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Grapevine: On the Rhode to court, part one

California-based Prime Healthcare’s lawsuit against Hudson Holdco and its principal, Vivek Garipalli, reaches beyond New Jersey’s borders. Among allegations of anticompetitive practices Prime has levied against Holdco are issues relating to the two companies’ competition over a hospital in Woonsocket, R.I.

According to the lawsuit, filed in March, Garipalli offered to withdraw Holdco’s bid for Landmark Medical Center if Prime agreed to stay out of the New Jersey market. Prime says this offer was made even after Holdco’s offer was deemed unqualified by the receiver in charge of the bankrupt hospital. Prime also alleges that after the company signed an asset purchase agreement with Landmark, Holdco negotiated and signed collective bargaining agreements with Landmark’s unions.

A letter from Holdco’s attorney, Thomas Ajamie, of Ajamie LLP, to Bruce Rosen, of McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli P.C., Prime’s attorney, denies the allegations, and states Holdco had been “actively pursuing business opportunities in Rhode Island for nearly two years, long before Prime re-entered the Landmark bid process.” Ajamie said in the letter that Holdco would defend all allegations, and potentially file suit against Prime.


Fawning over ‘Fall’

Forget “Dancing with the Stars.” Last Tuesday, the thing to watch was the New Jersey film premiere of “Fall to Grace,” about Jim McGreevey’s transition from disgraced governor to advocate for incarcerated women with the Integrity House program.

Among the people reportedly in attendance at the event, held at Kean University, were Barry Albin, Paul Fishman, Ray Lesniak, Regina Thomas, Ted Romankow, Bill O’Dea and Maggie Moran. McGreevey’s parents and sister attended along with his partner, Mark O’Donnell.

McGreevey was mobbed by well-wishers, offering them hearty hugs and posing for photographs.

Lesniak said the documentary, which will appear on HBO, is evidence McGreevey is engaging with people who need help.

“It shows Jim McGreevey is still a politician at heart, meaning he loves people and loves to be engaged with people,” the state senator said.

But not everyone is a fan of the former governor, with one observer calling McGreevey “the gift that keeps on giving for the media.” Lesniak noted the media attention now is positive, not negative.


Rhode to the courthouse II

The road to the Final Four may have been paved this past weekend, but the course is still being charted for a different kind of collegiate showdown — the legal clash between Rutgers University and the Big East.

The case, which centers on Rutgers’ plan to leave the conference, is now in the hands of a federal judge in Newark after being moved from state Superior Court late last year. But attorneys for the Big East are now asking to have the proceedings moved to Rhode Island — where the conference keeps its headquarters — if not scrapped altogether.

The requests were laid out last month in a motion to dismiss filed by attorneys from Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski P.C., in Cranford, which is representing the conference. Court documents show a judge is scheduled to hear the motion early next month.

Rutgers, which is moving to the Big Ten, sued in November seeking a waiver of a $10 million exit fee and the required 27 months’ notice to leave the conference. Rutgers also is demanding its share of nearly $40 million in exit fees the conference is collecting from several other departed schools, while alleging the Big East has “selectively decided not to enforce its bylaws” for other institutions.

The conference has since asked the court to dismiss the suit, or at least move the case to arbitration or to a federal court district in Rhode Island, which it says is consistent with a “forum selection requirement” in its bylaws.


Lights out in Newark

The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel is moving its digs from Newark to Trenton.

Ratepayer advocate Stefanie Brand said the office and its more than 30 employees will move April 8 to 140 E. Front St.

Brand said the move is part of a plan by the state to centralize operations and bring the rate counsel office closer to the Board of Public Utilities. Office size in Trenton is about the same as the Newark location, where the rate counsel division, which advocates for consumers of utilities and related industries, has operated more than 20 years.


Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at sharonw@njbiz.com.

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