relax with a fine spirit, all while enjoying live entertainment.  Guests are also able to tour the convention floor to see all of this year’s newest boats, yachts and other watercrafts.  All proceeds will be equally shared by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Let Us Eat – Please, Inc., to support local hunger relief efforts. It’s a great way to indulge in a night of cruise-worthy celebration and give back to a wonderful cause.

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Southern Branch, is the state’s largest provider of donated foods to hundreds of partner charities. Let Us Eat -Please, Inc., is a summer feeding program designed to ensure that underprivileged children get enough to eat during the summer months while out of school. Both organizations heavily depend on the kindness and generosity of friends and supporters to help feed those in need. As the need for donations rises, these charities are seeking help from the community in order to continue their mission of making a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Tickets are $125 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information please contact Renate Taylor at Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Southern Branch, 609-383-8843 or . http://www.cfbnj.org/ or Ken Calemmo, Cooper Levenson, kcalemmo@cooperlevenson.com or 609.572.7500.

Find yourself in previous Captain’s Table photo albums here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Donna Vecere, Cooper Levenson, dvecere@cooperlevenson.com 609.572.7362 or 609.289.2446

Cooper Levenson Partner Carmelo T. Torraca to speak at the 2019 NJPMA Bed Bug Workshop

PRESS RELEASE

December 3, 2018

Cooper Levenson Partner Carmelo T. Torraca to speak at the 2019 NJPMA Bed Bug Workshop

Cooper Levenson Partner Carmelo T. Torraca will be a speaker at the New Jersey Pest Management Association’s Annual Bed Bug Workshop, which will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at the Radisson Hotel, 21 Kingsbridge Road, Piscataway, NJ.

Torraca’s session is entitled, “Walking the Tightrope – Risks and Exposures in Contracts.” The session will be a discussion of the tightrope every business person walks in the never-ending quest to bring in new business and protect themselves at the same time. Session attendees will examine a case that illustrates the risks and exposure that may lurk in corporate contracts. They will also discuss possible steps that can be taken as safeguards.

The day is filled with sessions focusing on the regulations and issues in pest management, treatment techniques and demonstrations, and culminating with the Bed Bug Inspector Exam for those with a 7A DEP license certification.

The registration fee for this workshop is $75.00 for NJPMA members and $140.00 for non-members. For more details and complete schedule, please visit www.njpma.com/2019-bed-bug-workshop.

Carmelo (Tony) Torraca, a partner of the firm, is a seasoned attorney with experience in the defense of catastrophic and significant injury litigation arising from passenger and commercial vehicle accidents, boating and marina accidents, construction defects and accidents, and more. Niche markets of focus include cyber liability insurance claims, negligent security cases, and pest management and bedbug liability defense.

Cooper Levenson is a full service law firm since 1957, with 70 attorneys and offices in New Jersey, Delaware, Florida and Las Vegas. For  more information, visit www.cooperlevenson.com.

 

Michael L. Salad and Jarad K. Stiles to speak on Sept. 25: Planned Giving Panel Discussion

September 25, 2018 8:00-10:00
Stockton’s Carnegie Center
35 S Martin Luther King Blvd
Atlantic City NJ 08401

Registration: www.acchamber.com/events/power-breakfast-panel 

$20.00/Chamber Members FREE

Michael L. Salad, Esq., LL.M.  (Moderator) Business & Tax and Cyber Risk Management, Partner, Cooper Levenson

Anthony Fraizer—Executive Director of the Community Foundation of South Jersey

Jarad K. Stiles, Esq., LL.M.Tax Law and Estate Planning & Administration, Attorney, Cooper Levenson

Theodore Joyce—Senior Manager in the Tax Advisory Group (TAG) of HBK CPAs and Consultants

Chris DeYoung (not pictured) President, DeYoung Financial Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Parents with TPS Can Take Steps to Protect the Welfare of Their U.S. Born Children

CONTACT: Cynthia N.  Grob, Esquire

About 200,000 Salvadorans will lose their temporary protective status (TPS) in the United States next year. That designation for individuals from Sudan, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras is also scheduled to expire.

Many of the parents who benefit from this immigration designation are now struggling to make plans for their U.S. born children.  While there are certainly legal strategies that parents can consult with immigration attorneys about in order to alter their immigration status or obtain legal status through other avenues, if parents are not eligible for those other forms of relief they need to make arrangements for their children who they may choose to have remain in the United States.   While there is an eighteen month window to the expiration of TPS for Salvadoran parents, they should begin the legal process of establishing who will be their U.S. born children’s legal guardians should they consider allowing the children to remain in the United States.

TPS holders can also consult with an immigration attorney about alternative Visas.  Some may qualify to obtain legal permanent residency through their personal ties to a U.S. citizen, such as a sibling or spouse; they can apply for asylum if they can establish a credible fear of harm should they be forced to return to their country of origin; or receive a U-Visa if they have been a victim of a crime in the U.S. and have assisted authorities in the incident’s investigation and prosecution.

For help investigating visa options and planning for parents with Temporary Protected Status and U.S. born children, contact author Cynthia N. Grob, Esq.