Kenneth Mr. Vercammen was included in the 2020 “Super Lawyers” list published by Thomson Reuters.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thomas John Salzano v. North Jersey Media Group, Inc.,


Plaintiff is the son of a former officer of NorVergence,
Inc., which is the subject of bankruptcy proceedings. The media
defendants reported on a complaint filed in federal court
against plaintiff by the trustee of NorVergence's assets. The
trustee claimed that NorVergence funds were fraudulently
transferred to plaintiff, and alleged that plaintiff "unlawfully
diverted, converted and misappropriated" NorVergence funds "for
his own personal benefit." The media defendants asserted in
their articles about the trustee's suit, among other things,
that plaintiff "stole" NorVergence funds. The trial judge
granted defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, which pled
numerous causes of action, including defamation, for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
In this appeal, the court reversed the dismissal of the
complaint, holding that defendants could not rely upon the fair
report privilege because the proceeding they reported on
consisted only of an initial pleading that had not been the
subject of judicial review. Absent the shield of the fair
report privilege, defendants could not demonstrate the
statements were true or nondefamatory. The court also held
that, although a private person, plaintiff was embroiled in a
public matter and must be held to the actual malice standard,
but the court also held that plaintiff should be permitted to
amend his complaint.