FEE SHIFTING: THE LAW WHEREIN THE LOSING PARTY (HUDSON COUNTY) IS RESPONSIBLE TO PAY THE WINNING PARTY'S ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS (SGT. FORD)
Since Sgt. Helen Ford prevailed against Hudson County, the County will also be responsible to pay for her attorney's fees over the past 9 years, together with costs of defending her law suit which entailed hiring 3 defense firms:
To represent OSCAR AVILES, former Director of Corrections:
Sean Patrick Joyce, Esquire
Dominick Carmagnola, Esquire
LAW OFFICE OF CARMAGNOLA & RITARDI, LLC
To represent HUDSON COUNTY, including KRUZNIS:
Anthony V. D. Ella, Esquire
Mitzy Galis-Menendez, Esquire
Steven Lawrence Menaker, Esquire
John L. Shahdanian, II, Esquire
Maria Vallejo, Esquire
LAW OFFICE OF CHASAN & LEYNER
To represent HUDSON COUNTY in a counterclaim:
John Joseph Zidiunas, Esquire
LAW OFFICE OF JOHN ZIDIUNAS
To represent SGT. HELEN FORD:
D. Gayle Loftis, Esquire
LAW OFFICE OF D. GAYLE LOFTIS
This Trial has established a practice of having the Legal Department, headed by Donato Battista, send out County Complaints to Third Party Law Firms for investigation at the expense of the taxpayers. EdPDLaw first reported on this in the Ricardo Aviles matter when the County paid the law firm of LeClair Ryan $50,000 to conduct what should have been a criminal investigation. County Counsel, Donato Battista, admitted on the stand that it was not actually the law firm itself that he was sending the work to, but an attorney in the firm named Jospeh P. Paranac, Jr. It was then brought out that Paranac is the same attorney that handled the Ford matter, only he was with a different firm at the time. Paranac was with both Jasinski & Paranac, and then Seiden, Wayne as sited in his biography for LeClair Ryan. Click here to read his biography.
Read excerpt from Battista's testimony:
Q As a corporate counsel, you represent a client, Hudson County?
A That's correct.
Q And your purpose is to advise; correct?
A Yes, that is correct.
Q And in terms of the outside firm that is contracted for -- do you remember what firm that was for the Helen Ford complaint that you referenced?
A I thought it was LeClairRyan. However, the principal of ClairRyan, Joseph Paranac, his firm had various names over a period of time. I think at one point in time it was St. John & Wayne. It may have had another name. But ultimately the individual with whom I dealt with who had the contract was Joseph Paranac. So if the firm who did the investigation was not LeClairRyan, the principal was always the same, Joseph Paranac.
THE COURT: I'm sorry, could you spell his name for me?
THE WITNESS: P-A-R-A-N-A-C, Paranac.
Apparently, this has been occurring for years, Helen Ford's "Third Party Investigation" was conducted by Mr. Paranac in 2005, that is 11 years ago. Ricardo Aviles "Third Party Investigation" was conducted in 2011 by Mr. Paranac as well.
As reported by EdPDLaw on August 8, 2012, Hudson County also employed LeClair Ryan (Paranac) to prepare two Audits, one in 2010 (click to get the 2010 Audit) and one in 2012 (click to get 2012 Audit) to show that there was no harassment, discrimination or retaliation occurring in the County. The Audits were nearly exactly the same and consisted of asking a selected group of employees from every Department 6 Questions. Click here to read Article. LeClair Ryan (Paranac) charged the Hudson County taxpayers approximately $50,000 for each Audit.
Moreover, Hudson County Counsel, Donato Battista helped LeClair Ryan apply for County Contracts, helped them draw up their application (RFQ) and then LeClair Ryan billed the County for Battista's time..... and the taxpayers paid for it!
EdPDLaw will continue to monitor this situation and OPRA costs for legal fees for all involved attorneys.
THANK YOU SGT. FORD FOR FIGHTING TO EXPOSE THIS PATTERN OF CORRUPTION AND GROSS ABUSE OF TAXPAYERS MONIES!
February 25, 2016
HUDSON COUNTY CRASHES AND BURNS AGAIN - TO NO-ONES SURPRISE
CONGRATULATIONS TO SGT. HELEN FORD!
After a 5 week Jury Trial the verdict came back in favor of Sgt. Helen Ford. After deliberating for 2 days the jury found that Hudson County, Oscar Aviles and the newly appointed Deputy Director Ronald Edwards were liable for damages to Sgt. Ford. Both sides are currently filing motions to determine just how much those damages are going to amount to.
Ron Edwards committed an act of Retaliation that violated Helen Ford’s 14thAmendment rights or State law right to be free from gender discrimination
Aviles is liable for the acts of retaliation committed by Edwards Ron Edwards committed an act of Retaliation that violated Helen Ford’s 14thAmendment rights or State law right to be free from gender discrimination Plaintiff proved that she was retaliated against (suspended and terminated in 2006, complaints in 2009, 2010, and 2011) for the exercise of her right to be free from discrimination based upon gender discrimination under the 14th amendment or state law, and that the deprivation resulted from the County’s failure to adequately train, supervise and enforce its policies as to Krusznis, Aviles and/or their subordinates. Ron Edwards committed an act of Retaliation that violated Helen Ford’s 14thAmendment rights or State law right to be free from gender discrimination The Plaintiff was discriminated against by the County by being subjected to an act of retaliation after October 2005 because of her gender. Ron Edwards committed an act of Retaliation that violated Helen Ford’s 14thAmendment rights or State law right to be free from gender discrimination
In what has turned into nearly a 9 year battle in Federal Court, the Complaint in this matter was filed on October 10, 2007. Ford named the County, the Department of Corrections, Oscar Aviles and David Kruznis in a 4 Count Complaint alleging sexual, gender and racial discrimination, disparate treatment, retaliation and violations of the 1st and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.
The following are excerpts from her Complaint:
In August of 2003, the Plaintiff was interviewed by counsel from the County Law Department as a potential witness for a suit in which the County was a Defendant, and she provided information and responses to them concerning topics not within the scope or duties of her position as a training officer. More specifically, she had spoken on subjects that included, but were not limited to:
a) her observations and knowledge of the then-Director of HCDC, (name ommitted, not Aviles) and his inappropriate actions and admitted relationships with various employees, inclusive of a female corrections officer known as (name ommitted), who had been engaged in photographed sexual relationships with the then-Director (not Aviles) and various other County officials and supervisory personnel;
b) the threatening behavior of the then-Director (not Aviles) as had been directed toward the Plaintiff based on her knowledge;
c) preferential treatment given to female correctional officers by the then-Director (not Aviles), and
d) the then-Director’s (not Aviles) efforts to have the Plaintiff lie and/or “cover-up” negative information involving an ex-wife of the then-Director’s (not Aviles) who had applied for County employment.
Gayle Loftis, Esquire described a pattern of behavior that has been happening since at least 2003, 13 years ago, starting with a previous Director.
Ford's Complaint goes on to state:
Systemic sexual harassment, discrimination and disparate treatment of officers based on gender or sex, is an issue of public concern.
Loftis and Ford then go on to describe what happens when Oscar Aviles takes over as Director and how he retaliates against those he does not care for:
From a date in 2005 prior to her return to the Training unit, and up to July 9, 2007, the Defendant, Aviles, held the civilservice rank of Captain within the HCDC, but served in the appointed civilian capacity as the Director of the HCDC.
As the Director of the HCDC, Aviles has been placed in such a position of authority by Defendant Hudson County, as part of the chain of command superior to the Plaintiff, is the individual fully responsible for the operations and administration of the HCDC, and took the actions referenced in this Complaint while acting under color of state law.
The County Executive, Thomas DeGise is the one who makes the appointments to Director and Deputy Director. In fact, he just made those appointments within the past 4 weeks.
The Complaint goes on to state:
In the alternative, Hudson County has permitted the continuation of a policy and/or custom of de facto racial, sexual harassment and gender discrimination and retaliation against female officers of the HCDC even when it has had prior knowledge ofsuch atmosphere by virtue of prior charges, complaints and/or lawsuits of such atmosphere and conduct, and by its failure to implement adequate training and supervision to prevent or remedy such conduct as well as by means of it implementation or condonation of the practices set forth in the prior paragraphs of this Count.
Hudson County has permitted the continuation of a policy and/or custom of de facto discrimination and retaliation against officers of the HCDC who have objected to the unlawful actions of the others in County employ, and by its failure to implement adequate training and supervision to prevent or remedy such conduct as well as by means of it implementation or condonation of the practices set forth in the prior paragraphs of this Count. The actions of the Defendants Aviles and Krusznis are indicative of a malicious intent, and/or a reckless and callous indifference to the federal constitutional rights of the Plaintiff and others females similarly situated.
After Ford made her Complaint to the County, she also reported it to the EEOC who ruled in her favor. She also took it to the Office of Administrative Law which also ruled in her favor. She was interviewed by a Third Party Law Firm. Is any of this sounding familiar? This is a culture that has been going on for at least the last 13 years, led by the heads of the Corrections Department with the blessing of the Legal Department.
This is the exact same scenario that occurred in the Sgt. Ricardo Aviles matter, bringing in the Third Party Law Firm.
Witnesses during the 5 week Trial blamed the Legal Department, specifically County Counsel Donato Battista, Howard Moore and Louis Rosen, Esquire. Kruznis testified that Lou Rosen, Esquire and Director Aviles told him to treat Ford that way. Lou Rosen, Esquire did not testify. Battista testified that former Deputy Director Kirk Eady who is currently sitting in a Federal Prison cell recently retaliated against the Union after being made Deputy Director by tapping the Union and EdPDLaw's telephones.
Lt. Ronald Edwards was just promoted within the past 2 weeks and now has been found liable to Ford for harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Four Captains were bypassed to promote him to the position and he was chosen over at least 2 candidates, not including the 4 captains, whose qualifications are far more distinguished than Edwards.
Director Tish Nalls-Castillo sat with the County, just as she did in the Kirk Eady Trial instead of showing her support for a black female who was similarly situated as Nalls-Castillo when she was bypassed for promotion and sued to be Captain. She was just made "Director of Corrections" after it was proven that she conspired with former Deputy Director Kirk Eady, to bring false charges against, and terminate the Supervisor Union's President, Omar Ortiz.
This is clear evidence that promotions are not being made on merit but on choosing those who will do the dirty work, no matter what it is, right or wrong. legal or not.
Gayle Loftis, Esquire skillfully proved her case by showing a pattern of sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation beginning 15 years ago in 2001. On May 14, 2015, in a letter to the Judge, Loftis wrote that there were at least 59 Complaints filed against supervisors but since the information was supplied by the County, and only pertained to the jail, it was impossible to tell what was being included or omitted. Click here to read the letter.
Congratulations to Sgt. Ford for standing your ground and hanging in there!