Lawrence H. Shapiro

Arbitration of Business Ownership Disputes: Is It Really a Better Alternative Than Litigation?

By Lawrence H. Shapiro

Just as you are unlikely to find a married couple who doesn’t argue from time to time, you’d be hard-pressed to find a business where the co-owners or partners never disagree on matters relating to their company’s direction. While all business owners share the same goal of charting a course for success, they often have different visions of how to get there. And when a consequential dispute between business owners devolves into an intractable and heated conflict, the fate of their interests in the business and the company’s continued viability hang in the balance. That is why it is so important for business owners at loggerheads to find the most effective, efficient way to resolve their stalemate. 

In a previous post, we discussed a variety of dispute resolution mechanisms that business owners can include in their operating agreements and bylaws to help address and resolve deadlocks. One of those options is arbitration. 

Many businesses include arbitration provisions in their organizing documents because they believe arbitration is preferable to litigation. Most business owners recognize that taking matters to court, while sometimes necessary to advance or protect a party’s or the business’ interests, is usually something to avoid. While both processes involve a neutral third party who decides the outcome of the dispute, arbitration is generally perceived as a more efficient, cheaper, and less destructive way to resolve a deadlock.

While arbitration offers many benefits in business ownership disputes, it is not without its faults or potential downsides. If you are considering including an arbitration provision in your governing documents or want to submit a pending dispute to an arbitrator, here are some things to consider. 

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an agreed-upon process in which a third-party neutral selected by the parties considers evidence and testimony submitted by the parties and makes a decision regarding the resolution of the dispute. In this sense, arbitration is similar to traditional litigation before a judge. But there are significant distinctions in both procedure and outcome. While court proceedings are governed by rules of procedure and evidence established by the law and the judge, parties to an arbitration have much more leeway when setting the ground rules for the proceedings. 

And while a judge’s ruling is definitive and conclusive, an arbitrator’s decision can be binding or non-binding. If the parties agree to the former, the arbitrator’s decision is final and can usually be enforced by a court, if necessary. In non-binding arbitration, the parties can abide by the arbitrator’s decision if they so choose but are free to ignore it as well.  

Why Arbitration Is Preferable to Litigation – And Why It Isn’t

As noted above, arbitration and litigation share many characteristics but also have important distinctions. So what makes arbitration a supposedly attractive alternative to fighting things out in litigation, and what potential risks hide behind these presumed benefits? 

More Control Over the Process

Civil lawsuits are governed by strict rules of evidence and procedure, as well as the judge’s rulings, which the litigants must abide by whether or not they like them. In arbitration, the parties have much more power to set their own rules. For example, litigation could involve scores of depositions, expansive document requests, and other intrusive, costly, and lengthy discovery that drain bank accounts and draw out the process for months or years longer than either party would want. In arbitration, however, the parties can agree to limit the extent of discovery, such as setting a maximum number of depositions or placing a tight deadline on when discovery must be completed. 

While this ability to govern the process can benefit both sides, it may ultimately put one party at a significant disadvantage. A party may be unable to obtain the evidence and information that could be crucial to their claim or defense due to agreed-upon discovery limits. And if the parties agree to binding arbitration, the losing side forfeits the ability to challenge or change the outcome as they could in an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling. 

Speedier Resolution

Protracted discovery, ongoing motion practice, and overcrowded court dockets all contribute to why lawsuits may take years before they get to trial or a judge’s dispositive ruling. None of these impediments to a speedy resolution are present in arbitration. The parties can agree that a final hearing must be held by a set deadline, such as 60 or 90 days from the date of the first meeting with the arbitrator. A limit can also be set for the length of the hearing itself.

Lower Costs

The parties’ ability to exert greater control over and place limits on the arbitration process can result in far lower costs than litigation. By restricting discovery and other aspects of the process, the parties can keep legal fees and expenses from spiraling out of control, as often happens in the endless trench warfare that litigation can devolve into. Of course, if the parties give each other as wide a berth in the agreed-upon ground rules of their arbitration as they would have in a lawsuit, any potential savings can go out the window.

For a party with greater resources or bargaining power, arbitration may cause them to inadvertently squander that advantage by leveling the playing field. With expenses limited in arbitration because of a more streamlined and restrictive process, the party with fewer resources can better afford to stay in the fight. 

Keeping the Dispute Out of the Public Eye

Feuding owners are a bad look for any business, especially in the eyes of investors, other shareholders, customers, and suppliers. Since court proceedings are almost always a matter of public record, all of those critical constituencies – as well as the media – will be privy to the dispute’s ugly details. Owners can prevent their dirty laundry from being aired publicly by agreeing to keep the process and outcome of the arbitration confidential.

Sometimes, however, the threat of negative publicity for an owner or the business can give the other side leverage they would lose if they agree to confidential arbitration. This is another way arbitration can be more appealing in theory than practice.

If you have questions about arbitration or how to address disputes between business owners, please contact one of the litigation attorneys at Ansell, Grimm & Aaron.

Rock-Scissors-Paper Won’t Cut It: Effective Mechanisms for Resolving Deadlocks Between Business Owners

By Lawrence H. Shapiro

In sports, no one likes games to end in a tie. They are anti-climactic and disappointing. But in business, ties can have much more significant consequences. When equal shareholders in a closely held corporation, partners in a partnership, or members of a limited liability company find themselves tied – deadlocked – when making significant business decisions, it can put both the ongoing viability of the enterprise and the relationships behind the business in existential peril. And in any company where voting power or equity interests are equally divided, deadlock is always possible, if not a probability.

Management and ownership deadlocks can quickly devolve from disagreements among friends to irreconcilable differences between two soon-to-be-former business partners. Often, such disputes wind up in a courtroom where the fate of the owners and the business they bult together is left in the hands of a judge. Sometimes, litigation is necessary to protect the rights of an owner or preserve the business and its assets. In such circumstances, it is imperative that each owner retain their own experienced business litigation attorney to advise them and work to obtain a favorable outcome that, ideally, protects the business and the owner’s interests.

But litigation between deadlocked business owners can also be costly, disruptive, and lead to results that neither side wants, such as judicial dissolution and liquidation of the business.  Given the foreseeability of deadlock – and the probable negative consequences of an extended stalemate among owners – it is critical that business owners have an effective mechanism in place to resolve these disputes when they arise.

For this reason, deadlock provisions should be included in a business’s foundational documents, such as an operating agreement, partnership agreement, or corporate bylaws. Even if the original versions of such documents do not contain deadlock provisions, amendments can be crafted to address a logjam should it arise. Resolving deadlocks that threaten the future of a business should not be left up to dumb luck.   In fact, coming to an agreement on how to resolve a disagreement is easier while the business owners are getting along than having a court decide after the relationship falls apart.

If you have questions about ownership deadlocks or would like assistance establishing a deadlock resolution for your business, please contact one of the business law attorneys at Ansell, Grimm & Aaron.

September 2022 Newsletter

Klein Helping Clients with Property Sales and Acquisitions Across the State

Jason S. Klein, Esq. (a) assisted a client in the acquisition of a 200-plus unit multifamily complex located in Morris County, through a membership interest purchase, which also included assistance with financing from a large regional bank and multiple 1031 exchanges; (b) assisted a client in the disposition of retail center on the boardwalk in Cape May county; (c) assisted a client in the sale and simultaneous disposition of a property in located on Route 22 in Somerset County; and (d) represented a client in the simultaneous acquisition of two retail properties in Monmouth County, from two (2) separate owners and assisted with negotiating  and closing the acquisition financing in connection therewith with a large New Jersey-based bank.


Come See Us at the CAI Expo on October 20

The Community Association Practice Group will be exhibiting at the New Jersey Community Associations 2022 Annual Conference & Expo on October 20.
The 2022 CAI Conference & Expo will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Event Center @ iPlay America located at 110 Schanck Road, Freehold, NJ.
CAI’s Annual Conference & Expo provides learning and networking opportunities for homeowners, managers, and business partners. Registration is free for all homeowners and community association managers and includes complimentary breakfast and lunch, educational programs, and multiple chances to win $1,000 during the show (must be present to win).
When you are at the expo, please visit us at Booth #823. You can also contact David J. Byrne, Esq. if you wish to set up a meeting with one of our attorneys while you are at the conference.


Brodsky Wins Approval for Projects Across Monmouth County

Zoning and Land Use Department co-chair Rick Brodsky, Esq. had a very productive summer winning approval for several projects before municipal boards throughout the county.

In June, the Shrewsbury Land Use Board voted unanimously to grant Use Variance and site plan approval, permitting the Applicant, Restore Hyper Wellness, to operate a health and wellness facility for customers seeking general wellness and anti-aging services and athletic recovery, including natural reduction of inflammation at 1079 Broad St. In July The Marlboro Township Zoning Board voted unanimously to grant variance and site plan approval permitting the Waitt Funeral Home to undertake significant renovations, upgrades and additions to its existing, long-standing building on Route 79.

Also in July, the Ocean Township Zoning Board, unanimously approved the application of Gold Coast Cadillac, granting site plan approval, with variances, permitting the renovation/expansion of the existing Cadillac car dealership on Route 35.

In August, the Long Branch Planning Board adopted the Resolution of Approval for its July unanimous decision to permit a four-lot Major subdivision application from Chelsea LLC.


Moin, Oliver, and Sherman Join Ansell Grimm & Aaron

Three new attorneys, Irina Moin, Esq., Jonathan Sherman, Esq., and Leigh Oliver, Esq., have joined the firm. Ms. Moin is licensed to practice in NY and NJ and will be joining both the Corporate Finance and Banking Department and Cannabis Law Department.

Ms. Oliver is a new associate in the Family Law practice and Mr. Sherman is working in the Commercial Real Estate Department.


Bauchner Receives New Jersey Law Journal Innovator of the Year Award, Appointed to NJSBA Foundation Committees

Joshua S. Bauchner, Esq. has been named one of the New Jersey Law Journal’s “Innovators of the Year” for 2022. Bauchner is one of just four attorneys in the state selected for the honor.

Bauchner also has been appointed by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation to the Publication Oversight Committee and the Editorial Advisory Board of the Respect Newsletter for 2022-23 by Foundation President Kathleen N. Fennelly, Esq.

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation is committed to the principle that public understanding of our legal system is essential to preserving the liberties that are fundamental to our democracy.



Shapiro and Barber Win Relief Against Prospective Buyer’s False Claim

Through, targeted discovery, Lawrence Shapiro, Esq. and Kelsey Barber, Esq. succeeded in having a contract buyer dismiss its complaint to enforce a contract of sale and discharge a Lis Pendens recorded against AGA’s client’s commercial property. Plaintiff Lebanon 123, LLC sought to compel Kullman Associates, LLC to sell real property known as the Kullman Corporate Campus in Lebanon, New Jersey for $13,500,000.

Kullman terminated the contract and refused to transfer title claiming that Plaintiff failed to meet its contractual obligations, including fully funding the deposit. Despite representations from the title company escrow agent that the deposit was received, AGA’s strategic discovery uncovered evidence that the deposit was never fully funded and, in fact, what had been funded was returned to Plaintiff, even before the suit was filed. AGA then moved for summary judgment and put Plaintiff on notice of their claims being frivolous which resulted in Plaintiff voluntarily dismissing its complaint and freeing the property for Kullman’s use and remarketing.


Bauchner to Moderate NJSBA Cannabis Law seminar

Joshua Bauchner, Esq. and Lisa Gora, Esq. of Epstein Becker & Green, PC will moderate a discussion on the latest developments in cannabis law at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, on October 26.

The topics covered in the seminar include:

  •  Psychedelics — The New Cannabis
  •  Cannabis in NJ Towns: Municipal and Local Applicant Perspectives
  •  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

There will also be a Q & A session The event runs from 2-5 p.m. and a companion webcast will be available online. Attendees can receive Continuing Legal Education credit for NJ, PA, and NY. Information on the credits provided is available on the event registration page.

A happy hour will follow at the Law Center, after which the NJSBA Cannabis Law Committee, which Bauchner and Gora co-chair, will convene.


Court Case Corrects Planning Board Denial

Litigation Department co-chair Lawrence Shapiro, Esq. succeeded in overturning the Planning Board of the Borough of Rumson’s denial of an application to subdivide property into two developable lots.

In overcoming the Board’s decision on behalf of the applicant, Michael McCarty, Shapiro demonstrated that the Board had erred in siding with objecting neighbors in refusing to grant minimal variances of lot circle, front yard setback, and lot width/frontage.

Notably, the Court reversed the Board’s decision resulting in the approval of the subdivision, with variances, on behalf of the applicant. In doing so, the Court found the Board’s reasoning to be a “sham” for its desire to maintain larger lot sizes in the zone.


Rosenstein Wins Long Court Battle to Protect Client

Ansell Grimm & Aaron, PC was retained by a trucking and rigging company after one of its employees sustained substantial injuries on a jobsite. Despite the project being covered by an Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP), the contractor that retained our client failed to notify our client of the OCIP and did not enroll our client in the program. Making matters worse, our client’s insurance brokers failed to identify and advise the client about an exclusion in its commercial general liability policy that contained an “Absolute Employee and Worker Injury and Liability Exclusion endorsement,” leaving our client vulnerable to the claims asserted in the action. While our client was shielded against direct liability from the plaintiffs, the employee filed an action against the other entities involved in the project — some of whom subsequently filed a third-party action against our client.

Seth Rosenstein, Esq. of AGA’s litigation practice group handled this matter, aggressively defending the action and adding the client’s insurance brokers as fourth-party defendants on the basis that but for their negligence, the client would not have been left without insurance coverage for third-party action claims. After over four years of litigation, our efforts resulted in an ideal settlement whereby our client did not contribute any funds to the settlement and received a global release from all parties involved.

Ansell Grimm & Aaron 2021 Litigation Roundup

As the world continues to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, and millions of small and mid-sized businesses continue to be confronted with unprecedented challenges, the attorneys in Ansell Grimm & Aaron’s Litigation Department assisted the Firm’s clients in protecting their businesses and livelihoods. Led by co-chairs Lawrence Shapiro and Joshua Bauchner, and assisted by attorneys Barry Capp, Anthony D’Artiglio, Stefan Erwin, Rahool Patel, Seth Rosenstein, and Ashley Whitney, the Department is pleased to share its numerous successes.


Bankruptcy Litigation & Debtor/Creditor Matters

Ansell Grimm & Aaron successfully compelled conversion of a meritless Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 and convinced the Court to vacate an extension of the automatic stay to principal’s of the Debtor company. Debtor filed a Chapter 11 petition in the District of New Jersey just before it and its principals were scheduled to face trial in the Western District of Missouri on multi-million dollar fraudulent scheme related to the sale of a business. Led by Joshua S Bauchner and Anthony J. D’Artiglio, the firm successfully convinced the Court to vacate an extension of the automatic stay to the principals of Debtor who sought to utilize the Bankruptcy to shield themselves from liability. Furthermore, we vigorously opposed confirmation of a meritless Plan of Reorganization, culminating in Debtor voluntarily converting its Chapter 11 reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation requiring the appointment of a Trustee to pursue our client’s and other creditors’ interests. As a result, the adversary complaint and related Bankruptcy matters were dismissed in New Jersey permitting the action to proceed to trial in Missouri.


Breach of Contract Litigation

The Ansell Grimm & Aaron team continued its efforts to recover sums owed to its clients in connection with finance agreements and contracts for the provision of certain services. We doggedly pursued our clients’ counterparties who absconded with loaned funds and enjoyed the benefit of services rendered, resulting in substantial recoveries and settlements for our dedicated and hard-working clients. By way of example, in one action brought on behalf of a trucking insurance agency that guaranteed payments for its client, the insured failed to make millions of dollars in payments under its finance agreement and created a new entity to hide its property and assets from collection. We aggressively tracked down the fraudulently transferred assets, brought the insured’s owner and his new entity into the action, and secured a favorable settlement prior to trial.


Partnership Dispute Litigation

The firm successfully obtained temporary restraints enacted to avoid continued irreparable harm to our client in a derivative action asserting claims against our client’s former business partners for, inter alia, unfair competition, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty, based on their acts of engaging in direct competition with their shared business and allowing their family members to use the company’s proprietary information to siphon clients and profits from the business. The temporary restraints prevented all competition with our client’s business and provided the leverage necessary to negotiate a dissolution of the business which allowed our client to extricate himself and pursue independent ventures.


Real Estate Litigation

The firm works closely with real estate professionals across the region to protect their rights and put practices in place to minimize potential liability. In an action filed earlier this year on behalf of a Hudson County-based real estate broker, the Firm sued a national real estate developer after the failure to pay a referral fee offered under the developer’s agreement with local brokers. These efforts resulted in our client recovering a substantial portion of the referral fee owed to it, and the same broker subsequently engaged our team to revise their agreements used with clients — and to speak with the broker’s team of agents about mitigating risk and general best practices.


FINRA Matters

In addition to serving as a Financial Industry Resolution Authority (FINRA) Dispute Resolution Services arbitrator, associate Seth Rosenstein also practices before FINRA arbitration panels. In an arbitration filed against a national broker-dealer, the Firm sought an award requiring removal of incorrect and misleading information set forth on the broker-dealer’s Form U5 issued for our client, and for the expungement and removal of the information from FINRA’s Central Registration Depository and BrokerCheck system. Our efforts resulted in the broker-dealer issuing an amended Form U5 that removed the incorrect and misleading information, correcting an injustice that falsely besmirched our client’s reputation.


Police Benevolent Association Matters

Earlier this year, Attorney Ashley V. Whitney filed an appeal with the New Jersey Supreme Court challenging an opinion from the Appellate Division which upheld the termination of a police officer with no prior discipline for alleged violations of the Criminal Justice Information System through his use of full-disclosure vehicle registration searches despite the police department’s failure to identify a single full-disclosure search conducted without justification. The Appellate Division’s decision may have a lasting impact upon the law enforcement community as the performance of searches by police has not been significantly addressed by New Jersey Courts since the decision in State v. Donis, 157 N.J. 44 (1998). The decision is especially pertinent to the issues facing police as it comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in the matter of In re AG Law Enf’t Directive Nos. 2020-5 & 2020-6, 2021 N.J. LEXIS 486 (June 7, 2021), which upheld the New Jersey Attorney General’s Directives requiring the release of the names of police officers who receive major discipline.

Ms. Whitney continued her prior practice of the representation of police officers as a member of the PBA Legal Protection Plan at the Firm’s Woodland Park office, which included the defense of a high-ranking correctional police officer served with inflated disciplinary charges seeking termination. Following a departmental hearing and the presentation of favorable witness testimony, the employer decreased the proposed penalty from termination to suspension and we are awaiting a final decision.


Class Action Litigation

Ansell Grimm & Aaron successfully obtained dismissal of a nationwide class action in the District of New Jersey for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff brought claims against related to beauty products against the seller, shipper, and a host of individuals and entities. We filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(1) asserting the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction as a result of a pre-litigation, full refund offer by our client to the aggrieved consumer. The Court agreed that the full refund offer made in the ordinary course of business operated to moot Plaintiff’s claims, and dismissed the entire action.


Public Entity Litigation

Ansell Grimm & Aaron successfully secured summary against Plaintiff on a multi-million dollar claim against the City of Bayonne, wherein Plaintiff alleged that Bayonne discriminated against him when it condemned and subsequently demolished a rental property he owned because it was unsafe. We successfully convinced the Court that the claims were barred by the statute of limitations, that the demolition did not constitute a taking within the meaning of  11 U.S.C. 1983, and that Plaintiff’s tort claims could not be asserted against a municipality as a matter of law, leading to dismissal of the entire case.


Ansell Grimm & Aaron Welcomes Lateral Hire to Woodland Park Office

We are pleased to announce Stefan J. Erwin, Esq. has joined Ansell Grimm & Aaron. Mr. Erwin is a Trial Attorney who came to Ansell from an established Newark practice where he represented the largest cities in New Jersey. Mr. Erwin brings nearly a decade of experience to the firm specializing in complex commercial litigation, criminal defense, appellate practice, labor and employment law, public entity, and civil rights. Mr. Erwin graduated from Rutgers University with dual degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice, and then attended Rutgers Law School where he interned for the Honorable Noel Hillman in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable James Hely, J.S.C. of the Superior Court Law Division in Union County. He has taught public school children a course in Constitutional Law, founded a local community garden, and sat on the board of a charter school. Mr. Erwin has received several favorable jury verdicts for his clients in the Public Defender’s Office where he litigated cases from inception through appeal.


Best of the Best

It is with great pleasure that Ansell Grimm & Aaron, PC has been named “Best of the Best” Law Firm in the 2021 Official Community Choice Awards published by the Asbury Park Press. This recognition is greatly appreciated as it was not determined by the Bar or another professional organization, but rather by the community we serve on a daily basis.

Quarterly Litigation Department Roundup: April 2021

As the world continues to face the coronavirus pandemic, and millions of small businesses remain 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 Barry Capp, Anthony D’Artiglio, Rahool Patel, Seth Rosenstein, Ashley Whitney, and, our newest member, Courtney Dunn, the Department is pleased to share its numerous successes.

Real Estate Litigation

In a recent matter before the Honorable Henry P. Butehorn in Monmouth County, Lawrence Shapiro and Seth Rosenstein were successful in securing summary judgment in favor of their clients as to all claims prior to trial.  Plaintiffs asserted causes of action sounding in common law fraud, violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, Unjust Enrichment, Negligence, Breach of Contract, and Equitable Servitude in connection with their purchase of real property in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  The sellers, who own the property sold to Plaintiffs as well as an adjoining property, prohibited the buyers from utilizing a walkway on sellers’ adjoining property to access the rear entrance to buyers’ home.  The buyers asserted that representations were made by sellers as to their ability to utilize sellers’ walkway, and that they overpaid for their property if there was no access through the rear entrance.

Judge Butehorn’s Order found that there was no basis upon which to establish claims for common law fraud or Consumer Fraud against the defendants.  Specifically, the Court agreed with AGA’s argument that any representation as to walkway access on adjacent property was not part of the transaction at issue and thus could not serve as a basis for a claim of fraud or consumer fraud.

Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court’s summary judgment order, which was denied, confirming the victory for our client.

Appellate Litigation

Barry Capp succeeded before the Appellate Division in upholding the validity of the City of Asbury Park’s short-term rental (Air BnB) ordinance, which permitted and established procedures for the short-term rental of residential properties. The plaintiff filed a complaint in the Law Division, Monmouth County, alleging that the ordinance was adopted improperly and that Ordinance itself was facially invalid.

The Ordinance defines those classifications of properties where short-term rentals are both permitted and prohibited. It further establishes a permitting process for property owners who wish to utilize their properties as short-term rentals. Plaintiff asserted a challenge to the manner in which the Ordinance was adopted, claiming that it creates a “new” use of residential property that is a non-permitted and, therefore, was required to be adopted as a zoning ordinance pursuant to the procedures contained in the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL). Plaintiff further claimed that the use of residential property for short-term rentals violates the City of Asbury Park’s zoning ordinance and therefore was required to be invalidated.

In a thirteen (13) page unanimous decision, and a major victory for the City of Asbury Park, the Appellate Division upheld the City’s actions in adopting the Ordinance and its validity pursuant to its municipal police powers. In so doing, the Appellate Division affirmed the right of owners of certain classifications of property to use their properties as short-term rentals pursuant to procedures established by the City of Asbury Park and its governing body.

Bankruptcy Litigation

Joshua Bauchner and Anthony D’Artiglio are pursuing a multi-million dollar cure dispute in Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court, seeking to compel a retail Debtor who operated a chain of grocery stores to pay for numerous, needed repairs to a large production and distribution facility.  The Debtor failed to maintain the property in the condition required by the Lease, leading to large scale deterioration.  The case presents interesting legal questions at the intersection of commercial landlord-tenant law and Bankruptcy law, particularly in light of the new tenant’s assumption of the Lease “as is” as part of the Bankruptcy proceedings.

Class Action Litigation

Joshua Bauchner and Rahool Patel continue the defense of multiple class actions filed against New Jersey Retrofitness gym franchises.  This now seven-year old litigation is on remand from the Appellate Division, where the firm successfully secured the dismissal of seven of the eight claims, dramatically narrowing the scope of the litigation.  As a result of numerous procedural challenges encountered by plaintiffs, the matter is back at the pleading stage ensuring our already strapped gym clients are not at risk of liability anytime soon.

COVID-19 Litigation

Department attorneys continue to represent 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 many clients, and are preparing for what is understood to be the first trial in the State addressing the impact of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders restricting operations.

Policeman Benevolent Association Litigation

Ashley Whitney is waiting on a decision from the Appellate Division involving the termination of a police officer with no prior discipline for alleged Criminal Justice Information Systems violations under State v. Donis, through his use of full-disclosure searches despite the police department’s failure to identify a single full-disclosure search conducted without justification.  The Appellate Division’s decision could have lasting implications for police officers as there is little case law addressing the application of Donis in this context.

Ms. Whitney also is continuing her prior practice of the representation of police officers as a member of the PBA Legal Protection Plan at the Firm’s Woodland Park office and is currently defending a high-ranking correctional police officer served with inflated disciplinary charges.

Personnel Successes

Courtney Dunn joined as an associate with the Firm. Prior to joining Ansell Grimm & Aaron, Ms. Dunn practiced commercial litigation along with sports and entertainment law, labor and employment law, and toxic tort law at a firm in New York City. Ms. Dunn received her juris doctor, cum laude, from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University where she was a Pro Bono Scholar and worked as a research assistant to Professor Donald L. Doernberg. During law school, Ms. Dunn interned for Justice Terry J. Ruderman, J.S.C. of the Supreme Court of New York.  She also served as an Articles Editor on the Pace International Law Review and was a member of the Moot Court Honors Board.

Following law school, Ms. Dunn served as a law clerk to The Honorable Judge Craig L. Wellerson, the Presiding Civil Division Judge of the Ocean Vicinage of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Ms. Dunn is admitted to practice in New Jersey and New York as well as the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York

Anthony D’Artiglio was named as “One To Watch” by Best Lawyers Magazine, for commercial litigation.  We congratulate Mr. D’Artiglio on this remarkable achievement.

How a Case Reversed a 100+ Year Precedent and Cleared the Way for Cost-Effective Shore Protections

The impact of the ‘Karan’ decision has and will continue to ripple through New Jersey courts for years to come.

For decades, towns along the coastlines of America have faced a never-ending battle against beach erosion and the damage caused by both major, as well as the cumulative effect of smaller, storms. These storms impact beaches, beachfront, and inland properties and infrastructure. The changes in our climate only will serve to exacerbate these issues. (more…)

An Association Need Not Accommodate Every “Emotional Support” Animal-Related Accommodation Request

The following update from Ansell Grimm & Aaron’s Community Association Practice regarding “emotional support” animals may be of interest. On behalf of one of our clients, we secured a New Jersey Judge ruling that an alleged disabled resident, with an alleged emotional support animal, is not entitled to either proceed summarily or obtain early victory. Instead, the owner must show that the claim of an emotional support animal is not a pretext to avoid an association’s dog-related weight limit

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Shapiro delivers back-to-back victories for AGA clients

In two different trials, held in two consecutive weeks, in two different counties, Lawrence Shapiro, Esq., co-chair of Ansell Grimm & Aaron, PC’s litigation department, attained victories for clients of the Firm.  The first involved a battle between neighbors over the use of a private beach and access to the bay on Long Beach Island in Ocean County.  The Court ruled that the Diaz family, represented by Shapiro and AGA, had superior rights to the beach and could exclude the intruding neighbors from using the beach and accessing the waters of the bay through their property.

In the second matter in Monmouth County, Shapiro obtained a judgment in favor of Vingo, a popular New Jersey liquor store chain, against BPS, Inc. trading as Bankcard Payment Services who had installed credit card processing equipment at two of Vingo’s stores.  Shapiro was able to overcome vigorous and repeated attempts by BPS to have the case dismissed pursuant to Merchant Service Agreements and various legal doctrines including laches and Vingo’s own negligence which BPS asserted barred Vingo’s claims and the court from granting relief to Vingo.  At the conclusion of the trial, the Court entered judgment in favor of Vingo against BPS for over $60,000 in charges made by customers on Discover Cards over a two year period that were not properly processed by BPS and for which no payments were received by Vingo.

See: Diaz v. Esposito Family Trust, John Lombardi, Aster Lombardi, Irene Lombardi, Arthur Medeiros, Christine Medeiros, Docket No. OCN-C-11-16 and Vinvigo, LLC t/a Vingo Wine & Spirits v. Bankcard Payment Services, et al., Docket No. MON-L-3859-14.

Ansell Grimm & Aaron attorneys regularly represent clients in real property and business related litigation matters. For additional information, please contact Lawrence H. Shapiro, Esq. (; 732-643-5257

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For more than 85 years, ANSELL GRIMM & AARON, PC has been dedicated to providing excellent legal representation. In providing zealous advocacy and skilled legal advice to our diverse clientele, our attorneys all practice with a common philosophy… commitment to excellence and commitment to people. For more information, visit us at


Shapiro and Bauchner to lead AGA Litigation Department

ANSELL GRIMM & AARON, PC is pleased to announce the appointment of Lawrence H. Shapiro and Joshua S. Bauchner as Co-Chairs of its Litigation Department, effective September 1, 2016.

For nearly 100 years, commercial enterprises and individuals throughout the northeast region and beyond have looked to Ansell Grimm & Aaron to obtain positive outcomes in matters of dispute resolution and complex litigation. The attorneys who comprise the firm’s litigation practice group offer extensive legal acumen as well as an in-depth understanding of commercial operations in banking, energy, apparel, media, health, and real estate. The firm’s litigation practice group engages at the trial and appellate levels in both State and Federal courts, as well as in arbitration and mediation proceedings, throughout New Jersey and New York.

Our litigators’ experience is marked by an in-depth understanding of commercial and industrial operations as well as an unwavering commitment to the individuals and businesses we serve. That commitment extends beyond the courtroom. When appropriate, the firm will always seek to leverage those windows of opportunity that allow for settlement or less costly — and often creative — legal solutions.

Larry and Josh will Co-Chair a robust and growing Litigation Department, including attorneys James G. Aaron, Michael H. Ansell, Barry M. Capp, Breanne M. DeRaps, Jay B. Feldman, Mark M. Wiechnik, and recent hire, Anthony J. D’Artiglio.

For additional information concerning the Litigation Department, please contact Larry or Josh at or, or at (732) 922-1000.