As the world struggled to face the coronavirus pandemic, and millions of small businesses were confronted with unprecedented challenges, the attorneys in Ansell Grimm & Aaron’s Litigation Department assisted dozens of clients in protecting their businesses and livelihoods. Led by co-chairs Lawrence Shapiro and Joshua Bauchner, and assisted by attorneys Anthony D’Artiglio, Rahool Patel, Seth Rosenstein and, our newest member, Ashley Whitney, the Department is pleased to share its numerous successes.
Ansell Grimm & Aaron represented national retail and restaurant tenants in numerous COVID-19 Pandemic-related litigations, securing temporary restraints and preliminary injunctive relief to prevent self-help lockouts, restore utilities, permit outdoor dining, and stay eviction actions. As pandemic law remains largely unsettled, the Firm presented novel legal arguments to secure favorable decisions and settlements on behalf of our clients.
Class Action Litigation
Ansell Grimm & Aaron successfully obtained a transfer of venue in a nationwide class action originally venued in the Northern District of California. Plaintiff brought claims related to the sale of beauty products against the seller, shipper, and a host of individuals and entities. We successfully asserted that the shipping entity and a related individual should be severed and dismissed from the action, paving the way for a transfer of venue to the District of New Jersey for the remaining Defendants. We subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss in the District of New Jersey asserting that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction as a result of a pre-litigation refund offer and that the Amended Complaint is an impermissible “shotgun” pleading which is overlong, unintelligible, and impermissibly asserts collective rather than individual allegations of wrongdoing against all Defendants. The Motion to Dismiss remains pending.
In Washington v. Barr, the Firm filed a pro-bono amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of several non-profit organizations representing former national and international professional athletes in support of a constitutional challenge to the federal government’s continued refusal to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, even though millions of Americans use marijuana on a regular basis to manage debilitating health conditions in accordance with State, territorial, and local laws. Unfortunately, with the passing of Justice Ginsberg, petitioners were unable to secure the four votes necessary to secure review.
In an appeal challenging the New Jersey Department of Health’s administrative process with respect to its 2018 Request for Applications to operate medicinal marijuana alternative treatment centers, the Appellate Division issued a momentous 75-page decision vacating the Department’s disqualification decisions and remanding for further proceedings because the Department failed to provide any cogent explanation for the vast scoring discrepancies observed.
In several appeals challenging the technological failure of the New Jersey Department of Health’s online submission portal for its 2019 Request for Applications to operate medicinal marijuana alternative treatment centers, the Appellate Division issued a stay enjoining the Department from any further administrative action, including scoring and ranking applications, and issuing licenses. The Court later denied a motion by the Department to vacate the stay. At the present time, the appeals are fully briefed and scheduled for oral argument on February 2, 2020.
Judgement Enforcement & Defense
A matter of interest in 2020 concerned litigation initiated by the State of New Jersey’s Uninsured Employer’s Fund against the former owner of a New Jersey business. For years, the State’s outside counsel “litigated by default” an action against an entirely different individual (albeit, with the same last name), with a different address and different social security number having failed to afford our client any notice of the action whatsoever permitting him to defend. The State subsequently sought to enforce a Judgment against our client, going as far as levying escrow funds from the sale of the client’s home.
Upon retention, the Firm worked vigorously to oppose the turnover of funds from escrow and mark the judgment as satisfied, and cross-moved to vacate the default judgment. Our efforts resulted in justice for the client, by way of vacating default judgment, the issuance of an Order directing the State to promptly return the seized funds to escrow, and ultimately the return of the subject funds to our client.
Police Benevolent Association Legal Protection
The Firm is appealing the termination of a police officer with no prior discipline record who consistently held the department record for summonses, DUIs, and arrests, for alleged Criminal Justice Information Services violations by way of excessive full-disclosure search on his patrol car’s Mobile Data Terminal, despite its failure to identify a single full-disclosure search conducted without justification. The matter is slated for oral argument this month.
Ms. Whitney also utilized her years of representation of police officers to join the Firm’s criminal defense attorneys, Mitchell Ansell and Kevin Clark, on the PBA Legal Protection Plan’s list of approved attorneys in order to offer additional representation through the Firm’s Woodland Park office.