The Edison Blog: Edison, New Jersey

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Edison & the law


Legal disputes involving Edison Township and its schools

Last updated: May 21, 2011

The Edison Blog presents a list of past and present cases involving or relating to Edison Township and its schools.  This list will be updated periodically when we learn of new cases, or new developments in these cases, so check back to stay in the know!

2011

51. The Edison firefighters’ union filed a federal lawsuit against Edison Township, Mayor Antonia Ricigliano, Dennis Gonzalez, Richard Laird, and Bill Stephens.  The suit was filed May 12 and was assigned docket number 11-cv-2734.  Judge William Martini has been assigned the case.  A copy of the complaint is here.  Basically, the suit claims that due to long-lingering resentment by Stephens and his supporters against the firefighters’ union, dating back to the 2005 mayoral campaign, the union has suffered retaliation.  Bradley Parsons of Iselin is the attorney for the union.

50. On May 9, 2011, Michael Rebeck filed a federal lawsuit against Edison Township, Police Chief Thomas Bryant, and officers Scot Scofield, Christopher Sorber, Joe Kenny, Domenic DeCarlo, and Shawn Mead.  The suit has been assigned docket number 11-cv-2649.  Judge Katherine Hayden is the assigned judge.  The suit claims that Rebeck, in the course of being arrested for an alleged robbery on May 11, 2010, had excessive force used against him by several Edison officers and a police dog.  Lennox Hinds of Somerset represents the plaintiff.

Related Content: MICHAEL REBECK v. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, No. MID-L-1599-11.  On February 25, Michael Rebeck, represented by Lennox Hinds of Somerset, filed suit against the Township and six officers.  The exact nature of the case is unknown.  Related to the Rebeck case is a federal grand jury investigation.  A subpoena issued by the grand jury, which asks for records relating to Rebeck, can be found here.

49. The Star-Ledger reported on March 29, 2011 that former mayoral aide Anthony Russomanno has filed suit claiming he was illegally fired.  Coverage is here and hereThomas Jardim, Esq. of Morristown represents Russomanno.

48. THOMAS BRYAN v. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, ANTONIA RICIGLIANO and DENNIS GONZALEZ, No. MID-L-2336-11.  After being suspended on a variety of charges, Edison police chief Thomas Bryan filed suit against the township on March 25, 2011.  A hearing has been scheduled for 2:30 on Monday April 4 before the county assignment judge, Hon. Travis Francis.  Additional coverage here and here.  Initially suspended without pay pending an April 15 hearing, Bryan’s suspension was changed to a paid one.  Bryan is represented by Raquel Lord, Esq. of Morristown.

47. JI v. EDISON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION, No. MID-L-1637-11.  Bingyang and Shuxing Ji have filed suit against the Edison Board of Education on March 2, 2011.  Another defendant is Robert Merkler, a school employee.  Further details are unknown.

46. INDIAN BUSINESS ASSN. v. EDISON, No. MID-L-1488-11.  Claiming it was wrongfully denied a permit to hold a parade, the Indian Business Association has sued the Township, along with its mayor, the clerk, business administrator, and Public Safety Director.  The suit, filed February 24, is assigned to Judge Bryan Garruto.  Frank Fusco of Clifton represents the plaintiff. Further coverage on the matter is here and here.

45. MATTHEW FREEMAN v. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, No. MID-L-1461-11.  Matthew Freeman has sued the Township of Edison, the Police Department, and Mayor Antonia Ricigliano.  Freeman is a captain in the Edison PD, and the head of its Office of Professional Standards.  The suit was filed February 23, 2011.  Further details are unknown.

2010

44. Three Edison firefighter candidates, Michael Carloni, Robert Pizzaia and John Tempe, each filed lawsuits against the township and various fire officials in November 2010.  (Case Nos. L-8570-10, L-8573-10 and L-8576-10).  In February 2011 the cases were dismissed.  Coverage of the filings is here.

43. The Star-Ledger reports, “Edison firefighters sue, claiming staff cuts put residents at risk.”  (October 31, 2010).

42. On October 19, 2010, Edison Township was sued by Lisa LaRue, a municipal construction code official.  John Medina and Dennis Gonzalez are also named as defendants.  The case number is MID-L-8073-10.  A report in the Home News says that officials LaRue’s claims — retaliation and hostile work environment — stem from her being “pressured to approve construction projects that were completed without inspections” and a dispute about whether an overbilled applicant should be reimbursed.  Michael Osbourne of Princeton represents LaRue.

41. On September 27, 2010, Kevin Gilligan sued Edison PD captain David Pemberton, along with the department itself, and the township.  The case number is MID-L-7161-10; further details are unknown.

40. Edison is suing Dumor Construction for unknown reasons.  No. MID-L-6371-10 (filed August 26, 2010).

39. In a federal complaint filed August 19, 2010, Joao Dematos alleges that he was the victim of excessive force used by members of the Edison Police Department, Paul Pappas and Anthony Sarni, on August 22, 2009.  Although he admits the police presence was brought on by a verbal dispute with his wife, he says the police officers used “Section 1983 Excessive Force” on him.  He has also named police chief Thomas Bryan, and Jun Choi, who was then the mayor of the Township of Edison as defendants, claiming they are also responsible because they were the supervisors of the actual officers.  The Township of Edison is itself a defendant, also.  The case number is 2:10-cv-04262-DMC-JAD.  Thomas Mallon of Freehold represents the plaintiffs.  Richard Guss of Warren represents some defendants and Lori Dvorak of New Brunswick represents some other defendants.  On December 2, Pappas and Sarni moved for dismissal of the case.  Judge Cavanaugh has received briefs on the motion but as of May 16, 2011, had not yet ruled.

38. The Home News reports, “Edison cop caught up in Woodbridge prostitution investigation, source says,” June 9, 2010.  The unnamed officer was identified by a CI as being a customer of a prostitute in Woodbridge and has been placed on administrative leave.

37. LINUS GERME V. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, filed May 17, 2010 in federal court (No. 10-cv-2528).  The case alleges police brutality.  Separately, the feds have also initiated an investigation into the matter. The township is represented by Christopher Killmurray of Hoagland Longo, but several of the individual officers have retained their own, separate, attorneys. The case is ongoing.  Additional coverage is here.  On January 10, 2011, Germe sought court permission to amend his complaint and add claims that two of the police officer defendants were named in a Star-Ledger article as users of anabolic steroids.  Germe says that the Edison PD, including Chief Thomas Bryan, negligently failed to monitor and control these officers’ use of steroids.  As of May 16, 2011, the motion to amend is still pending.  Related to the Germe case is a federal grand jury investigation.  A subpoena issued by the grand jury, which specifically asks for records relating to Germe, can be found here.

36. I/M/O TENURE HEARING OF CAROL ZIZNEWSKI.  UPDATE: The Commissioner of Education affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge on August 3, 2010. An Edison teacher has had her tenure revoked in a May 5, 2010 decision.  Administrative Judge John Futey ruled that the Edison BOE provide its case against Ziznewski and her unauthorized leave and abuse of the attendance policy, failure to follow approved and acceptable educational plans and protocols, disrespect and disregard of her authorized supervisors,  selective teaching of certain students, selective disregard of the learning requirements of other students, thoroughly and unprofessional conduct in the manner in which she challenged both school authorities and fellow teachers at parent/teacher conferences, her disgraceful insolence directed at her principal Gerald Young and ESL supervisor Martin Smith, and several Affirmative Action complaints lodged against respondent from other staff members alleging repeated and repeated and recurring disturbing instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying by her, frequently in or near the immediate presence of school children during school hours or in environments in which others could overhear.

35. Federal judge hands Edison a setback in police brutality suit, April 29, 2010.  Extended discussion is found here.

34. ANTHONY CANCRO V. EDISON TOWNSHIP, filed March 30, 2010 in state court. No. L-2362-10.  No further information available.

33. Still more police litigation!  The Star-Ledger reports, “Two more Edison cops sue town, mayor over demotions,” March 11, 2010.  Plaintiffs this time are Gregory Formica and Frank Todd, represented by Stephen Hunter of Somerville.

32. The Star-Ledger reports, “Four demoted cops sue Edison, township mayor arguing election retaliation,” Feb. 16, 2010.  Home News coverage is available here.  Four Edison police officers — Mark Anderko, Anthony Marcantuono Jr., Dominick Masi and Joseph Shannon — have filed a lawsuit in state court claiming that their recent demotion was illegal.  The case No. is MID-L-1173-10 and was filed February 16.  Charles Sciarra of Clifton represents the plaintiffs.  Anderko and Marcantuono, two of the plaintiffs here, are defendants in the suit described in the January 5 entry below.  As we wrote nearly a month ago on the main page, Edison police “are making heavy use of our federal and state court system . . .  apparently unable to work out their differences with discussion, mediation, or other forms of dispute resolution short of lawsuits.”  And so it continues.

31. The Star-Ledger reports, “Middlesex County to pay nearly $1M to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit,” Feb. 1, 2010.  Though not an Edison case, the article is an interesting read.  The case, settled last May, did not appear until today, after some sleuthing by the S/L reporters to find out about this.

30. The New Jersey Supreme Court heard argument on February 1, in a property tax appeal case involving Edison Township.  Davanne Realty, owners of a commercial warehouse at 200 Raritan Center Parkway, claim that state tax procedures that apply to them are an unconstitutional “fine, forfeiture or penalty.”  The appeals court rejected the appeal, finding that the procedures were reasonable.  On March 17, the Supreme Court affirmed.  Edison taxpayers were represented in this case by attorney Martin Allen, a partner of former township attorney Jeff Lehrer, who successfully fought the misguided efforts of this commercial landlord to reduce his tax bill.

29. The Home News reports, “Edison officer sentenced to probation over shoplifting penalized in pension,” Jan. 27, 2010.

28. TRACY EAYRES v. EDISON TOWNSHIP, filed Jan. 15, 2010 in state court.  No. L-551-10.  No further information available.

27. The Star-Ledger reports, “N.J. appeals court rules in favor of Edison in lawsuit over death of public works employee,” Jan. 13, 2010. In this tragic case, the estate of a township sanitation worker, killed when a garbage truck ran over him, has lost a case looking to have to township held liable beyond the amounts payable under worker’s compensation.  Because the accident happened on the job, the estate could only win its case by proving that the township committed an “intentional wrong” such as conduct that to a “virtual certainty” would result in “injury or death.”  Sad as this case is, Edison Blog congratulates the colleagues of former township attorney Lou Rainone, who won this tough case on behalf of Edison’s taxpayers.

26. CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES & VISCO V. EDISON TWP.  Case filed Jan. 8, 2010.  No. L-206-10.  This appears to be a case against the Planning Board.  Judge Hyland has been assigned the case.

25. The Sentinel reports, “Edison fire union takes issue to state Comptroller’s Office,” Jan. 6, 2010.

24. The Home News reports, “Ex-Edison cop files discrimination suit against Choi, supervisory officers,” Jan. 5, 2010.  The case was filed in federal court on November 24, 2009, No. 09-cv-5993.  Plaintiff is represented by Gerald Gordon of Monroe.  The complaint alleges age discrimination, hostile work environment, and political retaliation.  Danielle Abouzeid represents the defendants

2009

23. RAJNIKANT PARIKH v. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, MICHAEL DOTRO, SAM DOTRO, MICHAEL SCHWARZ, December 29, 2009.  Court decision by federal judge denying a request to dismiss a lawsuit claiming misconduct by a federal immigration attorney and others.  Case No.: 08-cv-3300.  The case was administratively dismissed in July 2010 because Parikh’s lawyers have lost contact with his client, but it can be reinstated if he reappears by December 31, 2010.

22. BRUCE POLKOWITZ V. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, BRIAN COLLIER, JUN CHOI, THOMAS BRYAN, filed December 21, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-10403-09.  Sidney Lehman of Trenton represents Polkowitz, while Eric Harrison of Edison represents the township defendants.  No further information available.

21. MICHAEL PENZEL AND SHARI PENZEL V. EDISON TWP. BOARD OF EDUCATION, KUSUM LIMBACHIA, MARYANN BANKS, SUDHIR LIMBACHIA, VISHAL LIMBACHIA, filed December 16, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-10236-09.  No further information available.

20. TIMOTHY LEAHY AND TIMOTHY LEAHY, JR. V. EDISON TWP. BOARD OF EDUCATION AND EDISON TOWNSHIP, filed December 11, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-10202-09.  No further information available.

19. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON V. PBA LOCAL 75 (SUPERIORS), November 24, 2009. PERC decision granting in part township’s request “for a restraint of binding arbitration.”

18. WALTER HAHN AND ELIZABETH HAHN V. JUN CHOI, BRIAN COLLIER, DEPT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, MARK ANDERKO, THOMAS BRYAN filed Oct. 4, 2009 in state court.  No. L-9105-09.  No further information available.

17. LIN V. MIDDLESEX WATER COMPANY, filed Sep. 23, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-7930-09.  No further information available.

16. CRUSADER LIEN SERVICES V. EDISON TOWNSHIP, filed Sep. 11, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-7584-09.  No further information available.

15. The Star Ledger reports, “Edison police officer sues township claiming discrimination,” August 25, 2009

14. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON V. POLICEMEN’S BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION, LOCAL #75, INC., August 13, 2009.  PERC decision denying township’s request for “restraint of binding arbitration” and retaining jurisdiction over decision to create an “early evening shift.”

13. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON V. PBA LOCAL #75, July 8, 2009.  Interim decision by PERC representative prohibiting township from unilaterally altering police vacation schedules.

12. CANNELL V. JP STEVENS HIGH SCHOOL, filed July 2, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-5706-09.  No further information available.

11. TELESNICK V. CHESTERFIELD TOWNHOMES, filed July 1, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-5548-09.  No further information available.

10. IAFF, LOCAL 1197 V. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, June 25, 2009.  Court decision by N.J. Appellate Court saying that the Edison fire union was not entitled to interest or attorneys’ fees after the Township took over 2 months to fully iron out what every individual employee was owed under a new labor contract that granted retroactive salary increases.

9. MARLEN BUEZO V. EDISON POLICE DEPARTMENT JASON GERBA, TELEPOSKY, WILLIAM BOHN, MICHAEL CARULLO, MICHAEL CIMNINO, JOHN DAUBER, TOTH, LISA PENSAK, MICHAEL HORVATH, LESLIE SANCHEZ, RICHARD BUCK, MARK METZINK, SEAN FORKER, GEORGE MIECZKOWSKI, GOSH KARGARIA, GARY RAPITAN, AL HERMAN, filed June 25, 2009, federal court.  No. 09-3086.  Nature of suit: Civil Rights – Other Civil Rights.  The case was reported settled on October 16, but settlement terms were not disclosed.  The township defendants were represented by attorney Lori A. Dvorak of New Brunswick.

8. The Star Ledger reports, “Edison firefighter’s suit claims free speech rights violated after poster criticizing mayor,” Jun. 24, 2009.

  • See related content: PETER YACKEL V. JUN CHOI, NORMAN JENSEN AND TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, filed June 16, 2009 in federal court, no. 09-cv-2924.  Nature of suit: Civil Rights – Employment.  Plaintiff alleges he was given a 5-day suspension “for inappropriate political activities while on duty and utilizing municipal property for political purpose, insubordination toward Mayor Choi (who also serves as Edison’s Director of Public Safety) and violations of Article 4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”  He claims this was retaliation based on his expression of political beliefs that the mayor had not lived up to campaign promises.  The township claims that he filed suit prematurely, without filing a grievance, and that in any event, he was not disciplined for speaking his mind but for doing so on duty and on municipal property.  Attorney Michael McNally of Iselin represented the plaintiff, and Eric Harrison and Louis Rainone represented the township.
  • UPDATE / see related content: Opinion and Order dismissing the case, March 16, 2010.

7. URBANSKI V. EDISON TOWNSHIP, filed May 12, 2009 in state court.  No. MID-L-4201-09.  No further information available.

6. WHEELER V. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, April 27, 2009.  Ruling of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirming a ruling in favor of the township in a political retaliation and whistleblower case.

5. VATICANO V. EDISON TOWNSHIP, filed April 14, 2009, federal court, No. 09-cv-1751.  Plaintiff claims that his superiors subjected him to a variety of retaliatory acts arising from his support of former mayor George Spadoro during the 2005 primary.  The retaliation included being passed over for promotions and being assigned tasks beneath his police rank.  The township filed an answer and as of January 2010, discovery is ongoing.  Plaintiff is represented by attorney Roosevelt Porter of Woodbridge, and the township by Eric Harrison of Edison and Louis Rainone of Teaneck. UPDATE: a federal ruling issued November 5, 2010 dismissed most of Vaticano’s claims.

4. News release from the U.S. Attorney, “Six Illegal Aliens Admit Conspiring with and Paying Edison Business Owner to Receive Fraudulent Work Visas,” Feb. 19, 2009.

2008 and earlier

3. DU-BOIS v. TOWNSHIP OF EDISON, filed Dec. 23, 2008, federal court.  This a civil rights case.  Plaintiff is represented by Thomas Mallon of Freehold.  The township defendants, which include four police officials, are represented by Richard Guss of Warren and Lori Dvorak of New Brunswick.  As of January 2010, discovery (the exchange of information between parties) is ongoing.  In October 2010, some parties filed motions for summary judgment (a request to decide the case before trial).  But on February 23, 2011, Judge Wigenton denied the motions.  Accordingly, the case continues.

2. From the Council on Affordable Housing, “Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, Edison Township, Dec. 15, 2008.

1. The Sentinel reports, “Toth hearing delayed,” June 25, 2008.  We found this article but have not been able to get answers about what ultimately became of this litigation.  But we congratulate the parent for at least fighting a good fight, and getting some accountability for this action.

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