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.”
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.