One of the region’s largest, most experienced groups of commercial trial lawyers, our Litigation Department has achieved success in hundreds of trials in state and federal courts.  Throughout New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Texas, we are recognized as a “bet the company” litigation team.  We frequently arbitrate and mediate as alternatives to litigation.  We also counsel our clients on how to avoid litigation.  First and foremost, our clients see us as problem solvers.


Litigation Representative Matters

  • Successfully obtained a reversal in the Appellate Division and then decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court, in favor our client in an eminent domain matter where our clients’ property was taken from them, as the Court determined, without constitutional just compensation, based on the valuation date used by the trial court and advocated by the municipality taking the property.

  • Recovered a substantial judgment on behalf of a surety client against the State of New Jersey after a 10-day bench trial and a 175-page written decision.  The Court found that the State had improperly terminated our client from the renovation of a state building after our client had funded substantial work, refusing to pay our client for such work, and rejecting the State’s counterclaims based on the work performed by the State’s substitute completion contractor.

  • Represented a national retailer of fine jewelry, in a breach of contract action relating to the production of a line of jewelry allegedly licensed by a celebrity.  We defeated a motion by the manufacturer seeking to prevent our client from selling that jewelry, and the matter settled shortly thereafter favorably to our client.

  • Obtained a judgment for a client declaring the non-infringement and invalidity of a real estate tax patent owned by another company, which determination we were able to successfully defend on appeal before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Represented a New Jersey state authority against a multi-million dollar claim that it had negligently failed to require that a payment bond be posted under the New Jersey Bond Act for a particular major development project.  We obtained dismissal of the claim by written decision based on numerous grounds, including a lack of jurisdiction by the trial court, the inapplicability of the Bond Act and immunity under the Tort Claims Act.

  • On behalf of an employer client, we obtained a temporary restraining order preventing its former employee from (1) violating his non-compete agreement by working for one of the client’s competitors; (2) disclosing any of our client’s confidential and proprietary information to any other person or entity; (3) soliciting or communicating with any of our client’s competitor’s clients; and (4) ordering that the former employee immediately return all confidential and proprietary information to our client.  This decision led to the negotiation of a settlement on very favorable terms.

  • Successfully represented an individual removed as a Director of a non-profit corporation for alleged misconduct.  Following an eight-day bench trial, our client prevailed and obtained all of the relief requested in the Complaint, which led to our client’s reinstatement as a member of the Board of Directors and as a Trustee, and the by-laws and member list advanced by our client were declared to govern.

  • Concluding nine years of litigation, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the prior decisions we obtained in the Appellate Division, trial court and in arbitration in favor of our client, the majority owner of an automobile dealership chain, against the minority owner who was ousted.

  • At trial, we succeeded in establishing equal ownership for our client in a group of large, closely held businesses and obtained a judgment directing the forced sale of the opposing shareholder's interests.  Then, on appeal, we obtained favorable valuation rulings, as the Appellate Division recognized a key man marketability discount in the first reported New Jersey case applying such a discount.

A New Jersey Tax Court judge ruled that the State of New Jersey is obligated to act with integrity and comply with its deliberate representations that lottery winnings were not subject to income tax, therefore barring them from taxing annuity payments of our client’s $46 million lottery winnings.

On June 9, 2000, our client, Melvin Milligan won the top prize in the Big Game Drawing totaling approximately $46 million. When Mr. Milligan won and claimed his New Jersey Lottery prize, winnings from the New Jersey Lottery were specifically excluded by statute from taxable income under the New Jersey Gross Income Tax Act, N.J.S.A. § 54A:l-l, et seq. After consulting with counsel, and in reliance on the State tax laws in existence at that time, Mr. Milligan opted to receive his prize in 26 annual installments of approximately $1,769,000 each.

Mr. Milligan received the agreed-upon installments without issue until 2009, when the State of New Jersey amended the law to subject New Jersey Lottery winnings over $10,000 to the New Jersey Gross Income Tax. This amendment was enacted on June 29, 2009, but made effective retroactively as of January 1, 2009. As a result, beginning tax period 2009, and every year thereafter, Mr. Milligan and his wife, Kimberly-Lawton Milligan, began reporting the New Jersey Lottery winnings as income and paying the applicable tax in excess of $133,000 each year. The Milligans disputed New Jersey’s right to collect income tax on their prize money – a prize won over nine years before the change in the law – and filed a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey, Division of Taxation and State of New Jersey, Division of Lottery. The Milligans alleged breach of contract, violations of both the United States Constitution and New Jersey State Constitution, violations of the common-law “manifest injustice” and “square corners” doctrines, and sought reversal of their denied refund claims.

On September 26, 2016, the Honorable Judge DeAlmeida granted the Milligans partial summary judgment based on the square corners doctrine which states, in essence, that in dealing with the public the government must act with integrity and “turn square corners”. Reversing the final determinations of the Division of Taxation, the Court concluded that the State is prohibited from imposing gross income tax on the Milligan’s winnings from a 2000 New Jersey lottery prize received in installments in 2009 and later years. The Court further explained that although the 2009 amendment allows for gross income taxes on lottery prizes, the retroactive extension of state income tax to our client’s winnings is barred by such doctrine because it is indisputable that in 2000 state lottery officials actively and intentionally represented to the public that winnings were not subject to New Jersey gross income tax. These representations “became part of the contractual agreement” between the State and Milligan, who elected to receive his winnings in installments over a 26 year period with the understanding that the payments would not be subject to income tax.

In addition to the Milligans, this firm represents over two dozen other plaintiffs who are similarly challenging the State’s retroactive taxation on their lottery winnings. The Court’s ruling in Milligan applies across the board to our other clients.

In May 2006, a national bank instituted an action against an individual and his entities seeking to restrain transfers of actions relating to more than 300 real properties in New Jersey.  The commencement of this action forced numerous lenders, property owners, investors and creditors claiming an interest in the properties and business entities to intervene and/or file related proceedings, resulting in the largest Chancery Court case in New Jersey of that year.  Over 30 related actions were filed shortly after the commencement of this action.  The Court appointed a fiscal agent/trustee in liquidation to oversee the management, operation and liquidation of the properties, valued at approximately $400 million.

Cole Schotz counseled its client through a myriad of intricate issues, protecting his ownership interest in the properties and prosecuting and defending numerous claims against the principal defendant and certain creditors.  The proceedings presented complex litigation, real estate, corporate and potential insolvency issues.  A team of Cole Schotz attorneys across different departments analyzed the various claims and issues of the parties and formulated a strategy to protect and stabilize the assets and the client's position.  This complicated and fast-paced litigation resulted in the entry of over 250 court orders in 2006.

The proceedings afforded the multidisciplinary group of Cole Schotz attorneys opportunities to negotiate the sale of several substantial commercial properties to potential buyers, assist the fiscal agent in establishing the process and procedure for marketing and liquidating the properties in a manner that maximizes value to the estate, assist in establishing the procedure for pursuing and adjudicating creditor claims, and demonstrate its sophisticated litigation expertise.

The largest New Jersey Chancery Court cases provided the firm with the forum in which to demonstrate its capabilities across different commercial practice areas.

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