Cappuccio files defamation suit

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ABSECON – A developer of the downtown Absecon Gardens project has filed a lawsuit against a local critic and his attorney has sent letters to two others – leaders of the Save Absecon Committee – advising them of a “potential claim and possible litigation.”

Atlantic City attorney Louis Niedelman of Cooper Levenson April Niedelman & Wagenheim represents Tony Cappuccio of Ventnor, owner of Boardwalk Development and Design, in a suit alleging that Barbara Brown “issued defamatory statements and information constituting libel and slander thereby irrevocably damaging the reputation and character of the plaintiff.”

Brown owns a store called the British Connection at 130 New Jersey Avenue.

She has also spoken at public meetings, criticizing the Absecon Gardens project at the old H. Ashton Marsh School site on New Jersey Avenue.

In  addition to Brown, the suit names as defendants, John Does 1-5 and Mary Does 1-5.

Niedelman also sent letters to Save Absecon leaders Joseph Courter and Robert Kusnirik, both of Absecon.

“I have reviewed information and have conducted investigation which point to your engaging in defamatory conduct, including libel and slander, directed to my client,” the attorney wrote. “The purpose of this letter is to place you upon notice of a potential claim and possibly litigation resulting from your conduct both personally and on behalf of the Save Absecon Committee. You are directed to cease and desist from any defamatory verbal and written statements   that   are  defaming my client’s character and reputation.”

Brown lives on Church Street, across the street from Absecon Gardens.

Her business is the retail sale of British food specialties such as brown sauce, Branston pickles, Cadbury chocolate, piccalili, Danish bacon, McVities biscuits and Marmite spread.

The British Connection opened in 2002 at Historic Smithville in Galloway, moving to Absecon seven years later.

The lawsuit filed Monday, June 18 in the Superior Court of New Jersey Atlantic County

Law Division seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and

costs.

Save Absecon is a group which emails notices to members and issues press releases opposing Absecon Gardens development.

It also filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Absecon Planning Board for removing the age restriction from the project.

In March, Superior Court Judge Allen J. Littlefield upheld the Planning Board’s May 2011 decision to approve the Absecon Gardens project and eliminate its age restriction.

The action against the Planning Board and Boardwalk Development and Design Co. was brought by Joseph A. and Judith M. Courter, Bud Noble, Emily Guarriello and Shirley Lathbury – representing a larger group known as the Save Absecon Committee.

The committee has since announced plans to appeal the court decision. It has also offered to transfer resources needed for the appeal to market the property as a 55-and-older property as it was first approved several years ago.

Before it can finish the project, Boardwalk Development and Design must still receive council approval on several issues including allowing an exception to the municipality’s height limit on the main structure which has already been built.


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