The following feature is a special presentation by your friendly neighborhood Horsey and may contain legal references, analysis and opinion obtained in first hand experience in a NJ court of law.
In an unofficial NJ frivolous litigation milestone, the Bajardi v. Pincus court designated SLAPP-suit, (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) is five years old today.
Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal wanted $2,000,000 from about a dozen Hoboken commenters or as some say bloggers.
On this day in 2012, political operatives filed what they hoped would silence all opposition online in Hoboken against a former councilwoman, the notorious Beth Mason and her Old Guard allies, the Russo Clan, first and foremost.
Most of the commenters had never made mention of either plaintiffs but were politically targeted for extinction. Some of those screen name commenters/victims: ss1959, davidd, plywood, Redrider765, JAM, Bludiamonds, Smarty Jones, Bob R, Hobbs, Klaussenfluffer and Bet Mazin. The civil lawsuit claimed it would seek to add more screen names, re: victims.
Under oath, this farm animal confessed to what everyone knew, Smarty Jones was a moniker used and the character Bet Mazin (see below) was Horsey's cartoon masterpiece. Apparently there was more than one Klaussenfluffer running around, sorry Perry. Nothing published on MSV was ever alleged defamatory in the lawsuit. Didn't stop the efforts to shut it down.
For a select few, this was a cause for celebration and for many others serious concern. The active commenting on Hoboken Patch literally dried up as many regular commenters there found themselves targeted at $2,000,000 per person. Others decided public online commenting was simply not worth it and opted out. The First Amendment in Hoboken had been chilled.
For years, the Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi lawsuit was a barrel of laughs. Frivolous motion after motion, dozens and dozens piled up averaging two per month for more than two straight years by two out-of-state law firms led finally to a two week trial in Hudson Superior Court.
Most of the frivolous claims and defendants were tossed out of court prior to trial. The judge hearing the pre-trial motions after evaluation said the case had been eviscerated. Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi in their unique obtuseness would agree by lowering their demands of $2,000,000 per defendant to $1,850,000 in total.
The case never made it to a jury and was thrown out of court mid-trial lacking ANY evidence. (Did you finally get that Caren or are you still hiding under your desk from the phone call of a horse?) Later a sanctions hearing would be heard in Hudson Superior Court with lawyers representing the Bajardi lawyers, each trying to avoid sanctions for their respective roles in a frivolous litigation. None did.
Each of three law firms would be sanctioned but the biggest prize for frivolous litigation went to Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi. They were slammed with sanctions of over $276,000.
The sanctioned parties have appealed. Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi have incurred legal fees since the issuance of sanctions in May of 2015 on par or more than the original $276,000 in penalties. That's the last defendants know of the outstanding bill, it could in fact be well higher. The Bajardis continue to plea poverty to pay defendants for their frivolous litigation while legal fees skyrocket all around well into seven figures.
This Horse will be back in Superior Court next week seeking truth, justice and the American way. In five years, you learn a lot about who friends are, the First Amendment and most importantly of all patience and faith in God. Thanks to everyone, especially Alex Booth and Counsel for the Joint Defense. Most especially, thanks to the Lord our Creator for preservation and enlightenment along the way. A horse actually learned a few big words in five years.
But now a few words of wisdom from the MSV classic, "Downfall of a wannabe shark." The original was written and created in July 2010. Efforts to keep it off both YouTube and the internet would fail as it's been viewed more than 25,000 times.
The sequel isn't completed but it's coming. Bet.
Downfall of a wannabe shark from Da Horsey on Vimeo.