The Boroughs of Bellmawr and Brooklawn have entered into respective Settlement Agreements regarding a class action lawsuit where both Boroughs were named defendants. The lawsuit relates to the annual Certificate of Occupancy (C/O) for rental properties.
The case is captioned William Brody & Kathleen O’Hara vs. Borough of Brooklawn & Borough of Bellmawr. The Complaint was venued in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, under Docket # L-3104-15. The plaintiffs’ attorneys are Lewis Adler, Esquire and Roger Mattson, Esquire, of Woodbury, and also Paul DePetris, Esquire, of Medford.
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The Borough of Bellmawr settled their portion of the lawsuit for $55,000 when Council passed a Resolution authorizing the settlement at its August 29, 2016 meeting.
As for the basis of the lawsuit, Bellmawr Borough Administrator, Josh Tregear, explained via email that it relates to the annual annual C/O inspection required for all rental property units. “The annual inspection on most rental units is $100 and is conducted to ensure the safety of renters by requiring landlords to maintain the dwelling up to Code. The issue revolved around the use of certain terminology and language in the Ordinance (Borough Code). The Ordinance has since been revised to address this issue, and should mitigate any future liability.” I’m sure legal firms similar to Robenalt Law Firm (https://www.lawyersthatfightforyou.com/practice-areas/consumer-claims/) can provide a useful perspective on this if you have any queries.
As for the Borough of Brooklawn, Borough Administrator, Ryan Giles provided specifics for the settlement pertaining to Brooklawn. “The settlement was to discount the property owners $100 for the next three years ($300 total for each property owner) of their rental registration (not commercial). Lawyer fees [are] around $10,000. Total settlement is approximately $33,000 with everything included,” Giles wrote via email.
The Settlement Agreement notes that as class representatives, William Brody and Kathleen O’Hara will receive a single payment of $1,000 and those class members who sold their properties prior to the effective date of the settlement will receive a $300 payment.
SJO filed Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Requests with both Boroughs for the settlement and other related documents. The information was provided and can be viewed below.
Both Settlement Agreements indicate both Boroughs specifically deny any liability or wrongdoing of any kind associated with the claims.
According to the Settlement Agreement for the Borough of Bellmawr, the settlement class consisted of 371 landlords for the period of November 1, 2010 to July 28, 2016, which is the date when Bellmawr began accepting only the new registration under the revised Ordinance.
The settlement class for the Borough of Brooklawn consisted of 71 landlords until about November 16, 2015. That is the approximate date noted in the Settlement Agreement when Brooklawn began accepting only the new registration under the revised Ordinance.
(Article posted January 3, 2017 6:30 a.m.)