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Loigman v. Township Committee of the Township of Middletown

June 29, 2007

LARRY S. LOIGMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF MIDDLETOWN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND MELVIN GREENBERG, DEFENDANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. MON-L-4586-95.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued April 25, 2007

Before Judges Parker and Yannotti.

In this action in lieu of prerogative writs, plaintiff Larry S. Loigman appeals from an order entered on April 6, 2006 dismissing his motion to enforce litigant's rights and award sanctions on the ground that the motion was not properly before the Superior Court pursuant to R. 1:10-3. This case was before us previously and resulted in a reported decision. Loigman v. Twp. Comm., 308 N.J. Super. 500 (App. Div. 1998).*fn1

Plaintiff filed this complaint in lieu of prerogative writs in August 1995, alleging that the municipality improperly expended public funds for unauthorized "duck crossing" traffic signs. Plaintiff further alleged that the township committee convened in executive session on August 28, 1995 in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Final judgment was entered on August 30, 1996, dismissing the claims relating to the "duck crossing" traffic signs with an agreement that unauthorized signs would be removed, but found with respect to the OPMA that:

The Township has demonstrated good faith efforts at compliance [with OPMA], but two defects are noted:

a. Use of the generic term[s] "personnel, litigation and negotiation" does not conform to the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act.

b. Some inappropriate items have been discussed in "executive" or closed session.

The Township must comply with the guidelines set forth in Council of New Jersey State College Locals v. Trenton State College, 284 N.J. Super. 108 (Law Div. 1995)[,] as to notice, resolution to enter closed session and matters that may be discussed in closed session, N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b). No other remedies are required at this time.

On January 30, 1997, plaintiff moved to enforce the August 1996 judgment, alleging that on January 21, 1997, defendant went into a closed session to discuss "[thirteen] personnel items" without identifying which personnel were involved; to discuss "contract negotiations" with [three] collective bargaining units without identifying which units were involved; and to discuss "[six] items of litigation" without identifying which litigation was involved. Plaintiff also alleged the invalidity of a notice of a special meeting for January 15, 1997 to hold an executive session with the Acting Chief of Police to discuss a police study done by DeLoitte & Touche, for failing to refer to any of the exceptions of N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b) and that discussion of a "police study" was not proper for a closed session. [Id. at 502.]

The trial court dismissed the motion and directed plaintiff to file a new complaint. Ibid. Plaintiff appealed and we remanded, holding that

Plaintiff utilized the proper procedure, and he cannot be required to file separate complaints for each violation of the judgment. R. 1:10-3 is still an appropriate vehicle for a party who, armed with a judgment directing that a defendant comply with a statute, alleges a violation of that judgment. [Id. at 503-04.]

After the remand, the parties "reached an agreement that certain procedural guidelines should be implemented on a term basis to verify, as anticipated, compliance with the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act." An order was entered on March 25, 1999 memorializing that agreement. The order set forth procedures for executive or private sessions; directed that the closed sessions be tape recorded as of April 1, 1999; and held that the tapes reviewed by the court in camera demonstrated that no violation of OPMA had occurred. The ...


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