Pitney Lawyer Wins Fraud Verdict

Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - 01:00

Robert Triffin, considered one of the most litigious plaintiffs in New Jersey history, has been adjudicated a fraud by an Essex County through the work of Pitney Hardin LLP partner Dennis Kearney. Mr. Triffin has made a 15-year career of buying bad checks, then suing major New Jersey companies in the Special Civil Part, where it is cheaper to pay Mr. Triffin than to fight him.

The case has been closely watched by the bench, bar, corporate clients and media, who have witnessed the extraordinary volume of suits filed by Mr. Triffin since 1997.

It appeared that Mr. Triffin's efforts might continue until Automatic Data Processing (ADP) retained Mr. Kearney to defend a $12,000 claim by Mr. Triffin that ADP was liable under the Uniform Commercial Code for counterfeit checks.

"As a former prosecutor, I was able to bring two skills to bear on the Triffin matter," Mr. Kearney said, "first, an understanding of how to investigate fraud, and second, the ability to master and present complex evidence to the jury in an understandable way."

Mr. Kearny's investigation suggested that Mr. Triffin had been fraudulently manufacturing assignment agreements, and ADP counterclaimed. Motion practice successfully dismissed all of Mr. Triffin's claims, so that only ADP's counterclaim went forward. In a two-week trial, the jury returned a verdict of fraud against Mr. Triffin, awarding ADP $132,600 in compensatory damages. After a bifurcated hearing on punitive damages, the jury awarded ADP an additional $50,000 in punitive damages.