Lane Bajardi is “Bench Slapped” as all claims are thrown out of Hudson County Superior Court

In Hudson County Superior Court today, a ruling on all defamation claims of plaintiff and 1010 WINS newsreader Lane Bajardi ended unceremoniously when his entire case was thrown out of court.

The decision by Judge Patrick Arre means that a jury panel who heard five days of testimony in the plaintiff’s case had no legal question to consider in the the two year plus litigation.

Plaintiff counsel Jonathan Z. Cohen strenuously argued Monday the Court should allow a jury to consider nominal damages against defendants at trial. The court earlier ruled Lane Bajardi had no evidence or proof of any damages and emphasized today the complete lack of proofs in its verbally issued legal opinion.

In the end, the judge’s legal verdict cited to NJ law in the proceedings which began on January 26th did not allow for even nominal (or presumed damages) as Lane Bajardi did not show actual malice, a legal standard for public figures in defamation cases.

Lane Bajardi last September was ruled a public figure by the Court for his extensive activities in Hoboken politics over years. Much of the evidence offered by the defense counsel showed he was acting on behalf of Councilwoman Beth Mason from his own emails to her.

Judge Arre also cited “evidence of stolen emails” obtained in discovery by the defendants connected to the 2011 FBI DTR (Data Theft Ring) of Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s office. The reference was related to one allegation against Grafix Avenger dismissed with a handful left from the original dozens filed back in 2012.

The mayor’s office and all electronic communications were compromised in early 2010 through May 2011 according to the filed FBI complaint and was a point of contested testimony in the five day trial.

Bad news for Beth Mason. Lane Bajardi saw all his defamation claims thrown out of court earlier today. Her role in the longer than two year litigation has never been questioned although she announced it against the MSV editor in a July 2012 City Council meeting 15 days before it was filed against more than a dozen Hoboken residents.

One email among many detailed the heavy political operative activities Lane Bajardi performed to advance Beth Mason’s career including speech writing, putting together her 2009 platform among numerous other senior level political responsibilities.

Over 7,000 emails were obtained in discovery by the former defendants in months long legal battles between Lane Bajardi, Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi and Councilwoman Beth Mason and her husband Richard Mason, an attorney with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Some select emails from Lane Bajardi to Beth Mason were presented before the jury and showed similar senior level activity to participation on the controversial 2010 Occhipinti for Council campaign where almost 500 Vote by Mail ballots, mostly out of the Hoboken Housing Authority would be sent up the NJ law enforcement ladder to the NJ Attorney General’s Office.

Lane Bajardi testified he was merely a campaign volunteer who participated in Hoboken civic life. Although he denied it repeatedly in legal documents, emails identified further he was a years long ghostwriter of political articles on Hoboken411 where rigid censorship has operated up to at least July 2011.

Defense counsel did not present any case or a single witness, opting instead to motion Monday afternoon for the entire case to be dismissed.

Among the defense witnesses slated to testify included Mayor Dawn Zimmer who intended to testify about the FBI conspiracy of stolen emails from her office, long time senior political operative Tom Bertoli who works with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Hoboken City Council members Ravi Bhalla and Peter Cunningham, former council members Michael Lenz and Tony Soares.

In the end, the defense decided nary a single witness was required to win its case.

Lane Bajardi in a Hoboken City Council meeting circa 2010.  Both he and his wife,
Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi saw all of their defamation claims against numerous Hoboken residents
thrown out of court earlier today.

Last September, the Court ruled Lane Bajardi a public figure in Hoboken politics for his extensive political activity in Hoboken over years and quoted an email he himself wrote admitting he and his wife were “covering Beth’s (Mason) flank for years.”

Kim Cardinal Bajardi saw all her claims thrown out last September against numerous Hoboken residents and attended most of the trial and briefly testified to several questions but saw no questions at all from the defense counsel.

“The statement ‘paid political operative’ is meaningless.”
Defense Counsel for Grafix Avenger – Stephen Katzman 

On Monday, PolitickerNJ filed two stories noting the Plaintiffs case was challenged by the defense counsel as legally inadequate writing:

Attorneys representing two Hoboken-based bloggers accused of defamation moved to dismiss the case against their clients in Hudson County Superior Court on Monday, stating that the plaintiffs had failed to make a prima facie, or sufficient, case against the defendants.
“The plaintiff has shown no tie to his employer, and nothing that would cause harm to his reputation,” said attorney Stephan Katzman, who is representing Nancy Pincus, a Hoboken-based blogger, against plaintiffs Lane Bajardi and his wife Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi, after the jury was dismissed for the day. “The statement ‘paid political operative’ is meaningless in and of itself. It is not defamatory. Congress is full of paid political operatives. And if they are getting paid, so what?”

Roman Brice, a prominent political writer and reporter in Hoboken for The Hudson Mile Square View said, “Councilwoman Beth Mason announced this SLAPP in the July 2012 City Council meeting, 15 days before it was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Lane Bajardi and Kim Cardinal Bajardi against me and more than a dozen Hoboken residents.”

Concluding on the ugly politics in Hoboken in this SLAPP he added, “This is their biggest political operation versus the people of Hoboken to date and it utterly failed against the First Amendment and the New Jersey State Constitution where political speech holds the highest rung of protection.”

Brice testified to Lane Bajardi’s extensive political activities over years during “his waking hours” to “advance Beth Mason’s political career,” citing evidence in discovery emails provided by plaintiff and his own conclusions based on interviews and five years of investigative reporting in Hoboken.

The court’s September legal decision also mentioned former Hoboken Housing Authority chair Jake Stuiver who submitted an affidavit that Plaintiffs Lane Bajardi and Kim Cardinal were heavily involved in Beth Mason’s political operations.

Among those appearing to testify on behalf of Lane Bajardi included former Hoboken mayor and convicted felon Peter Cammarano and former Hoboken IT manager and convicted felon Patrick Ricciardi. Cammerano testified and briefly discussed his role with FBI informant Solomon Dwek never mentioning once the $25,000 he accepted in bribes.

Ricciardi testified to his theft of Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s emails and described himself at one point as “a victim of the system.” Council members Beth Mason and Timmy Occhipinti testified saying they had not paid Lane Bajardi. In the end, it didn’t matter as the defense concluded after the plaintiff’s stated case, they had no evidence whatsoever proving their case.

The judge’s decision proved that assessment correct. Bajardi attorney Jonathan Z. Cohen of Wayne, Pennsylvania stated an appeal will be made.

All other Hoboken residents with screen names put in the July 2012 litigation were dismissed most back in April 2014 with not a single allegation made against them.

Happier days for both former Hoboken mayor and convicted felon Peter Cammarano with endorsee Lane Bajardi at his 2009 inauguration. He would be arrested for taking $25,000 in bribes not a month later.

photo copyright MSV 2013, 2010, 2009

Related: PolitickerNJ spent the most time at the court proceedings and has the first story:

(Ignore Councilwoman Beth Mason’s non-denial denial. Everyone knows she doesn’t do anything let alone file paperwork.)

Michael Conte of the Jersey Journal filed this story:

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