GUILTY – Union County Improvement Authority of breach of contract

By County Watchers | December 29, 2012

On December 11, 2012 a Jury returned a guilty verdict against the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA),  which was found to have breached their contract with Verge Properties Urban Renewal LLC. Verge was awarded a re-imbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses in the amount of $236,016.42. Decotis Law Firm, hired by the UCIA to oversee the project got paid to defend itself… and lost. At this writing these costs and others incurred by the UCIA in this matter stemming from the failed Linden South Wood Avenue Redevelopment Project are still being calculated by the Union County Watchdog Association.

The UCIA Executive Director is Charlotte DeFilippo, who is also the Chairman of the Union County Regular Democratic Committee.

A copy of the complaint can be read here.

Following is a summary of the S. Wood Ave Redevelopment Project:

Linden selects Verge LLC as the redeveloper- late 2001

Linden contracts with UCIA to handle ALL the details of the redevelopment (interlocal services agreement )

Verge’s redevelopment contract is with Linden and UCIA, where Linden has contracted with UCIA via an interlocal services agreement to handle ALL the details- August 2003

Under this contract UCIA was to acquire, demolish, environmentally clean the properties to Phase 1 by no later than May 2004

UCIA hires Decotis Law Firm to handle ALL the details of the redevelopment contract- from acquisition up to sale/transfer to Verge, everything in-between

Decotis (on behalf of the UCIA) hires appraisors, environmental professionals, demolition contractors and Gluck, Walrath (condemnation/eminent domain lawers)

UCIA pays these professionals directly

UCIA does not deliver properties as per contract at May 2004

Verge notifies UCIA of default in Spring of 2007- Only then does demolition begin.

Verge sues UCIA and Linden- July 2007

UCIA is represented by Decotis Law Firm

Linden is represented by a different law firm (Not Linden employed attorney) gets out of lawsuit because their contract with UCIA says UCIA is completely responsible

Goes to Jury trial in December 2012 for breach of contract and Verge’s allowable out-of-pocket expenses (engineering, architects, etc.)

In a jury trial, UCIA is found to have breached the contract on various grounds and Verge is awarded a re-imbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses – $236,016.42

Essentially, Decotis unsuccessfully defended the lawsuit and they got paid to do the initial work and then paid to defend that work.

The law firm that handled the redevelopment work= Decotis;
The law firm that handled defense= Decotis;
Essentially Decotis Law Firm got paid to defend itself… and lost

 The taxpayers are stuck with the bills.

 Verge Properties Urban Renal LLC vs. Union County Improvement Authority Second Amended Complaint

Jury Verdict Sheet

4 Responses to “GUILTY – Union County Improvement Authority of breach of contract”

  1. nfs says:

    The award of $236,016.42 is nothing compared to the DeCotiis fees. Can JB look at his spreadsheet. I think DeCotiis is over a half a million on this case to defend itself at taxpayer expense. In a real world, Charlotte and DeCotiis would be fired.

  2. John Bury says:

    More than $750,000 only from that line item and only through 10/3/12 and not including over $250,000 categorized under So. Wood Avenue:
    http://www.countywatchers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/ucia-decotiis-verge.xlsx

    Of that money at least $30,000 a year comes back to the Union County Democratic Committee as DeCotiis partners get together to make their annual donations so Charlotte’s only doing her real job.

  3. Jeff Arnold says:

    Once again the taxpayer takes it in the shorts. Where is the AG?

  4. G. Albritton says:

    Just wait until the UCIA with all of its “flexibility”, and incompetence, takes over the County Golf Courses — DeCotiis will no doubt create plenty of great fee billing opportunities for itself there.