NJ Commercial Debt Forgiveness

Mr. Malc represented a client who received two commercial loans totaling $930,000.00.  The loans were insured by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”).  When the client’s up-and-coming business fell victim to extraordinary challenges, the business shuttered, and the loans could not be repaid.  Mr. Malc’s client did all it could to mitigate damages to the Bank, including selling assets to repay a portion of the debt. Despite those efforts, the Bank filed a foreclosure complaint to foreclose the mortgages that secured the two loans, and also filed a separate complaint to collect the unpaid balance of the loans.

Mr. Malc challenged both lawsuits in court and was able to hold them in abeyance while settlement discussions ensued.  Mr. Malc spent approximately two years negotiating with the lending bank, the SBA, and the United States Treasury.  With accrued interest, the bank was seeking to collect nearly $1.2 million dollars from Mr. Malc’s client.

In the end, using multiple litigation and settlement strategies, Mr. Malc was able to get the bank and the SBA to forgive the debt, release the personal guarantors, and discharge the mortgages.  With the mortgages discharged, Mr. Malc’s client was able to sell his home for a sizable profit and get out from under crippling debt.

If you are facing foreclosure or a collection lawsuit, whether it is related to residential, commercial or SBA-backed debt, Ryan S. Malc, Esq. has the knowledge and experience to guide you through that process and to assist you in achieving the best possible results.

Contact Ryan Malc at 732-363-0666 Ext 254, or send him an email at rmalc@bathweg.com.

How Is COVID-19 Impacting The Legal System?

The effects of COVID-19 on our way of life are felt everywhere.  No matter what you do for a living, your work has undoubtedly been affected by Covid.  The legal field is no different.  If you are involved in a lawsuit, you know full well that Covid has made a slow process significantly slower—especially if your matter is bogged down in the court system, where access to the courtroom is extremely limited.

Since COVID reared its ugly head, I have been advising my clients to consider alternate methods of resolving their legal disputes.  Clients who have taken that advice are happy they did.  Those alternate methods include mediation and arbitration.  While courts are dealing with unprecedented backlogs of cases, lawsuits are lingering, legal fees are rising, and disputes that in normal times would have already been scheduled for trial, are left unresolved. For those reasons, litigants who are willing to explore mediation or arbitration are resolving their disputes much faster and more cost effectively than those who are less flexible.

What Is the Difference Between Mediation & Arbitration?

Mediation is a process where the mutual consent of the parties is necessary to resolve a dispute.  Essentially, mediation is similar to a settlement conference where a hired mediator acts as an intermediary to assist the parties in reaching a resolution.  While the process itself is voluntary, any agreement reached at a mediation will be binding on all parties.  It is the most cost-effective method of resolving a dispute.

Arbitration is much different than mediation.  Parties can voluntarily submit their matter to arbitration, or, depending on the nature of the parties’ relationship, they can be contractually obligated to resolve their dispute through arbitration.  Arbitration is similar to a trial but is held outside of the courthouse and is presided by an arbitrator, who is typically hired by the parties.  At the arbitration hearing, the parties present testimony and documentary evidence, just as they would in a trial.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the arbitrator issues a decision, which is binding on the parties and, except for very rare circumstances, is not subject to reversal by appeal.

Whichever alternative dispute resolution process works for you, our firm has been resolving disputes between parties outside of court for decades. Ocean and Monmouth County residents looking to expedite the legal process and have their issues resolved in a cost-efficient manner can contact Ryan S. Malc, Esq. of Bathgate Wegener & Wolf.

Justice Prevails As Ryan S. Malc, Esq. Successfully Defends Marijuana And Paraphernalia Charges On Behalf Of His Client

Ryan S. Malc, Esq. recently defended a man who was charged in Neptune City, NJ with possession of under 50 grams of marijuana and possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia.  Mr. Malc’s client was stopped after allegedly making an illegal left turn.

During the stop, the police officer asked Mr. Malc’s client to exit his vehicle, whereupon a comprehensive search of the vehicle was conducted. During the search, the police officer allegedly found a zip locked bag of marijuana, a grinder, and a roach clip.  Mr. Malc’s client was placed under arrest and his request to see the evidence allegedly found during the search was denied by the police officer.

Based on the facts described above, Mr. Malc filed a motion with the Neptune City Municipal Judge to suppress the evidence allegedly found during the motor vehicle search.  Mr. Malc’s motion was granted.  Once the evidence was suppressed, Mr. Malc filed another motion to dismiss all charges against his client.  That motion was also granted.  On the day the charges were dismissed, Mr. Malc’s client welcomed his first child into the world.  Needless to say, it was a great day for this client—justice prevailed and a beautiful baby girl was born.

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or any other drug, give Mr. Malc a call for a free consultation.

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE IN NEW JERSEY

With Governor-elect Phil Murphy poised to take the helm as New Jersey’s next Governor, recreational marijuana supporters are beginning to feel giddy.  A major platform of Mr. Murphy’s campaign for Governor was to put an end to the prohibition against recreational marijuana in the State of New Jersey.  Some say the rationale for doing so is motivated by the estimated $300 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales.  While recognizing the benefit of a new revenue stream from recreational marijuana sales, which may fund education programs and public workers’ pension, Mr. Murphy points to criminal justice reform as his primary reason for legalization.  For supporters, legalizing marijuana is a win-win no matter the primary reason.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, controls which bills the Senate will debate and vote on.  He has stated that his goal is to pass recreational marijuana legislation within the first 100 days of the Murphy administration.   State Senator Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, the sponsor of the Recreational Marijuana Bill (S3195), which has been undergoing revisions since he introduced it on May 18, 2017, has pronounced it is full steam ahead for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Now that Governor Christie is on his way out of Trenton and will no longer pose as an impassable obstacle to recreational marijuana legislation, it is expected that hearings on the pending bill will be scheduled in short order.  Mr. Scutari has stated that he would like to try to develop language that would promote marijuana entrepreneurship among minority communities, who Mr. Murphy aptly recognized have been disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests and convictions.  As initially introduced, (S3195) will do the following:

  • Legalize individual possession for those over the age of 21 of up to one ounce of marijuana; 16 ounces of products infused with the drug in solid form; 72 ounces in liquid form and seven grams of marijuana concentrate.
  • Create a Division of Marijuana Enforcement within the state Department of Law and Public Safety and direct that agency to set up regulations and licensure programs for growers and distributors within a year of the bill’s passage.
  • Decriminalize possession of up to 50 grams immediately, limiting fines to $100 until the regulated industry gets up and running and creates a system for marijuana offenders to expunge their criminal records.
  • Set up an escalating sales tax on marijuana starting at seven percent in the first year, 10 percent in the second and jumping five percent each year thereafter to a final tax rate of 25 percent.
  • Prohibit growing marijuana at home and ban its use in public.
Mr. Murphy will assume the Governorship on January 16, 2018.  According to Senator Sweeney, the goal is to legalize recreational marijuana within the first 100 days, which would be by April 26, 2018.  We don’t know whether that goal will be accomplished, but what we do know is that we now have a Governor who will be ready, willing and eager to sign the bill into law when it arrives at his desk.

If you have a question about your rights as a medical marijuana user or questions about legal issues that may arise if recreational marijuana is legalized in New Jersey, please feel free to contact Ryan S. Malc, Esq. at 732-363-0666 or at rmalc@bathweg.com.

LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA IN NEW JERSEY

The statewide debate over the legalization or decriminalization of recreational marijuana continues to advance at a rapid pace.  According to recent polls conducted by New Jersey Advanced Media, upwards of 90% of its readers believe marijuana should be legalized.  Despite an overwhelming majority of people in New Jersey who support the legalization of marijuana, and the recent proposal of a bill by State Senator Nicholas Scutari that would do just that, Governor Christie continues to rebuke the idea as “beyond stupidity.”

As Governor Christie’s final term in office draws to an unpopular end, his opinion and disparaging comments directed at marijuana supporters have become less and less meaningful. Time will soon tell how the next administration deals with this pressing issue, but it appears that change is imminent.  Democratic candidates Ambassador Phillip Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Jim Johnson support legalization of marijuana while Senator Ray Lesniak supports decriminalization.  Republican candidates Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli support decriminalization.

In the meantime, however, on May 15, 2017, Senator Scutari introduced a bill that would make recreational marijuana legal in New Jersey.  Senator Scutari’s proposed measure would do the following:

  • Legalize individual possession for those over the age of 21 of up to one ounce of marijuana; 16 ounces of products infused with the drug in solid form; 72 ounces in liquid form and seven grams of marijuana concentrate.​
  •  Create a Division of Marijuana Enforcement within the state Department of Law and Public Safety and direct that agency to set up regulations and licensure programs for growers and distributors within a year of the bill’s passage.
  •  Decriminalize possession of up to 50 grams immediately, limiting fines to $100 until the regulated industry gets up and running and creates a system for marijuana offenders to expunge their criminal records.
  • Set up an escalating sales tax on marijuana starting at seven percent in the first year, 10 percent in the second and jumping five percent each year thereafter to a final tax rate of 25 percent.
  • ​Prohibit growing marijuana at home and ban its use in public.
The process of passing a bill is time consuming and includes legislative hearings and votes in the Senate and Assembly.  If a bill legalizing marijuana is passed, Governor Christie has vowed to veto it. Nevertheless, by the time our next governor is sworn in, Senator Scutari’s bill may be waiting for his or her signature.  Until then, we can all expect that the debate over the legalization of recreational marijuana will continue, energizing supporters and objectors alike.

​If you have a question about your rights as a medical marijuana user or questions about legal issues that may arise if recreational marijuana is legalized or decriminalized in New Jersey, please feel free to contact Ryan S. Malc, Esq. at 732-363-0666 or at Rmalc@bathweg.com.

Medical Marijuana: Smoke At Your Own Risk

The use of marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes, is a hotly debated issue in our country.  Like many divisive issues, strong opinions exist on both sides of the debate.  There are currently twenty-eight (28) states, plus the District of Columbia, that have passed laws permitting the use of medical marijuana, subject to various limitations.  Eight states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed laws legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. 

In 2010, New Jersey passed into law the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.  There are over 11,000 New Jersey residents who have been issued ID cards permitting them to purchase medical marijuana at one of the State’s five (5) dispensaries.  New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, like all other similar laws around the country that legalize the use of medical or recreational marijuana, is at odds with Federal Law that prohibits the use of marijuana.  Recently, the conflicts between State and Federal Laws relating to the use of marijuana have met head-on in New Jersey Federal Courts, mainly in the context of employment law.

For example, on February 22, 2017, the United States District Court in New Jersey granted a motion to dismiss by the defendant employer, Robert Half Corporation.  The plaintiff, Thomas Barrett, was a New Jersey medical marijuana ID holder and an employee of Robert Half Corporation.  He was terminated from his employment after testing positive for marijuana. Although Mr. Barrett gave notice to his employer that he was a participant in the medical marijuana program due to severe back pain from an auto accident, the Federal District Court judge ruled that the notice did not constitute a request for accommodation of a disability.  For that reason, Mr. Barrett’s case was dismissed.

By way of further example, Jason Wild was diagnosed with cancer.  To help deal with the effects of cancer, his doctors prescribed him medical marijuana.  He worked during the day at a funeral home, and smoked medical marijuana at night to help ease his pain.  His employer, Carriage Services, learned about Mr. Wild’s medical marijuana use when he disclosed it to hospital personnel after he was involved in a car accident.  Upon receiving this information, the employer fired Mr. Wild.

Mr. Wild filed a lawsuit against Carriage Services alleging violations of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.  He also asserted a claim for Defamation arising out of his bosses’ alleged statements to other funeral directors warning them that Mr. Wild is a drug addict.  On February 28, 2017, Carriage Services filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Wild’s complaint.  In support of its motion, Carriage Services advanced the following arguments: (1) because Mr. Wild never requested an accommodation related to his medical marijuana use, he does not have a valid claim pursuant to New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, and (2) the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is pre-empted by Federal Law.

As of the date of this article, the Federal Court has not yet ruled on Carriage Service’s motion to dismiss. Undoubtedly, both objectors and advocates of medical marijuana will be keeping a close eye on the outcome of Mr. Wild’s case.  Interestingly, there is legislation pending in the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly that would essentially make it illegal for an employer to take adverse employment action against an employee who is a registered medical marijuana ID holder and tests positive for marijuana use.  The bill, S-2161, has not yet received an up or down vote.   Unless and until this legislation is passed or there is a change in Federal Law, New Jersey medical marijuana users will have to smoke at their own risk.​

To discuss the interplay between State and Federal Laws relating to the use of marijuana, or any other legal issues, feel free to contact Ryan S. Malc, Esq. at 732-363-0666 or at Rmalc@bathweg.com.

When Losing Family Trust Equals Losing Family Fortune

There is no emotional equivalent to the loss of your parents.  But when you couple the sting of that loss with the realization that you’ve been disinherited from their estate, your sadness can quickly turn to anger, resentment and a sense of betrayal. 

A recent decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division in a case titled In the Matter of the Estate of Kenneth E. Jameson, Deceased, addressed the issue of child disinheritance.  Friction between the now deceased parents, Kenneth and Yvonne, and their daughter, Stacy, began in 1982 when the parents discovered Stacy had become friends with Marc, a Jewish man whom she met in college.  The friction intensified when that friendship progressed to a committed relationship.  Upon learning of the relationship, the parents allegedly forbade Stacy from talking, socializing and having any contact with Marc because he was Jewish.

When Stacy refused to end her relationship with Marc, her parents cut off all financial support they had been giving and advised her that she was no longer welcome in their home.  Thereafter, the parents visited Stacy from time to time, but their conversations during those visits inevitably always turned sour.  According to court documents, during one visit, Kenneth backhanded Stacy hard enough to give her a black eye.  On another visit, Kenneth threatened to physically harm Marc.

In 1987, Kenneth and Yvonne executed separate Last Wills and Testaments.  Article 4 of Kenneth’s Will contained a provision that stated the following:

As an extremely loving and devoted parent, I found that the love, care and concern which I lavished on my daughter was not acknowledged or returned in any way by my daughter.  Instead, she acted toward me with selfishness, manipulation, cruelty, and with abusiveness.  My daughter … blatantly lied to and about me, acted with hatefulness and vindictiveness towards me, and was abusive and physically violent towards me.  [Stacy’s] shameful and hateful behavior towards me and her mother has brought me to my carefully considered decision that [Stacy] is to receive absolutely nothing from my estate.

Stacy and Marc married in 1990.  In response to an invitation to the wedding, Kenneth allegedly told Marc that “they would not attend the wedding because they would never endorse their daughter marrying a Jew.”  Stacy and Marc now have three children.  Kenneth refused to meet them.Kenneth died in 2014.  His Will was admitted to probate and Stacy was provided a copy of it.  Stacy and Marc filed a Complaint against Kenneth’s estate claiming in part that the statements contained in Article 4 of the Will were “totally inaccurate and completely fabricated.”  The Complaint alleged, among other things, that Kenneth’s Will was invalid because it was the product of undue influence, that it was invalid because of religious discrimination, and that the Will was libelous as to Stacy.  In response to the Complaint, Kenneth’s estate filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to R. 4:6-2(e).  The trial court heard argument on the motion and entered an order dismissing the Complaint.  Stacy and Marc appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the Complaint.  Regarding the allegation of undue influence, the Court reiterated that persuasion or suggestions or the possession of influence and the opportunity to exert it, will not suffice to establish undue influence.  The influence must be such that it destroys the testator’s free agency and causes him to dispose of his property not by his own desires, but instead by the will of another, which the testator is unable to overcome.  The factual record did not support such a finding.

Regarding the allegation of religious discrimination, the Court concluded that New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination does not apply to testamentary dispositions, and that even if the disinheritance was based on an unreasonable discriminatory prejudice, that is still not a ground to invalidate the Will.  The Court, likewise, was not persuaded by Stacy’s argument that Article 4 of the Will was libelous.  Libel occurs when a person makes a defamatory statement that is false and injurious to the reputation of another or exposes another person to hatred, contempt or ridicule.  A cause of action for libel arises upon the “publication” of the defamatory statement.  Stacy argued that admitting the Will to probate was akin to publication.  The Appellate Division disagreed. In the end, Kenneth’s Will was held to be valid and its provisions were enforced.

Bathgate Wegener & Wolf, P.C. has extensive experience in both defending the validity of testamentary documents on behalf of an Estate and challenging them on behalf of disinherited family members or unfairly treated beneficiaries. Please contact Ryan S. Malc, Esq. at 732-363-0666 if you have a question regarding the validity of a Will, Trust or other testamentary document.

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash