News of the Law Firm

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Firm Scores Victory in Published Appellate Division COAH Ruling

In the wake of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in In re Adoption of N.J.A.C. 5:96, 221 N.J. 1 (2015) (“In re N.J.A.C. 5:96 II”), the Court required municipalities to file declaratory judgment actions before the assigned Mount Laurel Judges. The Firm filed the required action representing Stafford Township. Thereafter, the Firm, as well as numerous other law firms representing various Ocean County municipalities filed an appeal to the Appellate Division concerning the narrow legal issue whether a “separate and discrete” gap-period affordable housing obligation is authorized by (1) the core principles of the Mount Laurel doctrine, as codified in the Fair Housing Act of 1985; and (2) In re N.J.A.C. 5:96 II. Resolution of this legal question specifically addresses whether a municipality’s prospective need involves a retroactive housing obligation starting in 1999.

On appeal, the Appellate Division in a published opinion rendered on July 11, 2016 ruled in favor of the Ocean County municipalities applying the core principles of the Mount Laurel doctrine and the plain language of the Fair Housing Act, including its unambiguous definition of “prospective need”–a forward “projection of housing needs based on development and growth which is reasonably likely to occur in a region or a municipality and following the Supreme Court’s admonition not to become an alternative administrative decision maker for unresolved policy issues surrounding the Third Round Rules, held that the Fair Housing Act does not require a municipality to retroactively calculate a new “separate and discrete” affordable housing obligation arising during the gap period. The previous methodologies employed in the First and Second Round Rules should be used to establish present and prospective statewide and regional affordable housing need and prior round unfulfilled obligations should be the starting point for a determination of a municipality’s fair share responsibility.

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The Ocean County Board of Freeholders appointed Christopher J. Dasti to the Ocean County Board of Health.  Mr. Dasti will served an unexpired term until March 23, 2017.  The Board of Health promotes healthy lifestyles and a clean and safe environment throughout the County.  The Board of Health assess the priority needs of the community through comprehensive health planning, educates residents about public health issues.

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The firm is proud to announce that it has two new Partners.  Christopher K. Koutsouris and Christopher J. Dasti were named Partners on June 9, 2016.  This event marks the addition of the first new shareholders to the firm in more than fifteen years.

Mr. Koutsouris joined the firm in 2003 and his practice focuses on personal injury, civil litigation,  municipal court practice, as well as both residential and commercial real estate transactions.  Mr. Koutsouris is one of only a handful of New Jersey attorneys to be certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court in municipal court law.  Mr. Koutsouris serves as municipal prosecutor or public defender in numerous municipalities through Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, and Burlington counties.  Mr. Koutsouris has presented continuing legal education classes on municipal court issues.

Mr. Dasti joined the firm in 2012 and his practice focuses on municipal government law, civil litigation, and real estate.  Mr. Dasti serves as municipal attorney for various public entities in Ocean County.  Mr. Dasti also serves on the executive boards of numerous organizations in the community.

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McGuckin & Dasti Victorious Before the Appellate Division

The Firm has scored another victory before the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. In Berkeley Family Apartments, LLC v. Township of Berkeley, decided on December 7, 2015, the Appellate Division, in the unpublished decision, held that a municipality’s governing body cannot be compelled to adopt a resolution of need.  The three judge appellate panel found that because the adoption of resolution of need is not a ministerial act, the plaintiff could not compel the township to adopt the resolution through a writ of mandamus.  The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint against the township.

Gregory P. McGuckin argued the case before the Appellate Division and Christopher J. Dasti authored the briefs.

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Firm’s Supreme Court Victory Heralded By New Jersey Law Publication

In its November 16, 2015 issue the New Jersey Law Journal cited the top 10 environmental law cases of 2015.  Making it into the top 10 was Griepenburg v. Ocean Township, 220 N.J. 239 (2015), a case in which the Firm successfully defended township ordinances under attack before the New Jersey Supreme Court.  Gregory P. McGuckin and Christopher J. Dasti, representing the township, argued successfully that the ordinances were part of a comprehensive scheme for establishing a town center, protecting the town from sprawl and, in a coordinated fashion, preventing the destruction of contiguous areas of inter-related and undeveloped sensitive natural resources.

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Koutsouris Obtains Numerous Personal Injury Settlement Awards

Christopher K. Koutsouris has recently obtained numerous personal injury settlements totally in excess of $500,000.   Two of the cases involved injuries sustained from slip and falls.  In the case of Stueber v. The Joe Kubert School of Cartoons and Graphic Art, Mr. Koutsouris obtained a $200,000 settlement for the client for injuries sustained from a slip and fall down a flight of stairs. Weeks later, Mr. Koutsouris obtained a $160,000 settlement for the client in the case of Milovanovich v. J&M Quinn LP, Center for Diabetes Education, and Community Medical Center for the injuries sustained from a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk.

Mr. Koutsouris has also recently received settlement awards in pedestrian cases. In Black v. Leahy and Black v. GEICO (underinsured motorist claim), the plaintiff was struck by a motor vehicle when legally crossing the street and suffered injuries. Mr. Koutsouris received a total settlement from all parties in the amount of $235,000. In another pedestrian accident, Estate of Nolazco-Romano v. Clayton, Mr. Koutsouris received $100,000 settlement award when the pedestrian was fatally struck on Route 9.

Mr. Koutsouris focuses his practice in the areas of criminal and municipal court defense, civil litigation, which includes personal injury, employment law, and Social Security Disability applications & appeals.


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Dasti Successfully Defends Zoning Board Approval at Trial

In a decision released on September 23, 2015 in Van Schoick v. Jackson Twp. Zoning Board of Adjustment, et. als. the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division affirmed at trial the Jackson Township Zoning Board of Adjustment’s approval of use and bulk variance approval to the applicant to construct a commercial office facility. The Zoning Board was represented by Christopher J. Dasti. The court found that the decision of the Zoning Board in granting the approval was a “relatively minor adjustment” to the township’s zoning ordinance and was “reasonable in light of the unique circumstances affecting the subject property.” The court found that the actions of the Zoning Board would have negligible impact on the zone plan and master plan of the township and thus the action was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.