U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez ruled to dismiss the One Journal Square Partners’ lawsuit in its entirety, the city announced Thursday.
All federal claims against the City of Jersey City contain “no plausibly asserted constitutional violation,” according to the ruling and are hereby dismissed. The claims pertain to a lawsuit filed by Kushner Cos. regarding development of One Journal Square.
Kushner Cos. purchased the One Journal Square site in 2014, when Jared Kushner was still running the company, and later applied for a tax abatement to develop the property. Kushner stepped down from the post after Donald Trump became president.
“The Court saw right through the smoke and mirrors, and we stood firm, refusing to be bullied regardless of a company’s name,” said Mayor Steven Fulop in a prepared statement. “Our decisions are always in our resident’s best interest, and we were not about to back down despite the many, very public attempts to drag my name and the City’s credibility through the mud.”
The rejected federal counts include claims made by the Kushner Cos. LLC that Mayor Fulop and the City of Jersey City “retaliated against Plaintiffs for Jared Kushner’s political affiliation with the Trump Administration.”
The judge also dismissed six additional claims under New Jersey state law for lack of jurisdiction.
“The Complaint was nothing but a veiled attempt to hide the Plaintiffs’ contractual shortcomings by trying to blame it on Mayor Fulop and an alleged political animus,” said Victor Afanador of Newark-based Lite DePalma Greeberg LLC, the outside counsel representing the City of Jersey City. “The Plaintiffs alleged various baseless constitutional violations to bolster what at most amounts to a mere contract dispute that has no business in federal court. This is a major victory for the City and the municipal defendants.”
The ruling potentially saves the city millions of dollars in attorney and other fees.
Kusher Cos General Counsel, Emily Wolf provided NJBIZ with the following statement on Thursday:
“Mayor Steven Fulop’s declaration of “victory” today is laughable but not surprising from this Jersey City politician. The court made no final rulings on the merits of the claims, including whether Fulop and the City retaliated against One Journal Square based on Fulop’s publicly proclaimed political animus towards Kushner Companies. We are confident that we will ultimately demonstrate that Fulop and the City have engaged in an egregious violation of the rights of One Journal Square. We also note the Superior Court of New Jersey has already sanctioned the City for its defiant conduct of not submitting compromising emails by awarding One Journal Square $98,000 of taxpayer money for legal fees and costs and has ordered that it will award additional fees for the continued violations which are currently pending.”