Andrew Rubin, Esq.

Red Bank, New Jersey, appeals decision on gas regulators

When people in New Jersey decide to enter into civil or business litigation, it is because the matter is important and the stakes are high. Litigation can be costly and stressful, so it should generally take place only when it is not possible to resolve a dispute in mediation. Sometimes litigation is necessary to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, and in some cases when a judge does not agree with your claim, it is necessary to take the next step with an appeal.

This is the situation in which Red Bank, New Jersey, has found itself. The Monmouth County borough has decided to keep fighting against New Jersey Natural Gas after a judge recently ruled the utility can install gas regulators above ground throughout its downtown.

The legal dispute began in February when the borough denied permits to New Jersey Natural Gas as the utility moved to replace about 88 underground regulators with above ground regulators. The utility said above ground regulators sustain less water damage, but borough officials argued they are an unsightly safety hazard. In fact, the borough already has several above ground regulators in other areas, and a few of them have been struck by vehicles, causing gas leaks.

Unable to come to an agreement, the New Jersey utility sued Red Bank, claiming it was in violation of federal law by not allowing the utility to maintain the function and safety of the regulators.

A Monmouth County judge said Red Bank does not have authority to make decisions on such permits and ruled in favor of the utility.

Last week, the Red Bank Council said it would take the issue to an appellate court.

Filing an appeal is essentially having a decision reviewed by a higher court. Attorneys who are experienced in appeals look at cases to learn whether there are legal grounds for an appeal. Not all trial attorneys are also appellate attorneys, so it is sometimes necessary to find another attorney for the appeal. There is also a very limited amount of time in which appealing a legal decision is possible, so those who are interested in an appeal are wise to seek counsel as soon as possible.

Source: RedBank-Shrewsbury Patch, "Judge sides with Utility Over Regulator Spat; Red Bank Plans Appeal," Edward Van Embden, Oct. 11, 2012

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