By: Peter J. Gallagher (LinkedIn)
You know it’s “award season” – at least the legal world’s version of it – when your social media starts to fill up with posts that sound like this: “So honored to be included as one of the ‘Worlds Most Awesome Patent Lawyers’ with 43 other members of my firm.” The question for New Jersey lawyers is whether otherwise innocent humblebrags like this actually run afoul of our Rules of Professional Conduct. Somewhat surprisingly, most of these posts do.
Under RPC 7.1, lawyers cannot make false or misleading statements about their services. It used to be that any statements comparing one lawyer’s services to other lawyers’ services were deemed false and misleading. And since superlatives like “best,” “super,” “preeminent,” “distinguished,” “top,” “leading,” and “top-rated” are inherently comparative, this meant that no lawyer could advertise that they were included on a list of, for example, “New Jersey’s Best Lawyers.”
This changed about a decade ago when RPC 7.1 was amended to allow attorneys to advertise about winning comparative/superlative awards like this, but only if: “(i) the name of the comparing organization is stated, (ii) the basis for the comparison can be substantiated, and (iii) the communication includes the following disclaimer in a readily discernible manner: ‘No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.’”
Continue reading “So can I call myself a Super Lawyer or not? Either way, can I still wear my cape?”
by: Peter J. Gallagher (LinkedIn)
In what has become more and more common in recent years, a New Jersey court recently had to decide whether to allow a plaintiff to serve a defendant over Facebook rather than in person or through other more traditional means. In 252 Main NM, LLC v. John R. Heywang, Lauran Heywang, and American Express Centurion Bank, the trial court’s ruling was a mix of the old and the new. It held that plaintiff could serve defendant via Facebook, but that plaintiff also had to serve defendant via publication in a local newspaper.
In 252 Main, plaintiff sued defendant to foreclose on a tax lien. Plaintiff’s counsel attempted to locate defendant’s address so it could serve him with the complaint. Counsel performed an internet search for defendant’s address; arranged for a skip trace search; submitted an Open Records Act request for defendant’s voter registration records; and submitted an inquiry to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. All of these efforts yielded the same address in Teaneck, New Jersey. Defendant owned that property at one time, but lost it to foreclosure in June 2018 and was evicted in January 2019.
“Having exhausted traditional modes to locate defendant,” plaintiff’s counsel turned to social media. He located a Facebook account for defendant, which included pictures of defendant. The Facebook page indicated that defendant was from Teaneck and was living in Cancun. But defendant’s only post on the page was from January 2016.
Continue reading “Court Approves Service Of Complaint Through Facebook”
by: Peter J. Gallagher (LinkedIn)
Winter is right around the corner. Unfortunately, that means snow is also just around the corner. But it also means that its time for another case about someone allegedly being injured after slipping and falling in the snow. The facts of these slip and fall cases often read like law school exam questions. I have written about several of them in the past, from the relatively straightforward (Just In Time For Summer, A New Decision On When You Are Required To Clear Snow From Your Property) to the more unique (Shortcut Across Bank Parking Lot Leads To A Slip And Fall, But No Liability For The Bank) to the even more unique (New Jersey Court Answers The Burning Question: Can I Sue The Owner Of An Abandoned Church If I Slip And Fall On The Sidewalk Outside The Church?). A recent decision from the Appellate Division, Castellano v. Garrett Enterprises, LLC, is the latest in this long line of interesting slip and fall cases.
In Castellano, plaintiff was ordered to participate in a 48-hour Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program as part of the disposition of his second drunk-driving conviction. The program was held at a local church. It snowed in the days leading up to plaintiff’s attendance, including the night before. On the night of the program, while plaintiff was walking around the premises, he slipped and fell. He sued the church, among others.
The church moved for summary judgment on charitable immunity grounds. The trial court granted the motion and the Appellate Division affirmed, relying, among other things, on the Gospel according to Mark.
Continue reading “Plaintiff’s Slip And Fall Lawsuit Against Church Barred By Statute . . . And The Bible”
by: Peter J. Gallagher (LinkedIn)
I don’t usually write about personal jurisdiction because it is . . . well . . . a little boring. But I do enjoy creative legal arguments (including creative arguments about jurisdiction), so I am going to make an exception here.
The Third Circuit recently issued its decision in in Robinson v. Section 23 Property Owner’s Association, Inc., which is the latest in what appears to be a running battle between plaintiff and more than two dozen defendants arising out of the foreclosure of defendant’s mother’s home. The district court described the various lawsuits plaintiff filed as follows:
The subject of all of [plaintiff’s] cases, including this case, arises out of his residence at his mother’s home in Florida. Beginning with disputes over the enforcement of deed restrictions, such as parking and property maintenance, Plaintiff’s cases have evolved into claims against essentially every person or entity that has been involved either directly or indirectly in the ultimate foreclosure of the . . . house and his resulting eviction from the property. The main thrust of Plaintiff’s claims is that all the Defendants have conspired to illegally purchase his mother’s home and steal all of his personal and intellectual property inside. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have done so to quash his investigation of their international money laundering and fraud scheme.
If this sounds like a Florida-centric dispute, it is. None of the defendants had any meaningful connection to New Jersey, so they all moved to dismiss plaintiff’s lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction. In response, plaintiff made several, traditional jurisdictional arguments, including that defendants were subject to jurisdiction in New Jersey because his mother currently lived in New Jersey and because she had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey and listed the Florida property as an asset in her bankruptcy petition.
Continue reading “Third Circuit Answers The Question: Can a Texan Living In Georgia Sue Two Dozen Florida Defendants In New Jersey Federal Court?”
by: Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher) (LinkedIn)
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about a sign I saw at the beach, “Swimmers Only Between Flags.” It was a lighthearted post about the limitations of seemingly “plain” language. In Curto v. A County Place Condominium Association, the U.S. Circuit Court for the Third Circuit addressed a more serious issue involving swimming restrictions. Curto involved a challenge to a condo association’s policy of having gender-specific swimming hours at the community pool. The case presents an interesting intersection of discrimination — gender discrimination that was purportedly necessary to prevent religious discrimination. Read more about it below, and stay tuned because I am certain that the Curto decision will not be the last word on the issue.
In Curto, plaintiffs were residents of a condominium, A Country Place, which was governed by the defendant community association. A Country Place is a “55 and over,” age-restricted condominium located in Lakewood, New Jersey. As the Third Circuit noted, “Lakewood has a large and growing Orthodox Jewish population, and so does A Country Place.” Nearly two-thirds of defendant’s residents were Orthodox when the underlying events in Curto occurred. Defendant established single sex swimming hours for the community pool to accommodate “the Orthodox principle of tznius, or modesty, according to which it is improper for men and women to see each other in a state of undress – including bathing attire.”
Prior to 2016, defendant only had “a handful of sex-segregated swimming hours throughout the week.” But, “as the Orthodox membership at A Country Place increased, [defendant] increased the number of sex-segregated hours.” By 2016, over two-thirds of all swimming hours throughout the week were sex segregated.
Continue reading “Segregated Swimming Pool Not Allowed, Even When Purportedly Necessary To Prevent Discrimination”