A Hudson County Superior Court judge approved a $225,757 payment on Friday, which will be paid off in installments, for the legal fees a Hoboken man involved in a SLAPP lawsuit with two local bloggers.
“Well, this is, this is the hearing … right now. I mean I’ve submitted, do you intend to afford anything other than statements submitted by way of certification?” Judge Barry Sarkisian asked attorney Thomas Flinn, who is representing Lane and Kim Cardinal Bajardi in a failed $2 million defamation case against two well-known Hoboken bloggers.
Flinn had previously suggested that he was expecting a future court date where the judge would decide on what sort of payment plan, if any, the Bajardis would have to pay to Mark Heyer – a Hoboken resident who got caught up in the legal battle simply by commenting on Hoboken blogs and/or news stories.
The Bajardis had previously argued that Roman Brice, who operates Hobokenhorse.com, Nancy Pincus, better known as Grafix Avenger, Heyer and 10 other unidentified defendants had defamed them by printing disparaging remarks in the heat of Hoboken political spats.
Both Lane and Kim Bajardi had been public supporters of former 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason.
As a result of Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre’s July 8th ruling, the Bajardis are on the hook for $277,000 in legal fees related to the case – which he referred to as “a SLAPP-suit disguised as a defamation case involving weighty issues of constitutionally protected First Amendment political free speech.”
In this context, a SLAPP suit is defined as a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
On February 11th, Sarkisian submitted an order directing entry of judgment for the Bajardis, asking them to pay Heyer the $225,757 they still owed him.
Additionally, Pincus is owed $26,033, Brice is owed $22,687 and the 10 screen name defendants and Heyer are collectively owed $2,200.
While Flinn argued that personal information pertaining to the Bajardis bank accounts would become public record, Michele Daitz, the attorney representing Heyer, argued that information could be redacted in a matter of minutes – a sentiment the judge agreed with, insisting the situation be remedied immediately.
Ultimately, Sarkisian’s order granting motion requiring installment payments asked for Bajardi to pay 25 percent of his net income – equaling out to $453.71 a week or $907.42 biweekly.
The checks will be made out to Flowers & O’ Brien, LLC, the Hoboken law firm Daitz works for, beginning on or about March 18th, Sarkisian ruled on Friday.
Daitz simply stated “we are very pleased with the court’s decision,” while Flinn declined to comment after the hearing on Friday afternoon.