Appellate Advocacy

Keen insight to shape the law

At the appellate stage of a complex litigation matter, a special set of skills and knowledge is needed to successfully obtain appellate relief.

Reach & Depth

Far more than lower court decisions on individual cases, published appellate decisions establish precedents for the cases that follow. Accordingly, appellate practice presents the skilled advocate with a unique opportunity to shape the law.

FMG lawyers have gained keen insight into how trial courts render their decisions and how those decisions are analyzed by appellate courts by serving as clerks and staff attorneys for trial courts and appellate judges, on both the state and federal bench. We also are frequently retained to file amici curiae or “friends-of-the-court” briefs in appeals involving important issues for our clients. Given the breadth of our experience, FMG lawyers have succeeded in obtaining numerous far-reaching decisions for our clients, including landmark decisions from the Supreme Court of the United States.

Successes

Paul Piantino and Christopher Donnelly obtained a reversal and remand resulting from their Appeal of a Final Judgment entered by a Bergen County Trial Court. The case arose out of an underlying action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The Underlying Plaintiff alleged that the Client violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act due to calls that were allegedly made to Plaintiff, who was on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Initially, the Underlying Plaintiff and the Client communicated with each other to explore settlement. However, when early settlement failed, the Underlying Plaintiff attempted to serve the Client at a different, defunct address, and all future communications and documents from the West Virginia District Court and the Underlying Plaintiff were sent to that old address. As a result, the Underlying Plaintiff was able to obtain an Order for Summary Judgment and eventually a judgment against the, at the time, pro se Client in the West Virginia District Court.

The Underlying Plaintiff then assigned the judgment to a Judgment Creditor, who recorded the foreign judgment in New Jersey where Client resided. Upon notice of this foreign judgment, the Client retained the services of FMG and we filed a motion in New Jersey state court to vacate the foreign judgment arguing that the judgment was not entitled to full faith and credit in New Jersey due to numerous procedural due process issues. The Trial Court denied the motion to vacate. A motion for reconsideration was also filed but denied shortly thereafter.

On Appeal, Mr. Piantino and Mr. Donnelly argued that the Trial Court erred in its denial of the Client’s motions as service of process in the West Virginia District Court action was insufficient and that their, at the time, pro se Client was denied adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard. Specifically, we argued that the Client was denied an opportunity to be heard because the Underlying Plaintiff and the West Virginia District Court sent all litigation communications to the Client’s defunct address. Furthermore, The West Virginia District Court issued a Roseboro Notice to the Client which was returned as undeliverable. Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), is a Fourth Circuit Opinion which requires that, before entering summary judgment against a pro se party, the Court must provide the party with fair notice of the requirements of the summary judgment rule. This was evidence that the Client was not informed that they were facing summary judgment, as is the requirement in the West Virginia jurisdiction for all pro se litigants. Thus, the Client was denied adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, and the judgment was not entitled to full faith and credit in New Jersey. The Appellate Division in New Jersey vacated the Trial Court’s t decision and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the Trial Court failed to sufficiently address our Client’s due process arguments.

Upon receiving the Appellate Division opinion, the Judgment Creditor filed a Warrant to Satisfy Judgment, thereby relieving the Client of all liability under the judgment in both New Jersey and West Virginia.

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