Dick Grabowsky remains victorious in his assisted living conflict of interest suit, but the township of Montclair will not have to pay Grabowsky’s $123,225.91 in legal fees.
Back in 2016, the court ruled for Grabowsky that a conflict of interest, due to Councilor Jerry Fried and Nick Lewis being members of the church adjacent to the planned Kensington Montclair Assisted Living property, was present in the previous township council. Grabowsky was also awarded to have his legal fees paid.
In an opinion released this morning by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate division, that decision was reversed. The opinion states:
An attorney fee award to plaintiff serves none of these policies but does penalize the municipal taxpayers who derived no tangible economic benefit from the litigation. Therefore, in addition to failing to meet the threshold requirement that a fund be created, preserved, increased or at least the subject of litigation, the award could not be made “equitably” and consistently with the principles underlying our policy that parties should generally bear their own litigation expenses.
Grabowsky, reached for comment today, was not surprised by the reversal.
“We never really expected to get this money and it was frankly a surprise when it was suggested that we could get reimbursed for our legal expenses. I never did this for that reason. I only had the town’s best interest at heart and never expected to get repaid for my legal fees. If I had been awarded my fees it would have been a precedent setting case,” says Grabowsky, who adds that he looks forward to the time when a beautiful apartment building will be built on that site that will benefit the downtown and bring quality shoppers to the neighborhood.