On the Pulse…Profile of Our Cherry Hill, New Jersey Office

By Richard L. Goldstein, Esq.*

Marshall Dennehey’s southern New Jersey office in Cherry Hill is the firm’s first office that was opened outside the state of Pennsylvania and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. From very small beginnings in 1984, the Cherry Hill office has grown exponentially to 54 attorneys, 15 paralegals and an outstanding group of support staff led by our office manager Sheila Stanley, assistant office manager Vicki Gureghian and an extremely capable group of secretaries, filing clerks and billing personnel. Serving as the firm’s largest regional office, Cherry Hill’s development has paved the way for Marshall Dennehey’s transition from a Pennsylvania-based law firm to a law firm with a presence up and down the east coast.

Just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, South Jersey has been described as somewhat nondescript, lacking its own sense of identity. But the area sports some of the best places to live (Moorestown–Money Magazine, Medford–National Geographic and Princeton–Smithsonian.com) as well as some of the most dangerous (Camden–number two in the U.S. in 2013 based on FBI statistics for violent crimes in cities of 25,000 or more). The area includes Atlantic City, the original seaside resort on the east coast and now a gaming resort, and the state’s capitol of Trenton. Nevertheless, the ties with neighboring Philadelphia are self evident.

New Jersey’s population has grown more racially diverse and continues to shift to the southern counties according to U.S. Census Data. The legalization of gambling; the move from rural, agricultural to commercial development; a reduction in manufacturing jobs to increases in service-related positions; an increase in transportation infrastructure; less expensive land and greater accessibility to markets have all combined to encourage significant growth in the southern half of the state.

The Cherry Hill office of Marshall Dennehey has echoed this geographic development. It has expanded each of the firm’s four practice departments in like fashion, with the assistance of some of the firm’s finest and most respected litigators.

In our Professional Liability Department—one of the largest in the firm—attorneys like Jack Slimm provide the department with unparalleled expertise and skill. Jack has spent more than 40 years practicing law and regularly handles complex litigation with an emphasis on the defense of professionals, including attorneys, accountants, directors and officers, and investment and insurance professionals. Young shareholders Art Wheeler and Dante Rohr provide exceptional support for a department that is undoubtedly one of the best in the state.

John Osorio not only oversees Cherry Hill’s Architectural, Engineering and Construction Defect Litigation Practice Group, but he also serves as the chair of this practice group for the entire firm. He and his Cherry Hill unit, which include shareholders Tracey Burnley and Ray Michaud, defend architectural and engineering firms, general contractors, subcontractors, developers and owners. Tracy also represents real estate agents, title companies, brokers and licensed inspection professionals in a variety of property damage claims.

Lila Wynne is a co-chair of the firm’s Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation Practice Group and oversees this group’s work throughout the state. She has served as counsel in litigation involving more than 25 CERCLA Superfund sites and over 100 New Jersey enforcement sites. She has also been retained as counsel to Fortune 500 companies, defending cases of natural resource damage, leaking underground storage tanks and groundwater contamination from chemicals, pesticides, gasoline and home heating oil.

Our Public Entity and Civil Rights Litigation Practice Group, which I oversee, represents police officers, police departments, municipal and county officials and governments, political subdivisions, school boards, institutions of higher learning, and the state of New Jersey and its various departments. Along with my partner Matt Behr, we handle the defense of constitutional claims, such as First Amendment matters involving free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and petition clause issues; Fourth Amendment claims for unreasonable search and seizure; Fifth Amendment zoning matters relating to condemnation; Eighth Amendment claims relating to cruel and unusual punishment; and cases of violations of procedural and substantive due process and equal protection. We also defend public employees and entities in cases involving discrimination, retaliation and whistleblowing. We represent public entities and employers in employment, special education, bullying, harassment and intimidation cases, along with a variety of tort-based matters implicating our New Jersey Tort Claims Act.

Larry Berg provides consulting and litigation services to employers in all areas of employment law. Those areas include cases under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (our whistleblowing statute), breach of contract, FLSA and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Act, among others.

Eric Brown heads our office’s Insurance Coverage/Bad Faith Litigation Practice Group. His practice is devoted exclusively to representation of the insurance industry, addressing coverage needs and defending companies in extra-contractual and bad faith matters.

Walt Kawalec oversees our office’s appellate practice. He focuses on post-trial and appellate advocacy in all areas with special emphasis on public entity liability, civil rights, insurance coverage/bad faith and professional liability. He has appeared regularly before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and our New Jersey Supreme Court.

Dana Argeris, who has been practicing law for well over 30 years, focuses his practice on insurance coverage disputes, construction litigation, premises liability and products liability law. He has significant experience in issues regarding contractual indemnification and additional insured coverage in construction, landlord and tenant, and other related areas.

In the Casualty Department, Barbara Davis serves as supervisory attorney. She is a prominent litigator in her own right, handling significant cases in the areas of motor vehicle negligence, product liability, negligent security and liquor liability.

The Casualty Department also includes Walt Klekotka, a long-time member of the office, who handles premises liability, dram shop and automobile negligence claims. It boasts fellow senior member Pete Lentini, who has particular skill in product liability matters and also handles premises liability litigation.

Lary Zucker is chair of the firm’s Amusements, Sports and Recreation Liability Practice Group, which defends theme parks, water parks, roller skating rinks, golf courses, ski resorts, bowling centers, concert venues, sports stadiums and arenas. Lary has been practicing for more than 40 years. He is legal counsel to the New Jersey Amusement Association and was instrumental in drafting the state’s Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Act. He is a founding member and director of the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association, a network of attorneys and claims professionals who focus their practices on the amusement industry. Alicia Smith is an experienced trial attorney who works alongside Lary and is an active participant in a number of amusement industry organizations.

Jeff Rapattoni runs the office’s Fraud/Special Investigation Practice Group. Although Jeff came to the firm in 2008, he has built the department from a small operation into a powerhouse, not only in New Jersey, but throughout the firm. With unparalleled success, he and his group of nine attorneys litigate fraud-related claims and conduct investigations in a variety of areas, including underwriter fraud, policy voidance and staged accidents. The department has grown to become one of the strongest in New Jersey. Kevin McGoldrick, who works along with Jeff, also litigates Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist and Personal Injury Protection claims. Jim Johnson also provides invaluable assistance as a senior member of the department.

Diane Magram oversees the firm’s Automobile Liability Practice Group, concentrating on automobile negligence, personal injury defense and consumer protection. As evidence of her superior trial skills and successes, Diane was recently elected president of the Southern New Jersey Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a national organization of distinguished trial lawyers and judges.

Kevin McKeon has 25 years experience representing manufacturers, corporations and businesses in product liability, product warranty and premises liability cases. He has defended major automobile manufacturers, as well as manufacturers of boats, homes, recreational vehicles and equipment. Doug Suplee works closely with Kevin and has personally handled almost 500 warranty litigation matters. Doug’s practice also includes amusement, sports and entertainment law.

Cherry Hill’s Health Care Liability Practice Group is in the capable hands of Lynne Nahmani. Lynne has been a trial attorney for more than 20 years and has litigated hundreds of cases in which she has provided legal counsel to physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, dentists, nursing homes and medical practices. This five-attorney group includes Sharon Campbell-Suplee, who concentrates her practice in representing long-term care and sub-acute residential facilities.

Finally, Bob Fitzgerald oversees the office’s Workers’ Compensation Practice Group. He has represented employers in virtually every industry, including retail services, hospitals and health care, banking, construction, manufacturing and distribution. The five-person group includes shareholder Kristy Olivo Salvitti and special counsel Nancy Musser.

Because of the size of the Cherry Hill office, it is not possible to reference the many associates who provide invaluable assistance and support on a daily basis. But their contributions certainly do not go unrecognized.

Overall, our attorneys and staff in Cherry Hill are always cognizant of the importance of being immediately responsive to client inquiries and concerns. Conforming to client guidelines is seen as essential to maintaining a cohesive partnership with those who utilize our services. We understand that our value is in recognizing early on which cases ought to be amicably resolved and which should be disposed of through motion practice or trial. Most important, our attorneys communicate such information to our clients promptly and with clear explanations and support for our recommendations. We are committed to utilizing ADR vehicles to resolve cases quickly and efficiently when warranted. However, when cases must be tried, we have the experience, dedication and attention to detail that results in great success.

Most of our attorneys are long-term residents of this region and are highly regarded in their local communities, the legal community and, most importantly, the judiciary. We are frequent lecturers and presenters to our clients on a variety of legal topics, including those cutting-edge issues that instantly impact legal and coverage positions.

We welcome the opportunity to serve you with respect to your litigation needs.

*Rich is the managing shareholder of our Cherry Hill, New Jersey office. He can be reached at 856.414.6013 or rlgoldstein@mdwcg.com.


Defense Digest, Vol. 20, No. 2, June 2014

Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2014 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.