Capehart Scatchard Sponsors South Asian Bar Association Annual Gala

PHOTO: SABA-NJ Executive Board and Trustees

Capehart Scatchard was a sponsor of the Annual Gala of the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey (SABA-NJ), held at the Marigold in Somerset, NJ on October 1, 2021.  The Gala featured South Asian food and music and celebrated the work of the organization and its leaders within the South Asian legal community in New Jersey.  Paul Grewal, Esq., Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for Coinbase, was the keynote speaker.

Shareholder, Sanmathi “Sanu” Dev, is a SABA-NJ trustee. The organization is a voluntary association of attorneys and professionals in the New Jersey area dedicated to the needs, concerns and interests of the South Asian community in New Jersey.

Ms. Dev concentrates her practice on school law and labor and employment law. She is experienced in representing, advising, and defending boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline and civil rights. She leads Capehart Scatchard’s School Law Blog, which focuses on cases, court decisions, and current developments affecting education law in the state of New Jersey. Ms. Dev is the Chair of the Firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which seeks to facilitate the Firm’s efforts to achieve and maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace at every level of our organization. Ms. Dev also serves as the Firm’s Hiring Shareholder. She received her law degree from Rutgers Law School at Camden and her B.A. degree from Boston University.


Capehart Scatchard Shareholder Recognized As A “Woman Of The Week” By Women’s Advisory Council

Capehart Scatchard is pleased to announce that the Burlington County Women’s Advisory Council has selected, shareholder Sanmathi “Sanu” Dev, to receive the “Woman of the Week” award for the week of September 27, 2021.  Ms. Dev was nominated for the award by a member of the Advisory Council for her outstanding service to the Burlington County community.

Ms. Dev, a Burlington County resident, concentrates her practice on school law and labor and employment law.  She is experienced in representing, advising, and defending boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline and civil rights.  She leads Capehart Scatchard’s School Law Blog, which focuses on cases, court decisions, and current developments affecting education law in the state of New Jersey.  Ms. Dev is the Chair of the Firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which seeks to facilitate the Firm’s efforts to achieve and maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace at every level of our organization.   Ms. Dev also serves as the Firm’s Hiring Shareholder.  She received her law degree from Rutgers Law School at Camden and her B.A. degree from Boston University.

In addition, Ms. Dev serves as a Co-Chair of the Burlington County Bar Association’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Committee and is a Trustee of the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey. She also serves on the Rutgers Law School Dean’s Council and is a member of the Rutgers Alumni for Diversity, Community-Building, and Access in the Law. Throughout her career, Ms. Dev has mentored law students and young attorneys particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.


Andrea Schlafer Appointed Board Member Of The National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network

Capehart Scatchard Shareholder, Andrea L. Schlafer, Esq., was recently named a member of the board of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network (“NWCDN”).  The NWCDN is a network of law firms dedicated to protecting employers in workers’ compensation cases in 45 states and Canada.

Ms. Schlafer represents insurance carriers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims at all stages of litigation.  She received her law degree from Rutgers Law School in Camden and her B.S. degree in Business Administration and Finance from the College of Charleston, cum laude.  Upon law school graduation, Ms. Schlafer worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Kevin T. Smith in the New Jersey Superior Court, Gloucester County Vicinage.


Highlights of New Jersey Rules and Regulations Relating to Adult-Use Cannabis

By:  Sheila M. Mints, Esq. and Alana M. Hans-Cohen, Esq.


Yesterday, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission issued long-awaited initial regulations on legalization of adult use cannabis in New Jersey.  Here are some of the highlights of the application process:

  1. The application will be printed in the NJ Register, which is published twice a month, and layout timelines for the application process and all details regarding the application. No date was provided for publication.
  1. There will be a rolling application process for “Priority Applicants.” This means anytime a priority applicant submits their application, they will immediately jump to the front of the line for review.
  2.   Priority Applicants are:
    1. Social Equity Businesses, owned by people who have lived in economically disadvantaged areas of the state or who have past convictions for cannabis offenses;
    2. Diversely Owned Businesses, which are minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned and certified as such
    3. Impact Zone Businesses, which are located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from Impact Zones, or employ residents of Impact Zones. Impact zones are municipalities with a large population, high unemployment rate, or high numbers of crime or arrests for marijuana.
  3. Priority Applicants will be prioritized in the licensure process so that their applications are reviewed before other applicants –regardless of when they apply. 
  4. Microbusinesses, which are limited to 10 employees and 2,500 square feet, will also be prioritized and, if successful, allowed to apply to expand their business in accordance with consumer demand.
  5. There are no caps on the number of licenses to be awarded EXCEPT that a 37 Cultivator License cap will be in place for the first twenty four (24) months.  This cap does not apply to microbusiness cultivators.
  6. Municipalities can impose caps on the number of cannabis business allowed.

Capehart Scatchard Shareholders Named To The Best Lawyers In America© 2022 List

Capehart Scatchard Shareholders, John H. Geaney, Esq. and Betsy G. Ramos, Esq., were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, issued by BL Rankings, LLC.  Mr. Geaney was selected in the practice area of Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers and Ms. Ramos was selected in the area of Litigation – Insurance.

The Best Lawyers in America list is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which leading attorneys cast votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas.  A description of the selection methodology can be viewed here.

Mr. Geaney is Co-Chair of Capehart Scatchard’s Workers’ Compensation Group. He is active in the New Jersey Self Insurers Association (Membership and Programs Committees) as well as NJ PRIMA and Kids’ Chance of New Jersey.  Mr. Geaney is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network and is the author of Geaney’s New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Manual for Practitioners, Physicians, Adjusters, and Employers.

Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney, Ms. Ramos, is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department.  She is a seasoned litigator with over thirty years’ experience handling diverse matters and concentrates her practice in tort defense, business litigation,  insurance coverage,  estate litigation, employment litigation, and general litigation.


No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.


Alana Hans-Cohen Named To Insider NJ’s 2021 “Insider 100: Policymakers” List

Capehart Scatchard is pleased to announce that associate, Alana Hans-Cohen, has been recognized as one of New Jersey’s top policymakers by Insider NJ. For the full 2021 “Insider 100: Policymakers” list, please click here.

Ms. Hans-Cohen is a self-proclaimed “cannabis nerd” who focuses her practice on cannabis law and how this new, highly regulated industry intersects business, real estate, government, social justice, and public policy.

Ms. Hans-Cohen received her law degree from New York Law School and a B.A. degree in Political Science from City University of New York, John Jay College. Ms. Hans-Cohen is Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Drugs and the Law, and a Trustee of The Cannabis Advisory Group, a non-profit focusing on improving cannabis laws and education. She is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, Illinois, and Washington State.


Capehart Scatchard Participates In Eyeglass Drive

PHOTO: Kay Sowa, EA, AEP®, CFTA presents a full box of eyeglasses to Phil Lezenby, Past President of the Moorestown Lions Club.

Over the past several months, attorneys and staff have been collecting used eyeglasses for the Moorestown Lions Club.  The collection drive was spearheaded by Kay Sowa, a paralegal in the Trusts & Estates Group. Ms. Sowa originally contacted the club after cleaning out a decedent’s residence where she found several pair of glasses and wanted them to be put to good use.  She decided to start the collection at the firm to bring awareness that used glasses can be recycled and can bring sight to needy people around the world.

The firm collected almost 150 pairs of gently used eyeglasses. Lions Club volunteers will examine each pair to determine the prescription. The glasses will be labeled and then sent to countries lacking access to basic eye care.


Tiffany Torres vs. Walmart

Client: Walmart

Court: Workers’ Compensation

Trial Attorney:  Nicholas A. Dibble, Esq.

Brief Attorney:  Nicholas A. Dibble, Esq. 

**Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances**

In a truly peculiar fact pattern the petitioner alleged that she was bit by a dog at a BBQ while working as a cashier at Walmart.  The respondent denied the claim and filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that the incident did not occur within the course and scope of employment.  A trial ensued on the Motion to Dismiss.

The petitioner was the first person to take the stand and testified that she worked at Walmart on the date of the incident, however, prior to the incident she had clocked out to lunch.  While clocked out for lunch she left the store, was picked up by her husband and taken to a BBQ at his friend’s house where she was bit by the dog.  Notably, the owner of the dog worked as a manager at a different Walmart location. There were more than a dozen people at the  BBQ but the only people there who worked for Walmart were the petitioner and the dog owner.   Although the BBQ was scheduled for the Saturday of the Fourth of July weekend, the petitioner testified that she was at the BBQ for a job interview with the dog’s owner for a position at a different Walmart location.  Her husband testified next and confirmed this.

The third witness offered by the petitioner was the dog’s owner who disagreed with the petitioner’s testimony.  The owner testified that they may have discussed potential openings at the dog owner’s store but at no time was the BBQ a job interview.  Following the testimony of the dog owner the petitioner rested.  Before proceeding any further with trial the respondent moved for the case to be dismissed immediately given the lack of evidence demonstrating that the dog bite occurred within the course and scope of employment. The Judge of Compensation agreed and dismissed the entire claim with prejudice as the dog bite did not occur within the course and scope of employment.


Team From Capehart Scatchard Volunteers At Local Food Bank

PHOTO: L to R: Jaclyn Terranova, Esq.; McKenna Parris, Esq.; Callan Devery; Kelly Ann Dugan, Esq.; Beth Hopkins, Marketing Director.

On Saturday, June 12th, attorneys and staff, along with family members, volunteered to package and distribute groceries for the Food Bank of South Jersey. Additionally, the firm presented a $2,500 donation to the Food Bank.

Capehart Scatchard’s team of volunteers worked in Burlington City, NJ out of the Hope Mobile, a mobile pantry, carrying a truckload of food to ‘food deserts’ – those areas that lack access to a viable network of food. This aptly named 18 wheel tractor trailer holds 45,000 lbs. of food.


New Jersey Supreme Court Holds that Multiple Documents Cannot be Used to Establish Compliance with the Notice Requirements of the Tort Claims Act

By: Sean P. Dugan, Law Clerk

On June 13, 2017, Plaintiff H.C. Equities served the County of Union and Union County Improvement Authority a “Notice of Tort Claim” for “damages arising from tortious interference with contract … conspiracy, defamation and trade libel.” The claim arose out of a contract dispute where the County of Union stopped making rental payments on the lease with H.C. Equities due to alleged neglect of the property after an electrical fire. The lease was not paid from July 26, 2012 to April 1, 2018, totaling $14,846,790.16 in withheld rent. The issue decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court in H.C. Equities, LP v. County of Union, 2021 N.J. LEXIS 735 (July 19, 2021) was whether H.C. Equities properly complied with the New Jersey Tort Claims Act’s notice of claim provisions in attempting to assert tort claims against these public entities.

H.C. Equities had filed a previous lawsuit in 2013, but had it dismissed without prejudice due to settlement negotiations. In October 2015, the Authority hired a real estate consultant, Colliers International, which produced an initial report on January 20, 2017. Colliers identified “substantial disadvantages” in the building in the report and recommended that the County leave the building. H.C. Equities obtained a copy of the report, which prompted the company to send the County and Authority a letter on February 22, 2017. The letter stated that H.C. Equities believed the report was written in bad faith and wanted it to be withdrawn from consideration.

H.C. Equities sent a second letter to both the County and the Authority on March 8, 2017, in which H.C. Equities’ counsel wrote that his client would reinstate its multimillion dollar claims against the County and the Authority if the report was not withdrawn. On March 9, 2017, another law firm sent a letter to County Counsel stating that H.C. Equities would be filing a civil action “in connection with the settlement agreement or its attempted frustration.” Nothing indicated that this letter was ever sent to the Authority.

H.C. Equities filed this action against the County on April 13, 2018, claiming, “Breach of lease … breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conspiracy and promissory estoppel.” As for the Authority, it asserted claims for trade libel, defamation, and conspiracy.

The Authority moved to have all claims asserted against it dismissed because H.C. Equities failed to provide a timely notice of tort claims. On October 30, 2018, H.C. Equities cross-moved “for retroactive extensions of time for filing of its Notice under the Tort Claims Act.” The motion contended that H.C. Equities’ cause of action did not accrue when it obtained the Colliers report because the County and the Authority committed a continuing tort. The County also moved to dismiss H.C. Equities’ conspiracy and promissory estoppel claims and H.C. Equities cross-moved for an extension of time to file a late notice of tort claim.

The Tort Claims Act requires the notice of a tort claim include, “(a)the name and post office address of the claimant … (c) the date, place or and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gave rise to the claim asserted; (d) A general description of the injury, damage or loss incurred … (e) the name or names of the public entity, employee or employees causing the injury, damage or loss, if known; and (f) the amount claimed …” The Act also requires the filing of a notice claim to be filed within 90 days after the accrual of the cause of action. However, the Act allows a claimant who missed the deadline to file a late notice within one year after the accrual of the claim, if the public entity would not be substantially prejudiced.

At the trial court level, the court held that H.C. Equities’ claims accrued no later than March 8, 2017. Under the Torts Claims Act, H.C. Equities was required to serve its tort claims notice no later than June 6, 2017, so its June 13, 2017 torts claims notice was filed too late. The March 8, 2017 accrual date also meant that H.C. Equities’ time for a motion for leave to file a late notice of claim expired on March 8, 2018. But H.C. Equities’ cross-motion was filed far later on April 18, 2019.

The trial court granted the Authority’s motion to dismiss based upon H.C. Equities’ failure to timely comply with the notice provisions of the Tort Claims Act. It also dismissed the conspiracy and promissory estoppel claims against the County, leaving the remaining breach of lease, breach of frustration of the settlement agreement, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims against the County.

The Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s determination, ruling that the three separate letters jointly established compliance with the notice requirements. The Appellate Division reasoned that because the letters were written by H.C. Equities’ counsel to lawyers representing the County and the Authority, the letters met the requirement that the claimant identify itself and the public entities being sued. The Appellate Division also decided that the letters gave sufficient notice because the letter sent on February 22, 2017 stated that the action involved millions of dollars.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the Appellate Division’s decision, remanding the case back to the to trial court, upholding the dismissal of the tort claims, leaving just the contract claims against the County. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s assessment that the claims accrued no later than March 8, 2017, and thus also agreed the notice and the motion for leave to file for late notice were both late. The Court also looked at the substantial compliance doctrine, which serves to ensure that legitimate claims due to technical defects are not barred, and determined that the letters collectively did not establish substantial compliance.

First, the Supreme Court noted that the Tort Claims Act consistently uses the singular, so, “a ruling that multiple documents can collectively constitute effective notice of a tort claim,” invites confusion.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the Authority was prejudiced because the letters did not alert them to the trade libel, defamation and conspiracy claims that H.C. Equities asserted in the action and the Authority was not sent a copy of the last letter, which was the only letter which stated H.C. Equities’ intention to file a new action. It also ruled that the letters did not give the Authority proper notice because the February 22, 2017 and March 9, 2017 letters did not properly give notice that H.C Equities intended to file a tort claim, and the February 22, 2017 letter did not describe the “injury damage or loss that H.C. Equities allegedly incurred.”

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