News & Events
News & Events
Partner Thomas Loikith Appointed to Montclair State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Advisory Council.
May 2, 2013
Partner Thomas Loikith has been appointed to the Montclair State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Advisory Council. The Advisory Council provides guidance, philanthropic support and advocates for the College’s programs with the related goal of ensuring alignment of the strategic plan of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with the broader vision of Montclair State University. Council members will be a part of ongoing communication of events and activities within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and general programs at the University.The Advisory Council is comprised of a founding group of 10-12 volunteers who give of their time, knowledge, resources, and experience to take a non-executive role in the activities of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Council includes individuals in a variety of professional fields including business, finance, law, marketing, technology, and education. Mr. Loikith graduated from Montclair State College in 1975 with a B.A. in Political Science. He taught in the Montclair State Legal Studies Program for 10 years and is a co-founder of the Montclair State Alumni in Law. He has also served as a member and co-chair of the Montclair State Paralegal Studies Advisory Committee.
Ken Foreman obtains defense verdict in Passaic County, Schaum v Greenblatt, PAS L 2320-11
May 1, 2013
A three day jury trial in Passaic County involving a 42 year old male with an alleged SLAP tear to the left shoulder resulted in a defense verdict based on plaintiff’s failure to meet his burden of proof of permanent injury. Liability was admitted and the case was tried on damages only. The dispute arose from an automobile accident. The defendant came off a highway ramp that required a right turn only. The defendant attempted to proceed straight, attempting to cross three lanes of traffic and in the process struck plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff did not complain of pain at the scene and drove himself home. Plaintiff began to experience left shoulder and left leg pain at home and went to the emergency room the next morning. He began treatment with a physiatrist two and half weeks later. An MRI revealed an alleged tear to the superior labrum of the left shoulder. Plaintiff underwent physical therapy for 18 months and also had two platlet rich plasma injections to the left shoulder. The defense argued that the ER exam of the shoulder was objectively normal. The first treatment record mentioned both shoulders, and the second and third visit records did not mention the left shoulder at all, but discussed neck and back complaints. The defense also argued that the location of the plasma injections was indicative of treatment for impingement and not a SLAP tear. On exam the defense doctor found an objectively normal exam. On review of the left shoulder MRI films, the defense doctor opined there was not a tear, but abnormal signals indicating degenerative changes to the superior labrum. The jury returned a unanimous verdict that the plaintiff did not suffer a permanent injury as a proximate cause of the motor vehicle accident.
Partner Thomas Elected Re-Elected President of Bergen County Bar Foundation
May 1, 2013
Partner Thomas Loikith was re-elected to a second 1-year term as president of the Bergen County Bar Foundation, effective on May 1, 2013. Mr. Loikith has been a trustee of the Bar Foundation since 2007, served as vice-president from 2010-2012, and was elected president in 2012. The Bar Foundation is the charitable and educational adjunct of the Bergen County Bar Association. The Bar Foundation sponsors an annual golf outing and awards dinner, named in memory of Harwood Lloyd founding partner Frank Lloyd, a former Bar Foundation president, to raise money for the Bar Foundation’s scholarship and grants programs. It also sponsors an annual school backpack drive to provide school supplies to Bergen County kids in need of assistance at the start of the school year, and a holiday toy drive to benefit Bergen County families. Last year, the Bar Foundation dedicated its annual toy drive to providing donations of cash and gift cards to assist Bergen County families impacted by the Hurricane Sandy and contributed to the restoration of the Bergen County Courthouse Child Care Center which was severely damaged by Sandy. The Bar Foundation also underwrites educational programs such as the annual Land Use Symposium offered by the Bergen County Bar Association’s Land Use Committee. The Bar Foundation’s website can be found at www.bcbfoundation.org.
Partner Thomas Loikith elected secretary of Bergen County Bar Association
April 18, 2013
At the Bergen County Bar Association’s annual meeting on April 18, partner Thomas Loikith was elected and sworn in as the Association’s secretary. Mr. Loikith has been a Trustee of the Association since 2008 and is currently co-chair of its Banking and Business Law Committee and Corporate Law Committee. Mr. Loikith is also currently president of the Bergen County Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) foundation that serves as the charitable and educational adjunct to the Association.
Partner Thomas Loikith to Speak at Seminar
March 22, 2013
Partner Thomas Loikith will be a speaker at a one-day seminar sponsored by the National Business Institute on the topic of “Limited Liability Companies”. Mr. Loikith will be a member of the faculty at the seminar to be given at the Doubletree By Hilton in Newark on June 20, 2013 from 8:30-4:40. For more information, please visit the National Business Institute website at www.NBI-SEMS.com.
Partner Jeanne Marino obtains defense verdict in Hudson County Law Division, Olivero-Pena v Gonzalez, HUD L 1160-10
February 5, 2013
Liability for this rear-end hit motor vehicle accident was stipulated; matter was tried on damages only with Plaintiff subject to the Verbal Threshold. The Hon. Lawrence Maron presided. Trial commenced on January 29, 2013. Plaintiff claimed a new cervical bulging disc, an aggravation of pre-existing thoracic and lumbar herniated discs and a nasal fracture necessitating surgery. Plaintiff’s orthopedic expert opined that the Plaintiff had a new, permanent orthopedic injury to his neck and an aggravation of his prior back injuries. Plaintiff’s ENT surgeon causally related the nose fracture to the motor vehicle accident and substantiated the need for reconstructive surgery. Defendant’s orthopedist countered with his finding of a normal physical examination and the lack of significance of a bulging disc. He also disputed the relationship of the nasal fracture to the car accident in the absence of any ER complaint and the lack of a confirming x-ray. Defendant’s expert neuro-radiologist examined the MRI films pre- and post-accident and concluded that no change was shown, thus attributing any findings to a pre-existing condition. Plaintiff, insured under a Special Policy, claimed economic loss of over $32,000.00 in unpaid medical bills. This amount was reduced to $26,000.00 for the jury’s consideration, in light of some of the supporting testimony. The 8 member jury was unanimous in finding that the Plaintiff failed to meet the verbal threshold. They also concluded that the Plaintiff was not entitled to recover any economic loss, rejecting the claim for medical bills.
ANDREW G. TOULAS attains favorable verdict in Bergen County Law Division, KO v. KOLODZIESKI, BER-L-5120-10
January 17, 2013
This case was tried on the issue of liability only before Judge Mark M. Russello in Bergen County on January 14, 15 and 17, 2013. On June 5, 2008, the Plaintiff was struck as a pedestrian by the Defendant’s vehicle while attempting to cross Springfield Avenue at its intersection with Passaic Street in New Providence, New Jersey. Plaintiff claimed that she crossed the street only after pressing the button for the pedestrian walk signal, which changed in her favor. Plaintiff acknowledged crossing near, but not inside, the available crosswalk. At the same time, the Defendant approached on Springfield Avenue in a left turn only lane, with her left directional activated, within the posted speed limit intending to turn left onto Passaic Avenue with the green turn arrow. As she approached, defendant testified that Plaintiff suddenly came out from the front of an SUV vehicle, which was in the lane to the right, and ran into the passenger side of Defendant’s vehicle. In addition to the testimony of the parties, the jury considered photographic evidence of the scene. A unanimous jury found that defendant was not negligent.
The 14th Annual Estate Planning Forum
October 23, 2012
Dave Repetto and Joe Scorese participated as members of a panel of distinguished trusts and estates experts in “The 14th Annual Estate Planning Forum,” which took place on October 23, 2012, presented by the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. Joe presented “Trapped on the Cliff! Strategies for Year-End Tax and Estate Planning,” in which he discussed planning ideas in the wake of the expiring tax cuts. Dave was a principal panelist with other expert attorneys for a presentation on the role of multi-party attorneys in complex estate litigation.
Ken Foreman obtains defense verdict, Morris v Gould, Passaic County October 3, 2012.
October 3, 2012
Plaintiff was a bus driver for New Jersey Transit, operating a bus in the scope and course of his employment. He was involved in a collision with the defendant on Skyline Drive in Ringwood. For trial, liability was admitted and the matter proceeded on damages only. Plaintiff was subject to the verbal threshold based on the election he had made on his personal automobile policy, despite the fact that he was operating a bus in the scope and course of his employment at the time of the accident. Defendant was operating an automobile. Plaintiff claimed permanent injury to his back and right hip as a result of the accident. Plaintiff called a general surgeon as his expert. The expert opined that based on her examination two years post- accident and the presence of spasm in both areas of the body, the plaintiff had a permanent injury. Defendant called an orthopedic surgeon and neurologist both of whom opined that plaintiff had a normal exam and exhibited no objective evidence of permanent injury. The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant that plaintiff did not suffer a permanent injury as a proximate result of the accident.
Choi v. Oak, et al, Docket No. A-537-11, 2012 WL 4120268 (N.J. Super. App. Div.)
September 20, 2012
On September 20, 2012, the Appellate Division affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Harwood Lloyd’s client, an attorney sued for legal malpractice. The client, who had been representing himself, came to Harwood Lloyd shortly before the trial date. The late Michael Oropollo argued the case at the trial level, before the Hon. Mark Russello, J.S.C. Partner Peter Mueller argued the appeal, assisted by Associate Eileen Kuzma. The Appellate Division agreed with Judge Russello that plaintiff’s failure to obtain and serve an affidavit of merit was fatal to his case, affirming the judgment in favor of Harwood Lloyd’s client.
Building Materials Corporation of America v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 424 N.J. Super. 448 (App. Div.), certif. denied, ___ N.J. ___
September 19, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court denied further review of a favorable judgment in favor of Harwood Lloyd’s client, National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA (“National Union”). The matter was tried in Middlesex County, by Harwood Lloyd partners, Peter Mueller and the late Michael Oropollo, and Kevin Szczepanski and Ben Zuffranieri of Buffalo’s Hodgson Russ, LLP. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award her client $64 million in insurance coverage and bad faith damages, but the jury found in National Union’s favor, returning a no cause verdict. The Appellate Division rejected plaintiff’s appeal last March, and on September 19, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for certification. Messrs. Mueller and Oropollo, and Harwood Lloyd Associate Eileen Kuzma assisted appellate counsel, Paula Carstensen and Barbara Michaelides of Chicago’s Bates Carey and Nicolaides, LLP, in all facets of the appellate process.
Joe Scorese is currently serving as an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey
September 1, 2012
September 1, 2012: RUTGERS LAW SCHOOL. Joe Scorese is currently serving as an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey, for the fall semester where he is teaching the 4-credit course in “Wills, Trusts and Estates” to second and third year law students.
Kenneth R. Foreman obtains defense verdict on the verbal threshold in Bergen County; Yoon v. Santaite and An, BER-L-1165-10, before Judge Russello
August 14, 2012
Five day trial involving a two vehicle collision in an intersection. Plaintiff was a passenger in defendant An’s vehicle. Defendants agreed to a liability split before trial. The trial proceeded on damages only. The plaintiff was subject to the verbal threshold. Plaintiff, a 20 year old female was 17 at the time of the accident. She alleged a disc herniation at the C5-6 level of the cervical spine. Plaintiff called three expert witness, an anesthesiologist; a neuroradiologist and an orthopedic surgeon. Each of plaintiff’s experts opined that the herniation was caused by the accident and that plaintiff was too young to have degenerative changes. Defendants called a neurologist and an orthopedic surgeon. Both doctors examined plaintiff and reviewed her MRI studies. Both defense experts agreed that plaintiff did not have a herniation but a bulging disc at C5-6 that showed early signs of degeneration. Both defense experts opined that the bulge was not causally related to the motor vehicle accident and that plaintiff did not have a permanent injury caused by the motor vehicle accident. Plaintiff did not have economic damages. The jury returned a defense verdict, voting 6-0 that plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury proximately caused by the motor vehicle accident.
Andrew G. Toulas has been selected by the Supreme Court of New Jersey for membership and service on the District Ethics Committee
August 9, 2012
Andrew G. Toulas has been selected by the Supreme Court of New Jersey for membership and service on the District Ethics Committee (IIB South Bergen County) for a four-year term beginning on September 1, 2012. Mr. Toulas will have investigative and hearing responsibilities over the attorney disciplinary system in New Jersey in hopes of ensuring that our state’s attorneys maintain the highest ethical standards of the legal profession.
Joe Scorese served as chair, facilitator and presenter in the New York University Summer Institute of Taxation.
July 25, 2012
Joe Scorese served as chair, facilitator and presenter in the New York University Summer Institute of Taxation on July 23-25, 2012 at the Westin Hotel and Conference Center in New York City. The program was “ Introduction to Trusts and Estates” and provided in-depth presentations about wealth transmission and the transfer tax system. In addition to moderating the conference, Joe presented a 90-minute program entitled “Multi-generational Planning and the Generation-skipping Transfer Tax. See Attachment
Kenneth R. Foreman obtains defense verdict in Passaic County; Mercedes v Barbour PAS L 2788-10
May 22, 2012
After a two week trial with testimony from four medical experts, a Passaic County jury made no award to Plaintiff, a 34 year old male and passenger in his girlfriend’s vehicle. Defendant made a left turn from a stop sign at a “T” intersection and struck the host vehicle. Based on these facts, liability was admitted. The host was insured with a Special Policy, and Plaintiff had no PIP coverage of his own. $43,000 in boardable medicals were put before the jury. Plaintiff was taken from the scene by ambulance to the ER. He then treated with a chiropractor for neck and back pain, radiating into the arms and right leg along the L5-S1 distribution, sciatic. There were also complaints of weakness and numbness, but deep tendon reflexes were normal through treatment. Two months later he began to complain of right shoulder pain. Three months post MVA he began to complain of right knee pain. Chiropractic treatment concluded in June of 2009. In July of 2009 plaintiff first sought treatment for the knee. Plaintiff had a torn medial meniscus and underwent a meniscectomy. The surgeon’s opinion was that neck complaints were from a pre-existing problem, the back exam was normal, and the shoulder was an aggravation of a pre-existing asymptomatic osteo-arthritic condition. The chiropractor never saw the ambulance report, ER records or the knee surgeon’s records. An MRI of the shoulder confirmed arthritis, the back had an L5-S1 HNP with degeneration. There was also facet hypertrophy at all levels of the lumbar spine. The neck MRI reported bulge at C3-4. The knee MRI reported the tear of the medial meniscus. Plaintiff’s surgeon reviewed the knee MRI. Plaintiff had no expert testimony on the neck, back, or shoulder MRIs. The defense focused on the lack of immediate knee complaints, disputing causality. Mr. Foreman argued that the remainder of Plaintiff’s claims should not be considered because his whole case lacked credibility- factually and medically. Mr. Foreman also argued that Plaintiff did not meet their burden of proof on the neck, back and shoulder claims because the Plaintiff’s testifying experts disagreed regarding symptoms, examination and causation. The jury found that the Plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the accident but gave no award. The jury accepted Defendant’s argument that, despite some temporary soft tissue injury to the neck, back and shoulder, the Plaintiff should not be awarded damages because he lacked credibility on the most significant alleged injury.
Andrew G. Toulas attains favorable verdict in Bergen County Superior Court, Law Division- Spatucci v. Breaks BER-L-643-10
May 10, 2012
After a two week trial involving issues of liability and damages wherein two plaintiffs, a husband and wife both seeking monetary damages for permanent personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision, a jury of eight unanimously found that defendant was not negligent in causing the accident. Judge Mark M. Russello presided over the trial which included testimony from both plaintiffs, their two medical experts, the defendant and her two medical experts. The accident giving rise to the lawsuit occurred in Atlantic City on January 26, 2008. Each party contended that he/she was the favored driver at the intersection of Atlantic and Pennsylvania Avenues. Photographs depicted significant damage to the vehicles.Both plaintiffs initially underwent conservative therapy for multiple disc herniations in the spine, and eventually both had multiple epidural injections performed under anesthesia and fluoroscopic guidance by a neurologist/pain management specialist. Defense medical experts opined that all findings on plaintiffs’ MRI studies were degenerative pre-dating the accident in dispute. The jury determined that the defendant driver was not negligent having adhered to New Jersey’s motor vehicle statute concerning a driver’s duties when travelling through an intersection governed by a traffic signal.
Partners Gregory J. Irwin and Stephen Wellinghorst successfully defend verdict of no cause of action in wrongful death case on appeal.- New Jersey Superior Court-Appellate Division –Lawyer v. Gastrich, et al, A-1159-10T1. May 4, 2012
May 4, 2012
This case arose out of a fatal motor vehicle-pedestrian accident that occurred at the Garden State Plaza Mall. The accident occurred when the deceased crossed a roadway at the Mall but failed to cross at an available cross walk. Partner Gregory J. Irwin represented the driver of the vehicle that struck the deceased and Partner Stephen Wellinghorst represented the owners and operators of the Mall at the trial and on appeal. The trial resulted in a jury verdict of no cause of action in favor of the defendants. The Appellate Division rejected the appeal of the plaintiff estate. It ruled that (1) there was ample evidence for the jury to decided that the deceased’s failure to cross the roadway at an authorized location was a greater factor in causing the accident than the defendant’s driver failure to see the deceased in time to avoid the accident; (2) the defendant driver’s demeanor at trial did not undermine the jury’s impartiality; (3) the trial judge did not err in excluding the testimony of plaintiff’s expert regarding the deceased’s state of mind because it was based on speculation; and (4) even if the trial judge committed error in allowing the Mall’s Director of Security to testify as to location of the crosswalks, which plaintiff argued was beyond his area of expertise, such an error did not have the capacity to taint the jury verdict. Associate Paul E. Kiel assisted in the preparation of the appellate brief on behalf of the driver and Associate Robert L. Delicate assisted in the preparation of the appellate brief on behalf of the Mall.
Partner Tom Loikith elected president of the Bergen County Bar Foundation.
May 1, 2012
Partner Tom Loikith was elected president of the Bergen County Bar Foundation for a term beginning on May 1. The Foundation is the charitable arm of the Bergen County Bar Association, consisting of attorneys and local non-lawyer professionals who volunteer their time to promote legal education to the citizens of Bergen County. Harwood Lloyd founding partner Frank Lloyd was instrumental in establishing the Foundation and the firm has had a continuing, active relationship with the Foundation since that time.
Andrew G. Toulas attains favorable verdict in Bergen County Superior Court, Law Division- Dominguez v. Fonti BER-L-9380-09
April 23, 2012
This automobile negligence personal injury action was tried before the Hon. Mark M. Russello and ultimately a jury of six in Bergen County from April 16, 2012 to April 23, 2012. The jury unanimously rendered a verdict of no cause of action in defendant’s favor finding that plaintiff failed to prove that he had sustained permanent injuries to his neck or back as required by New Jersey’s Verbal Threshold Statute. Liability was stipulated by defendant for causing a rear-end collision on May 18, 2009 in Wayne, NJ. The plaintiff, a 43 year old chef, did not return to his job where he had worked for 14 years allegedly due to pain caused by the accident. He alleged multiple spinal disc abnormalities including herniations and bulges resulting in radiculopathy, all confirmed by MRIs and EMGs. Plaintiff underwent multiple epidural injections after chiropractic treatment failed to improve his condition. The jury agreed with defendant’s medical experts who opined that plaintiff’s disc pathology pre-dated the accident in question, and did not objectively cause nerve damage as alleged.(WWW.JVRA.COM)
Andrew G. Toulas attains favorable verdict - Kim v. Cannone BER-L-6779-08
March 5, 2012
This personal injury action was tried before the Hon. Kenneth Slomienski and a jury of eight in Bergen County beginning on February 27, 2012 and concluding on March 5, 2012 with a verdict of no cause of action in defendant’s favor. Liability was stipulated against defendant for a rear-end hit in an automobile accident occurring on September 2, 2007. The plaintiff, 45 years old, allegedly sustained permanent injuries to her neck and back including disc herniations at C45 and C56, an annular tear at L45 resulting in radiculopathy and 6 epidural injections under anesthesia. The plaintiff had no complaints or injuries to her neck or back before the accident. The jury agreed with the 2 defense experts who opined that the injuries were not caused by the accident, and that the findings on the objective diagnostic tests (MRIS/EMGS) were degenerative in nature pre-existing the accident in dispute.
Kristine Denning, Partner, was honored at the 30th Annual Distinguished Citizens Dinner, hosted by the Ramapo College Foundation on March 3, 2012.
March 3, 2012
The Annual dinner recognizes outstanding citizens for their personal and professional commitments to advancing the goals of higher education, and for providing significant service to their communities. Past honorees have been found from major corporations, from the local community and distinguished alumni such as Kristine. Donations generated from the dinner are used to support student scholarships, faculty research opportunities and other College projects.
Andrew G. Toulas attains Defense Verdict in Bergen County; Zvanets v. Reyes, BER L 636-10
January 24, 2012
This personal injury automobile negligence action was tried before the Hon. Kenneth Slomienski of the Superior Court, Law Division, Bergen County, and a jury of eight beginning on January 17 and concluding on January 24, 2012. The jury rendered a verdict finding that plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury caused by a motor vehicle accident occurring on July 24, 2008 in Fair Lawn, NJ. Plaintiff was a 49 year old passenger in her husband's vehicle which was rear-ended. Liability was stipulated by defendant at the time of trial which proceeded on the issue of damages only. Plaintiff had no documented problems or complaints with respect to her neck or low back before the accident. She initially underwent conservative physical therapy for neck and back pain, and thereafter underwent MRIs which revealed disc herniations in the neck and low back. She was treated and examined by a neurologist who performed EMG tests which revealed radiculopathy in the neck and low back in the vicinity of the herniations. Ultimately, plaintiff underwent 5 epidural steroid injections under anesthesia. Plaintiff's testifying expert at trial confirmed that the disc abnormalities and radiculopathy were caused by the accident and permanent in nature. Defendant's two medical experts opined that the MRI findings showed injuries that were degenerative in nature pre-dating the accident in dispute, and any injuries suffered were not permanent. The jury agreed, finding that plaintiff did not prove her case.
Co-Managing Partner Dave Robertson obtains Defendant's Verdict in Union County; Jones and Cardwell v GEICO; UNN L 1879-09
January 18, 2012
This insurance contract action was tried before the Hon. Joseph Perfilio. The plaintiff owners of a 2003 GMC Avalanche, engaged to be married, contended that their vehicle was stolen sometime between 7-20-08 and 7-22-08. Plaintiff testified that he garaged his motorcycle at a friend's house and that he dropped off the Avalanche on 7-20-08 when he took his motorcycle. The Avalanche was found burning on 7-22-08. Plaintiffs made a claim against GEICO under the terms of their Policy. GEICO denied the claim. The defendant denied that the vehicle was stolen and alleged that the plaintiffs either created the loss or orchestrated the loss with others. The defendant supplied proof of an investigation which revealed that there was no evidence of tampering with the ignition and or forced entry. The defendant maintained that the male plaintiff, who indicated that he had lost one of the keys approximately one year earlier, provided a key at the time of the loss which testing revealed did not match the ignition. The defendant further contended that plaintiffs had financial difficulties, were often late on the automobile payments and, after refinancing the loan for the vehicle (with > 100,000 miles), the monthly payments exceeded $728. The defendant counterclaimed under the NJ Fraud Prevention Act, seeking attorneys fees and costs. The jury rejected Plaintiffs claims and found for the Defendant on the counterclaim.
John McDermott obtains Defense Verdict in Passaic County; Bena v. Hernandez, et. al. PAS-L-5359-09
January 11, 2012
This automobile negligence case was tried before the Hon. Anthony J. Graziano of the Superior Court, Law Division, over three days. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that the plaintiff's negligence was the primary cause of the accident. Plaintiff alleged that she was driving when Defendant entered her lane of travel from a parked position without signal or warning thereby causing impact between the two vehicles. Plaintiff, 27 years old, alleged TMJ dysfunction, a cervical herniation, a lumbar bulge and radiculopathy in her left lower extremity. Plaintiff, her treating chiropractor and the radiologist all provided testimony. Plaintiff’s experts opined that permanent injuries were sustained and proximately caused by the accident. Defendant’s testimony refuted the claims of negligence. Defendant also presented two medical experts who disputed the findings of permanency and causation to the accident. After a short deliberation the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense as to liability, never even reaching the verbal threshold issue.
Associate Andrew G. Toulas Judges Mock Trial Competition
January 4, 2012
On January 4, 2012, associate Andrew G. Toulas volunteered as a judge in the 2011-2012 Vincent J. Apruzzese High School Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation. The competition took place at the Bergen County Courthouse, Hackensack, New Jersey. It provided students access to a real courtroom setting. The students gained firsthand, practical experience in the workings of a trial, conducting opening and closing statements, and examining witnesses. Mr. Toulas presided over the trial, ruling on the participants' objections, determining the winning party using a detailed scoring system established by State Bar Foundation, and providing qualitative evaluation of both teams.
Andrew Toulas obtains Defense Verdict in Passaic County; Norman v Grucela, PAS L 655-10
December 22, 2011
This automobile negligence case was tried before the Hon. Thomas LaConte of the Superior Court, Law Division, starting on December 8 and concluding on December 21, 2011 when the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that the plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury proximately caused by the motor vehicle accident of September 2, 2004. Plaintiff was stopped, waiting to enter Route 46 in Clifton, when his vehicle was rear-ended by the defendant. The Court directed a verdict on plaintiff's motion in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of liability. Regarding damages, plaintiff, a 54 year old telemarketer, alleged cervical herniations and a labral tear of the left shoulder, both with recommendations of surgery. Plaintiff underwent shoulder injections, but did not have any surgery. Plaintiff was involved in a subsequent accident two years later, also a rear-end hit, and claimed an aggravation of the prior injuries. The two lawsuits were consolidated. Plaintiff presented four medical experts at trial, all via videotape, who opined as to the permanent injuries proximately caused by the 2004 accident, and aggravated by the 2006 accident. Defendant’s three medical experts disputed any permanent injury caused by the 2004 accident, noting the evidence of degeneration pre-dating the accident as shown on the MRI films. The jury agreed, finding that the plaintiff failed to prove his case.
Co-Managing Partner Dave Robertson obtains defense verdict in Bergen County; Beltran v GEICO, BER L 3136-10
December 12, 2011
This insurance contract action was tried before the Hon. Estella De La Cruz over five days. Plaintiff, the lease holder of an Infinity and owner of a financed Honda, insured with the Defendant, contended that the cars were stolen from her driveway in the overnight hours. Plaintiff sought coverage pursuant to her policy with GEICO. The Defendant denied the claim, asserted that the Plaintiff failed to establish that the vehicles were stolen, and also asserted that the Plaintiff made material misrepresentations during the claims process. GEICO contended that these thefts did not occur, but instead, the circumstances suggested an "owner give up" associated with Plaintiff's financial difficulties. The Defendant established that the Plaintiff was chronically late with the payments on the Honda, that she had attempted to return the Infinity to the dealer but could not do so unless she paid $11,000 to the dealer, which she could not afford, and that generally, there was no more than a de minimus balance in the plaintiff's savings account. The cars were both equipped with transponders; an iginition key with a computer chip that matched the car was required for operation. The Defendant maintained that the jury should also consider that the Plaintiff could not account for one of the keys to each vehicle; one vehicle was found with the key inside; and, the other vehicle was photographed traveling through an E-Z pass lane. The Defendant contended that in view of all of the evidence, it was clear that thieves had not taken the cars with a flatbed truck. The jury agreed that the Plaintiff did not establish that the vehicles were stolen and entered a defense verdict.
Partner Greg Irwin obtains defense verdict in Sussex County; Occhfinto v Star Building, et al, SSX L 70-07
November 16, 2011
This construction defect case was tried before the Hon. Edward V. Gannon over twelve days in November. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, concrete installer, finding that although this defendant was negligent, that negligence was not a proximate cause of the warehouse collapse. Plaintiff, the owner of a newly constructed warehouse, claimed almost $5 million in damages. Codefendant manufacturer and architect settled out prior to trial. At trial the plaintiff tried to focus the jury's attention on the claim against the concrete sub-contractor, for failing to provide reinforced concrete. Defendant was able to defeat the claim by pointing out the claims made against the settling defendants, as well as the plaintiff's own comparative negligence in acting as the general contractor. The jury determined that the plaintiff was 50% comparatively at fault, and the two settling codefendants each 25% at fault
Ken Foreman obtains Defense verdict in Passaic County; Berry v. Danzinger, PAS-L-904-09.
November 14, 2011
This automobile negligence case was tried before the Hon. Thomas LaConte, of the Superior Court, Law Division, Passaic County during the week of November 14, 2011. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant finding that plaintiff did not suffer a permanent injury proximately caused by the motor vehicle accident of March 9, 2007. Plaintiff was southbound on Route 287 in Mahwah traveling at approximately 65 mph when struck from behind by the defendant traveling at a high rate of speed. As a result of the collision Plaintiff’s vehicle left the road and collided with the median barrier. His vehicle sustained extensive front and rear damage and was not drivable from the scene. Plaintiff, a 43 year old flooring installer, alleged that he had suffered a herniated disc at C4-5 that contacted the ventral aspect of the spinal cord and a disc herniation at C6-7. Plaintiff also alleged that he was unable to continue as a flooring installer and became an estimator following the accident. Plaintiff called as expert witnesses his treating chiropractor and a board certified neuro-radiologist. Defendant admitted liability but denied causing a permanent injury. Defendant’s expert, a board certified neurologist, in addition to his exam and record review, also reviewed the MRI study of plaintiff’s cervical spine. The jury agreed that despite the findings of abnormality in the cervical spine, plaintiff had failed to establish proximate cause because there was no objective evidence of permanent injury on clinical exam by plaintiff's treating doctors or the defense's independent medical exam.
ANDREW G. TOULAS GUEST SPEAKER AT WAYNE, NJ ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
October 21, 2011
On October 21, 2011 Mr. Toulas spoke to Mrs. Ostermann's class at Theunis Dey Elementary School in Wayne, New Jersey about the fundamentals of our nation's legal system and the trial by jury process. The students participated in a mock civil jury trial taking on the role of jurors, witnesses, litigants and bailiff. The students were also informed of basic concepts involving attorney ethics, distinctions between our civil and criminal justice system, and were shown tools of the trade. The student's participation was impressive. The school was most appreciative of Mr. Toulas' efforts.
Bergen County Bar Foundation Presents the 2011 Community Service Award to Co-Managing Partner David M. Repetto.
September 19, 2011
On September 19, 2011, the Bergen County Bar Foundation presented its 2011 Community Service Award to co-managing partner David M. Repetto. The award was presented at the Foundation’s annual Frank V.D. Lloyd Memorial Golf Outing and Awards Dinner held at Apple Ridge Country Club in Mahwah, New Jersey.
The Community Service Award is given each year to a Bergen County attorney who has performed exemplary voluntary service to the Bergen County community.
Dave received the award based on his nearly 30 years of service to the people of Bergen County. That service includes:
- General Counsel to the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (2008-present)
- Counsel to the Northwest Bergen Central Dispatch (2008-present)
- Counsel to Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts of America (2009-present)
- Member, Board of Governors, Ramapo College of New Jersey (2007 - present)
- Member, Historic Preservation Commission, Borough of Upper Saddle River (2008 to present)
- Secretary, Board of Trustees, Children's Aid and Family Services (2007-2010)
- Member, Board of Trustees, Children's Aid and Family Services (2005-2010)
- Member, Board of Education, Borough of Upper Saddle River (2007-2008)
- Member, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Borough of Upper Saddle River (2000-2004)
- Councilman, Village of Ridgewood (1986-1990)
- Treasurer, Board of Trustees, Ridgewood Public Library (1983-1984)
- Member, Board of Trustees, Ridgewood Public Library (1980-1984)
- Lecturer for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education on the subject of Probate and Fiduciary Litigation.
- Chairman of the Bergen County District Fee Arbitration Committee.
- Member of the District II-A Ethics Committee.
The Foundation’s annual golf outing and awards dinner was named in memory of Harwood Lloyd founding partner Frank V.D. Lloyd, who passed away in 2007. Frank was instrumental in establishing and running the Bergen County Bar Foundation for many years. Frank also established a tradition of community service at Harwood Lloyd and it is fitting that Dave received the 2011 Community Service Award at the dinner named in honor of Frank.
Curt Turpan speaks at ICNJ seminar on proposed new PIP regulations.
August 19, 2011
Curt Turpan, a Partner in Harwood Lloyd's Insurance Defense Department and the head of the firm's No Fault/PIP department, spoke at a conference held by the Insurance Council of New Jersey entitled "The Changing PIP Landscape in New Jersey." Mr. Turpan lectured on the impact of new PIP regulations proposed by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance on both a PIP carrier's duties and operations, as well as the subsequent arbitration of PIP claims. Conference attendees included over 200 representatives of insurance carriers and PIP vendors, as well as many attorneys. The PowerPoint that Mr. Turpan presented at the conference can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
Mr. Turpan is a recognized expert in the field of PIP and automobile coverage litigation. He is one of only three defense attorneys serving on the 14 member Forthright Advisory Council for No-Fault Disputes in the State of New Jersey. Mr. Turpan represents and provides counsel to many insurance companies and PIP vendors in New Jersey including Allstate, New Jersey Manufacturers, GEICO, American Commerce Insurance, Amica, Avis/Budget Group, Mercury, Global Liberty Insurance, Concentra Inc. and Auto Injury Solutions. He has appeared before the Appellate Division on numerous occasions and represented the prevailing party in several significant reported cases including Seaview Orthopedics v. NHR, et.al., (upholding a PIP carrier's right to utilize PPO agreements), and Montemayor v. Signorelli, (holding that the tort threshold selected by the named insured applied to the insured's resident children who do not own their own automobile even if the child was an emancipated adult.) He is also a member of the New Jersey Defense Association, the Bergen County Bar Association, the North Jersey Claims Association, the Central Jersey Claims Association and the South Jersey Claims Association.
Evelyn Storch Attends American Bar Association Annual Meeting In Toronto.
August 2, 2011
The ABA Annual Meeting was held this year in Toronto, Ontario. Participants heard addresses by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin. Chief Justice McLaughlin discussed the similarities between our two countries and the need to continue working together to improve our respective justice systems and the lives of our citizens generally. Justice Breyer delivered a rousing call to arms to educate the public on civics. He blamed the current damaged public discourse on the population’s lack of education on their rights and responsibilities as citizens and on the beauty of the Constitution.
Outgoing ABA President, Stephen N. Zack, addressed the assembly on civility in the law and in life. In Canada, he pointed out, the oath lawyers take includes the obligation of civility, but that is not the case in the U.S. President Zack encouraged each of us to commit to being a force for change toward greater civility in our profession, in our courts, in our politics, and in our communities.
Partner Tom Loikith was re-elected as vice president of the Bergen County Bar Foundation.
August 1, 2011
Partner Tom Loikith was re-elected as vice president of the Bergen County Bar Foundation. The Foundation is the charitable arm of the Bergen County Bar Association, consisting of attorneys and local non-lawyer professionals who volunteer their time to promote legal education to the citizens of Bergen County. Harwood Lloyd founding partner Frank Lloyd was instrumental in establishing the Foundation and the firm has had a continuing, active relationship with the Foundation since that time.
Andrew G. Toulas becomes a member of the Employment Law Committee of the New Jersey Defense Association.
Associate Andrew G. Toulas has become a member of the Employment Law Committee of the New Jersey Defense Association. Mr. Toulas, an active member of the NJDA, and Certifed Civil trial Attorney, practices in the area of insurance defense, as well as defense of employers in various employment claims, including harassment.
John W. McDermott successfully defends “zero threshold”.
John W. McDermott — June 28, 2011
Associate John W. McDermott successfully defended “zero threshold” at a jury trial before Judge Harz in Bergen County. The plaintiff claimed neck and back injuries from a motor vehicle accident, and underwent orthopedic and physical therapy treatment under the direction of Michael C. DiStefano, M.D. Dr. DiStefano testified for the plaintiff; Edward Friedland, M.D. testified for the defense. The jury decided that while the plaintiff had sustained an injury as a result of the accident, the injury was not worth anything. Judge Harz, finding this verdict to be inconsistent with the law, sent the jury back to reconsider its decision. The jury then returned with a verdict of $3,500.00. The de minimus verdict did not warrant filing an appeal.