New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division Affirms Dismissal of Applicant’s Lawsuit Against the Commission Alleging Delay and Discrimination
August 23, 2021
On August 23, 2021, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of the amended complaint of Pasquale Falcetti, Jr. Plaintiff, who was represented by attorney George Daggett, alleged that the Commission had unreasonably delayed the processing and investigation of his application for registration as a maintenance man. The amended complaint alleged tortious interference with economic advantage, violation of plaintiff’s constitutional rights, failure to act, and breach of duty. Plaintiff sought immediate registration as a maintenance man, and lost wages.
Plaintiff’s father, Pasquale Falcetti, Sr., has been identified by numerous law enforcement agencies as a capo in the Genovese organized crime family. In 2003, Falcetti, Sr. was charged in a civil RICO complaint for extortion conspiracy and racketeering activities on the waterfront. He was ultimately convicted of defrauding the pension and welfare benefit fund for Port employees. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to extort money from owners, officers, employees and agents of the businesses operating in the Port and from other ILA labor union positions. He was permanently enjoined from any commercial activity in the Port. In 2014, Falcetti, Sr. was again convicted for extortion conspiracy and sentenced to 30 months imprisonment.
The trial court below found that Falcetti, Jr.’s application required a significant amount of consideration and investigation by the Commission in light of his admissions that he (1) associated with a known or reputed member or associate of an organized crime group; (2) was arrested for, charged with, indicted for, or convicted of the commission of or the attempt or conspiracy to commit any crime or offense, (3) was named or referred to in an indictment or other accusatory instrument or was named in or the subject of a search warrant or court electronic surveillance; and (4) was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident. Plaintiff also indicated on his application that, “he had been ‘asked about on a case of Harold Daggett about how [plaintiff] got the job of a [l]ongshoreman.’”
While the Commission’s investigation was pending, plaintiff’s prospective employer, Apexel, withdrew its sponsorship of his application for registration. In accordance with the Waterfront Commission’s Rules and Regulations, plaintiff was informed that his application had been administratively withdrawn for lack of employer sponsorship. Plaintiff alleged that the Commission intentionally delayed its investigation and took no action with regard to his application. The trial court acknowledged the Commission’s investigation took over two years, but noted that it was not “a simple investigation,” given all of the issues presented in plaintiff’s application. The court found that “[n]othing in [the] record suggests or establishes any arbitrary conduct [or malice] on the part of the [Commission] in connection with [plaintiff's] application.” The court dismissed plaintiff’s amended complaint and denied his motion for reconsideration.
In affirming the trial court’s decision, the Appellate Division found that in sum, the entirety of Falcetti, Jr.’s amended complaint, as well as his arguments on appeal, hinged on “‘mere speculation,’ unsupported by the evidentiary record.” The court found that plaintiff did not “offer any specific legal arguments or provide a single citation to applicable law in support of his contention.” In so holding, the court reiterated that “. . . it is not the role of this court to weave together the fabric of an argument on plaintiff’s behalf, or to fashion hypothetical arguments which may support a finding of a genuine issue of material fact as to one of plaintiff’s claims.” A copy of the court’s opinion is attached.
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