Cole Schotz P.C. secured a complete victory for Procida Funding, along with its managing member William Procida and former executive John Mullane, in a suit in which a former employee sought more than $2 million, claiming he had an equity interest in the New Jersey-based real estate investment company.

William Procida, a client of Cole Schotz for 25 years and who has had hundreds of employees over the course of his 37-year career, had found himself sued for the first time by a former employee who was also a family friend. In addition to claiming an equity interest in the company, the plaintiff alleged he had been defamed and wrongfully terminated.

Following a three-day bench trial, on April 15 Bergen County Superior Court Judge Robert C. Wilson ordered a dismissal, with prejudice, of all claims asserted against Procida Funding. The plaintiff had claimed to own a 12.5% to 13.04% of the company.

Cole Schotz convinced the court that the plaintiff was never anything more than an employee of Procida Funding and that no such equity position was created for, or granted to, the plaintiff. During cross examination, the Cole Schotz legal team managed to have the plaintiff admit he was never referred to as a member of the company. The team also successfully argued that no comment made by Mr. Procida about or relating to the plaintiff constituted defamation.

“We are gratified the court agreed with our position the plaintiff had no equity interest in Procida funding, left the job on his own accord and ‘utterly failed’ to support his claim of defamation,” said Cole Schotz member Leo Leyva, who led Procida Funding’s legal team. “We are thankful our client can now move on from this baseless suit.”

In addition to Mr. Leyva, the Cole Schotz team consisted of members Randi KochmanJason Melzer and Susan Usatine, and associates Elizabeth Carbone and Krista Kulp.

The plaintiff was represented by a four-member team from Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.

The case was heard in New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County Law Division.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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