A 20-year feud over a beach club’s expansion landed in an appellate courtroom Oct. 23, with challengers seeking damages from the club owner and his lawyers — Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla of Middletown, N.J. — for pursuing a groundless SLAPP suit.

In 1986 when James LoBiondo began to enlarge his Sea Bright club, Grace Schwartz, owner of a house across the street, publicly denounced the project. LoBiondo sued for, among other things, tortious interference and emotional distress. Schwartz and her family countersued, alleging malicious abuse of process and emotional distress. A jury awarded LoBiondo $66,000 in damages, but it was reversed on appeal.

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