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Haas v. Burlington County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 30, 2019

TAMMY MARIE HAAS and CONRAD SZCZPANIAK, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
BURLINGTON COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          CARL D. POPLAR CARL D. POPLAR, P.A. WILLIAM A. RIBACK WILLIAM RIBACK, LLC DAVID J. NOVACK BUDD LARNER, PC Attorneys for Plaintiffs Tammy Marie Haas and Conrad Szczpaniak, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals.

          EVAN H.C. CROOK CAPEHART & SCATCHARD, P.A. Attorneys for Defendants Burlington County, Burlington County Correctional Facility, and Ronald Cox.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         There are three remaining motions before the Court in this long-standing action. The first two motions relate to the status of Attorney Susan Lask's pro hac vice admission.[1] The Poplar Group[2] has moved to vacate Attorney Lask's pro hac vice admission (ECF No. 438) while the Novack Group has cross-moved to voluntarily withdraw Attorney Lask's admission (ECF No. 444). The Court also has before it the Poplar Group's motion to reconsider[3] the Court's September 24, 2019 Opinion and Order adopting and accepting Magistrate Judge Schneider's Report and Recommendation regarding the allocation of attorneys' fees between class counsel. (ECF No. 449).

         For the reasons expressed below, the Poplar Group's motion to vacate Attorney Lask's pro hac vice admission (ECF No. 438) will be denied, the Novack Group's cross-motion to withdraw Attorney Lask's pro hac vice admission (ECF No. 444) will be granted, and the Poplar Group's motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 449) will be denied.

         I. Relevant Background

         On January 31, 2019, this Court granted final settlement approval in this enduring class action. (ECF No. 383). As part of the settlement, the Court approved a counsel fee and litigation cost award of $925, 000. See (ECF No. 328 at 7). Class Counsel, however, could not agree on how to share the award among themselves. As such, the Court attempted to facilitate an amicable resolution of the matter, albeit unsuccessfully. After counsel could not amicably resolve the issue, on September 3, 2019, Magistrate Judge Schneider issued a Report and Recommendation (the “R&R”) recommending an allocation of the fee. (ECF No. 441). On September 17, 2019, the Poplar Group filed objections to the R&R, and the Court undertook a de novo review of it.

         While the Poplar Group's objections to the R&R remained pending before this Court, the Poplar Group moved to vacate Attorney Lask's pro hac vice admission, citing what this Court previously described as “troubling findings of Judge Loretta A. Preska of the Southern District of New York regarding Ms. Lask and litigation ongoing in that district[.]” (ECF No. 438); Haas v. Burlington Cty., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162700, *13-14 (D.N.J. Sept. 24, 2019) (Hillman, J.). In response, the Novack Group cross-moved to withdraw Attorney Lask's pro hac vice admission. (ECF No. 444).

         On September 24, 2019, this Court issued an Opinion and Order adopting and affirming the R&R in its entirety. (ECF Nos. 447 (Opinion) & 448 (Order)). On October 3, 2019, the Poplar Group moved for reconsideration of the September 24, 2019 Opinion and Order (the “Motion for Reconsideration”). (ECF No. 449). The Novack Group filed opposition on October 18, 2019. (ECF No. 450).

         The pending motions (ECF Nos. 438, 444, & 449) - the last three remaining in this case - are fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         II. Discussion

         a. Standard Governing Motion For Reconsideration

         Local Rule 7.1(i) allows a party to file a motion with the Court requesting the Court reconsider the “matter or controlling decisions which the party believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked[.]” Under Local Rule 7.1(i), the moving party must demonstrate “the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Andreyko v. Sunrise Sr. Living, Inc., 993 F.Supp.2d 475, 478 (D.N.J. 2014) (citations omitted). In doing so, the moving party must show the “dispositive factual matter or controlling decisions of law” it believes the court overlooked in its initial decision. Mitchell v. Twp. Of Willingboro, 913 F.Supp.2d 62, 78 (D.N.J. 2012) (citations omitted). A mere disagreement with the Court will not suffice to show that the Court overlooked relevant facts or controlling law. United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999).

         b. The Poplar Group's Motion ...


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