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.