Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fire District's insurer's lawyer's error causes OPRA case's dismissal.

Yolanda Ciccone, A.J.S.C.
My Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit for disclosure of an agreement under which a former Franklin Township (Somerset County) fire commissioner settled his defamation lawsuit against several fire officials has been dismissed.  Background on that suit is on-line here.

Somerset County Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone's decision to dismiss, however, was based on an erroneous statement made by the fire district's insurance carrier's attorney during a January 12, 2015 court hearing.  The insurer's attorney, Raina M. Pitts of the Edison law firm of Methfessel & Werbel mistakenly told Ciccone that her client, American Alternative Insurance Corp, was not in possession of the settlement agreement.

Pitts advised Judge Ciccone of her error in a January 19, 2015 letter.  Judge Ciccone's order and decision and a copy of Pitts' letter are on-line here.  Given that the dismissal was caused by inaccurate information, we plan on asking Ciccone to reconsider her ruling.

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