Members of the Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. Litigation Team (left to right):.Michael L. Rich, Charles J. Stoia, Diane Fleming Averell, Michelle Molinaro Burke, Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr., Steven P. Benenson, Kerri A. Wright, Jeffrey M. Pypcznski, Pamela R. Kaplan, David L. Disler, Eliyahu S. Scheiman, Roy Alan Cohen, Peter J. Gallagher, Joseph G. Dolan, Emre M. Polat
Members of the Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. Litigation Team (left to right):.Michael L. Rich, Charles J. Stoia, Diane Fleming Averell, Michelle Molinaro Burke, Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr., Steven P. Benenson, Kerri A. Wright, Jeffrey M. Pypcznski, Pamela R. Kaplan, David L. Disler, Eliyahu S. Scheiman, Roy Alan Cohen, Peter J. Gallagher, Joseph G. Dolan, Emre M. Polat (Carmen Natale)

With a number of certified civil trial attorneys and a products liability pedigree, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman has litigation in its blood, so to speak. But it was a decreased dependence on litigation that allowed the firm to survive and thrive.

At one time, asbestos litigation alone accounted for about half the firm’s revenue; at present, litigation of all types accounts for about 16 percent of firm revenue, according to Vito Gagliardi Jr., who co-chairs the Morristown firm’s litigation department, along with Diane Avril.

“Unlike a lot of the other major firms in New Jersey, our firm spent a significant amount of our time earlier in our history as a boutique focusing on litigation,” he said. “The heart of the firm has always been a robust litigation practice.”

Regardless of the proportion of revenue attributable to litigation, Porzio achieved a number of significant results in 2015.

The firm handled a multimillion-dollar contract dispute on behalf of Danish Crown, a producer of pork products, obtaining dismissal of counterclaims—and ultimately a $2.12 million verdict when the matter proceeded to trial earlier this year. The action, which the firm filed for Danish Crown in 2010, included four years of discovery and numerous depositions; the dismissed counterclaim by defendant Rupari Food Services Inc.—which Danish Crown claimed violated a $20 million sales contract—sought upward of $8 million in damages, according to the firm.

In Delaware chancery court, the firm represented real estate investors, 2009 Caiola Family Trust, in an action seeking to remove the investment property’s manager. After a three-day bench trial last year, the judge granted the relief sought by the trust in a 91-page written decision.

Also in 2015, the firm settled discrimination claims against clients Lowe’s Cos. Inc. and Chubb & Son by former employees (in the latter case, settlement came after two years of litigation and the plaintiff’s abandonment of most claims, including one for punitive damages). In another employee suit, including retaliation and disability discrimination claims by an injured employee against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Porzio’s attorneys declined to enter settlement talks, resulting in the plaintiff withdrawing the case.

The firm still is doing significant asbestos work, though the number or firms that can still make that claim has become fewer. Porzio remains national asbestos counsel to Schindler Elevator Co., and last year resolved an asbestos-related case on behalf of another client.

The firm is “still seeing a benefit of having a national reputation in that area,” but, while asbestos litigation represented half the firm’s revenue in 2000, it now accounts for only a small percentage, according to Gagliardi.

“The metamorphosis has been, even when the firm was riding the crest of asbestos defense work, the leaders of the firm were astute enough to diversify,” Gagliardi said.

Diversification was achieved by building a number of practices, chiefly real estate, bankruptcy, intellectual property and education law—all of which have a litigation component, he pointed out.

Gagliardi played a key role in building the education practice, which he chairs. The firm represents two-dozen public school districts, as well as private schools and colleges, he said.

Education clients accounted for several of the most significant litigation matters in 2015, including a case involving client North Haledon Board of Education that was resolved after 14 years. North Haledon sought to withdraw from the Manchester Regional School District for tax reasons, and, though it ultimately did not withdraw, a tax allocation decision by the state Department of Education after years of litigation achieved a similar result. The resolution, affirmed on appeal in 2015, saves the district’s taxpayers an estimated $1.5 million per year, according to the firm.

Last year, Porzio also notched a victory on behalf of the Merchantville Board of Education in a dispute over sending students to, and receiving students from, neighboring districts.

In addition to its trial practitioners, the department also has three former jurists, including retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice James Coleman Jr.; those jurists help evaluate and value disputes.

Clients might be more motivated than ever to avoid litigation, but having litigation experience makes an attorney all the more valuable in that regard, Gagliardi said.

“The experience you have as a litigator makes you a better lawyer for counseling you clients,” he said. “You’re better at it, because you’ve seen the way things can go wrong.”•

With a number of certified civil trial attorneys and a products liability pedigree, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman has litigation in its blood, so to speak. But it was a decreased dependence on litigation that allowed the firm to survive and thrive.

At one time, asbestos litigation alone accounted for about half the firm’s revenue; at present, litigation of all types accounts for about 16 percent of firm revenue, according to Vito Gagliardi Jr., who co-chairs the Morristown firm’s litigation department, along with Diane Avril.

“Unlike a lot of the other major firms in New Jersey, our firm spent a significant amount of our time earlier in our history as a boutique focusing on litigation,” he said. “The heart of the firm has always been a robust litigation practice.”

Regardless of the proportion of revenue attributable to litigation, Porzio achieved a number of significant results in 2015.

The firm handled a multimillion-dollar contract dispute on behalf of Danish Crown, a producer of pork products, obtaining dismissal of counterclaims—and ultimately a $2.12 million verdict when the matter proceeded to trial earlier this year. The action, which the firm filed for Danish Crown in 2010, included four years of discovery and numerous depositions; the dismissed counterclaim by defendant Rupari Food Services Inc.—which Danish Crown claimed violated a $20 million sales contract—sought upward of $8 million in damages, according to the firm.

In Delaware chancery court, the firm represented real estate investors, 2009 Caiola Family Trust, in an action seeking to remove the investment property’s manager. After a three-day bench trial last year, the judge granted the relief sought by the trust in a 91-page written decision.

Also in 2015, the firm settled discrimination claims against clients Lowe’s Cos. Inc. and Chubb & Son by former employees (in the latter case, settlement came after two years of litigation and the plaintiff’s abandonment of most claims, including one for punitive damages). In another employee suit, including retaliation and disability discrimination claims by an injured employee against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Porzio’s attorneys declined to enter settlement talks, resulting in the plaintiff withdrawing the case.

The firm still is doing significant asbestos work, though the number or firms that can still make that claim has become fewer. Porzio remains national asbestos counsel to Schindler Elevator Co., and last year resolved an asbestos-related case on behalf of another client.

The firm is “still seeing a benefit of having a national reputation in that area,” but, while asbestos litigation represented half the firm’s revenue in 2000, it now accounts for only a small percentage, according to Gagliardi.

“The metamorphosis has been, even when the firm was riding the crest of asbestos defense work, the leaders of the firm were astute enough to diversify,” Gagliardi said.

Diversification was achieved by building a number of practices, chiefly real estate, bankruptcy, intellectual property and education law—all of which have a litigation component, he pointed out.

Gagliardi played a key role in building the education practice, which he chairs. The firm represents two-dozen public school districts, as well as private schools and colleges, he said.

Education clients accounted for several of the most significant litigation matters in 2015, including a case involving client North Haledon Board of Education that was resolved after 14 years. North Haledon sought to withdraw from the Manchester Regional School District for tax reasons, and, though it ultimately did not withdraw, a tax allocation decision by the state Department of Education after years of litigation achieved a similar result. The resolution, affirmed on appeal in 2015, saves the district’s taxpayers an estimated $1.5 million per year, according to the firm.

Last year, Porzio also notched a victory on behalf of the Merchantville Board of Education in a dispute over sending students to, and receiving students from, neighboring districts.

In addition to its trial practitioners, the department also has three former jurists, including retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice James Coleman Jr.; those jurists help evaluate and value disputes.

Clients might be more motivated than ever to avoid litigation, but having litigation experience makes an attorney all the more valuable in that regard, Gagliardi said.

“The experience you have as a litigator makes you a better lawyer for counseling you clients,” he said. “You’re better at it, because you’ve seen the way things can go wrong.”•