Appellate court rules that couple won’t have to pay Hoboken bloggers $277k in attorney costs

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The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division has ruled that a couple won’t have to pay nearly $277,000 in attorney costs, along with the possibility to refile a new claim, reversing a lower court decision that included dismissing a defamation claim against Hoboken bloggers back in February 2015.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

” … We reverse the summary judgment motion dismissing the claim set forth in paragraph 47 of the complaint and remand that claim for further proceedings,” Appellate Judges William E. Nugent, Heidi W. Currier and Richard J. Geiger ruled earlier today.

“We reverse the judgment at trial dismissing the claim set forth in paragraph 87 of the complaint and remand that claim for trial. Last, we vacate the award of counsel fees and sanctions.”

The 98-page decision reverses a ruling made by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre back on February 10th, 2015, where he dismissed the defamation suit.

The suit contended that posts written on Grafix Avenger, run by one of the defendants, Nancy Pincus, as well as comments made on Patch.com by Hoboken Horse publisher Roman Brice and a private citizen, Mark Heyer, defamed the couple.

At the hearing, Arre said counsel for Lane Bajardi and Kim Cardinal Bajardi failed to prove damages, malice or blatant disregard for the truth in any given scenario laid out in the suit.

Adding insult to injury, six months later Arre ruled that the defendants were owed $276,677 in legal fees (that decision can be read here), which later resulted in the Bajardis selling their home.

“For the forgoing reasons, we vacate the award of counsel fees and remand the matter for the trial court for entry in the amount of fees paid to date, if any,” the order also says.

Furthermore, back on September 5th, 2014, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Christine Vanek dismissed a number of other defamation claims made by Kim Cardinal Bajardi on summary judgement.

In addition to overturning the award for attorney’s fees, the appellate court has remanded two defamation counts related to Pincus “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Although Bajardi, who had supported former Councilwoman Beth Mason and former Councilman Tim Occhipinti, was a limited public figure, the appellate division felt that a case of defamation can be made over an email she sent to Lane Bajardi’s employer.

“Lane Bajardi is a hyper-partisan political operative who blogs under the screen name ‘prosbus’, and is now fomenting anti-Semitism in his latest effort to smear Hoboken’s Jewish mayor, Dawn Zimmer,” she wrote on January 18th, 2012.

“As a Jew, I am offended and disgusted by this. As a well-known political blogger in Hoboken, I will be asking my community to reject Mr. Bajardi and his hate-mongering. I don’t think your advertisers will appreciate a voice on your airwaves actively engaged in spreading bigotry and intolerance in the Hoboken community.”

The panel believes that the conduct ascribed to Bajardi “would adversely affect his fitness for business,” which makes the statements defamatory and actionable – since there is no proof that Bajardi is anti-Semitic or participated in anti-Semitism.

As HCV reported in 2015, Zimmer’s husband Stan Grossbard felt that Lane Bajardi had used a pseudonym when he made anti-Semitic comments about him.

The other instance revolves around a February 3rd, 2012 comment on Patch.com where Pincus posted that Bajardi had been questioned by the FBI “and is believed to be part of the criminal conspiracy to steal our mayor’s e-mail and traffic[k]ing in confidential city information.”

Although she was speaking about a current event, former Hoboken IT worker Patrick Ricciardi being charged with leaking confidential emails from then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her staff, court testimony from both Bajardi and Pincus determined those accusations were “fabrications, the appellate court determined.

“… In dismissing Bajardi’s claim based on paragraph 87, the trial judge based his decision in part on his belief that ‘evidence of stolen e-mails subject of the FBI investigation . . . were present on Mr. Bajardi’s e-mail account,'” today’s decision says.

“The judge’s belief was not supported by the record and the conclusion he drew from it was contrary to the standard of review. During the trial, defendants attempted to prove this allegation based on emails found on Bajardi’s email account during discovery – substantially after Pincus had written her allegedly defamatory statement.

Kerry Flowers, who is representing Heyer in the matter, gave a succinct response when asked about the latest development in the case.

“While my client and I are happy with that part of the decision which found the statements attributed to him not to be actionable, we are disappointed in that portion of the decision which vacated the award of attorney’s fees,” he said in an email.

The other attorneys in the matter did not respond to requests seeking comment on Friday.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Nancy is the clear loser in this ruling as two counts have to go back to trial. Mark also takes a hit as all his legal bills are his to pay: He already had the Bjardis pay thousand of dollars so the shoe is on the other foot. They both deserve it. Karma ain’t it a bitch.

    • Let this be a warning to vicious bloggers and their apologists like Linda Lou the 750,000 Lie-ability, the Fakes and that condescending fish.
      Bhalla’s Bile Bloggers were bound to go too far, so this probably helps Bhalla as they will now be silenced ( if they have half a brain they will ).

      Can’t erase the photos or the posts… they are imprinted forever. See you in November!

    • Roman’s the biggest big loser. Unemployed, with over $100,000 in legal fees. He’ll have to juice 25,000 scooters to pay that back.

      Funny to see you rooting for the same guy you smeared under dozens of screen names, right Kurt Klausenfluffer? By the Grace of God you weren’t in the crosshairs. Funny to see schadenfreude from a guy makes false, reckless, malicious allegation of animal murder. Karma may be your bitch soon. You deserve it.

      • It looks to me from this article like the remanded items are only item by Nancy. No one is routing for anyone, but she is the one in the cross-hares of this ruling.

        • “We vacate the award of counsel fees and remand the matter to trial court for entry of judgment in the amount of fees paid to date, if any.”- page 83

          The trial court original judgment vacated, they are ordered to enter a judgment in the amount of FEES PAID TO DATE. Capisce? Whatever that amount is, that is the amended judgment against plaintiffs.

          • You might be right on the fees in that going forward no additional payments by the plaintiffs. However, what I said about Mark and Nancy still applies. Both of them are rotten to the core and yes the
            Bajardis lawsuit is mostly frivolous but the court ruled that Nancy is still in this thing.Nancy is sure keeping those Hudson County Lawyers busy.

    • Nobody is crying… what downward spiral, now maybe she will learn as the people who she blogged for will no doubt distance themselves from her.
      Ring Ring… hello… Ravi? John Allen? Jason? …. you there? Vijay? Anybody…. Bueller… ?

      All the Horse trashing and he’s the one that was proven to be innocent.

  2. The Plaintiffs now have a possibility to refile a claim. Will they ?
    Doing so would be opening themselves up again to what would be several costly months or even years of public scrutiny and rehashing much of the very same issues. As a semi-public local political figure and an on air radio personality he will also have to weigh the negative impact that any new court case would have on him in the court of public opinion. It may be expeditious at this point to the take the intermediate win and walk away. Keep in mind that the court, not withstanding the latest ruling, has not been favorable to them in the past and whittled away almost all of the original complaint.

    • Nervous much? The public isn’t interested in these plaintiffs, so I doubt there’d be much scrutiny. Likewise I doubt the public has or would have any opinion. This is now a private litigation if it continues. To refile, I guess it depends on the risk/reward and overall feeling of the plaintiffs. What might they stand to gain in terms of compensation and how much would it cost them monetarily and is there a lawyer willing to take this on contingency?

      Guess we’ll see.

      • I would disagree with your assessment of public interest in this case locally and within the media community as that is the basis of the deformation claim. I agree that the plaintiffs and their legal council need to access their risk/reward exposure to continue to litigate.

  3. Nancy how bout them apples? What about that idiot Roman who has no job and now owes huge legal fees. Mark better pony up to pay back. Nancy’s snitch b1+(# Al Sullivan is out on his ass too. KARMA! HOW YOU LIKE DEM APPLES!

  4. There are no winners here. One defendant remains out something like $100,000 in legal fees. A second defendant is out whatever legal fees hadn’t been reimbursed to date (payments to date were not required to be refunded.

    As for the third defendant which remains in the case, had the trial Court judge made exactly this decision at trial, instead of the decision he made, the decision would have been perceived as gutting the plaintiff’s case since it left them with only one defendant and only two allegations that would, even if they ultimately prevailed, result in only nominal damages.

    Defamation cases without provable damages are pretty much always money losers intended either to make a point or to hurt the defendant. I’m not sure what the point was here, and at least monetarily the plaintiffs have hurt themselves more than any defendant.

    Litigating what little is left of this case to trial will cost the defendants more in legal fees gong forward than they realisticly have any hope of recovering at trial, and they will never recoup the fortune that has been spent by them (or on their behalf) so far.

    I doubt any lawyer would take this case on contingency without a commitment from the Bajardis to accept a reasonable settlement, and given the economic value of the case, that figure is likely to be far less than the Bajardis have spent in legal fees so far, and even that will be split 70/30 with their lawyer.

    A modest settlement would be the only rational result for everyone going forward. But in a rational world, this case would never have existed at all.

    • I think that the real reason this got taken to Appellate was for the Plaintiffs lawyers wanted to try to clear their reputations. Their fines was inconsequential the reprimand from the Court wasn’t.

  5. Karma, it’s not just a restaurant in Hoboken. 2 vile bloggers. pretending to be interested in intelligent discourse but as soon as you took a position contrary to theirs – online abuse, arrogance, and eventually censorship. Fast forward to 2019, they hate each other. The horse’s daily life is punishment enough but hopefull Nancy is about to get what she deserves. FSBO?

    • Decision says plaintiff is only entitled to nominal damages. What kind of idiot is gonna spend 50k in legal fees to collect a 5 dollar judgment? Oh right….. that kind…

    • @ZL, what world are you living in? I’ve disagreed in comments on GA a few times and never experienced any abuse, usually just had a normal conversation with a few people on the other side of the issue. you sound like you have an agenda.

      • Oh that’s BS if ever I’ve read it. I know lots of people that were/are blocked for disagreeing with her. It’s her blog, so she can do what she wants (although she’s going to have to be careful not to defame people anymore) but trying to pretend that people that disagree with her aren’t blocked is ridiculous. I’m not blocked because I don’t bother commenting there; I just check out her fabrications from time to time, and now that it’s the Team Bhalla campaign website I need to continue reading it. Pretty repugnant that Team Bhalla candidates applaud her commentary. They must be a pretty nasty crew.

        • So you just like reading Hoboken horse which is 90% press releases from Ramos, Fischer, Giatino, Defesuco. I guess reading about Defusco’s ELEC reports and Ramos VBMs makes you uncomfortable. But those are facts and you can’t wish them away by name calling.

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