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Back in March 2021, through a story first reported by the NJ Globe and then immediately picked up by The Lakewood Scoop, the Lakewood community was shocked to learn that an Asbury Park Press (APP) reporter regretfully used a highly inappropriate caption under a photo of a nurse at CHEMED.

The photo was taken a month earlier during Governor Phil Murphy's visit to the COVID vaccination clinic at CHEMED.

Senator Vin Gopal was first to blast the incident. Rep. Christopher Smith, Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Joann Downey, and Senator Robert Singer published statements denouncing the offensive caption. Governor Murphy's press secretary, Alyana Alfaro also tweeted about it. Governor Murphy blasted the story during his COVID press conference the next day.

The incident was also blasted by Scott Richman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for New York and New Jersey.

The reporter was almost immediately fired by the APP.

Over the course of a mere few days, The Lakewood Scoop continued to keep the issue front and center with numerous "breaking news" articles on the story, including quoting the statements from the elected officials, and that, in response to the story, the reporter was fired, and the Township of Lakewood and the Lakewood Board of Education had cancelled their legal advertising contracts with the APP.

One year later in March 2022, the frum nurse filed a defamation lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit filed in Ocean County Superior Court, the nurse was employed as a Pediatric Floor Nurse since December 2018, and she was highly and respected for her response during the COVID pandemic. In February 2021 she was advised that she was being considered for a leadership position in CHEMED. On March 10, 2021 she met with the CHEMED administration to discuss her transition to a leadership position. 11 days later the fateful photo was published to the APP website. Subsequently, on April 8, 2021 the nurse was informed that she "was no longer being considered for the leadership position, in part, due to the APP posting".

The lawsuit names as defendants the reporter, his editor, APP and its parent company, and is suing for defamation and tortious interference with her prospective economic advantage.

The lawsuit does not name CHEMED.

The Lakewood Scoop was the first to report on the filing of the lawsuit, topped off with the caption "Lakewood woman targeted in APP racist photo sues paper".

One very small issue was that, the defendants were never actually served with the complaint. 

In the legal world, that is like stamping an envelope but not dropping it in the mailbox.

On July 29, over 4 months after the lawsuit was filed, Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl put the Plaintiff on notice that the complaint will be withdrawn without prejudice if the complaint is not served by September 27 - 60 days from that day.

This past Friday, September 30th, after the complaint had still not been served, Judge Den Uyl officially withdrew the complaint without prejudice as to all defendants.

Was the act of filing of the lawsuit simply a publicity stint?

This APP reporter previously reported non-favorably about the lack of adherence to pandemic restrictions during a funeral in Lakewood's Beth Medrash Govoha.

Perhaps, just like the filing of the lawsuit was simply a publicity stint, the high importance given to the story by The Lakewood Scoop was itself a publicity stunt, designed as retaliation to the APP reporter's non-favorable reporting of BMG??

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More likely was a response to the APP exposing high salaries at the boe