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Pictured is Vito F. Cardinale, president of Cardinale Enterprises. Photo credit Tanya Breen/ Asbury Park Press.

As the news was very first broken here on FAA News, a recently filed explosive whistleblower lawsuit reveals allegations of massive collusion between Jackson Mayor Mike Reina and certain big developers in the Township.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Reina coerced the Township's building inspectors to massively "look away" for his important friend - specifically, Vito Cardinale of Cardinale Enterprises - and even threatened to terminate their employment if they didn't do the dirty work they demanded!

The Complaint was filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Ocean County by Kevin Schmalz who served as the Plumbing Inspector and Sub-Code Official until October 2022.

As recently reported here on FAA News, the Township failed to timely answer the complaint. As a result, Judge Robert E Brenner has placed an entry of default against the Township.

Turns out, the reason that the Township failed to timely answer the complaint is because they forwarded the lawsuit to their insurance company assuming they would handle it. However, the insurance carrier is refusing coverage for the litigation!

As soon as the Township was served the complaint, they forwarded it to the Township’s insurance carriers, Qual-lynx and Summit Risk for a coverage determination. Both have now advised that they are denying coverage and the Township would have to retain its own counsel. They have not yet sent the Township a formal letter explaining the basis for their denials.

The Township only learned of this denial after Judge Brenner already entered the entry of default against the Township.

As such, Township Attorney Patrick F. Vargas has just now filed a motion to vacate the entry of default, so the Township can properly represent and defend itself.

Ms. Vargas wrote:

Rule 4:43-3 provides that a default will be vacated upon the showing of good cause. The good cause standard is a low threshold and any request to vacate a default should be viewed liberally. This requires the moving party to demonstrate excusable neglect for failing to timely answer the complaint and meritorious defense. See Bernhardt v. Alden Café.

Here, it is respectfully submitted that excusable neglect has been demonstrated. 

The Defendant timely provided its carrier with the complaint and assumed coverage would be handled through the same. It was not until after default was entered that the Township was advised that coverage was denied and it would have to retain its own counsel and incur its own costs for the defense. The Township through the undersigned thereafter immediately contacted Plaintiff’s counsel to request the default be vacated by way of a consent order to avoid this motion. All of which was done on the same date default was entered. 

There will furthermore be no prejudice to the Plaintiff should the default be vacated as default was entered less than 3 weeks ago.

The motion is returnable before Judge Brenner next Friday, January 5, 2024.

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