David T. Wilentz establishes the law practice that evolves as Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A. in offices located in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
G. George Goldman
Following his graduation from Columbia Law School, Gershon George Goldman joins the practice. A rising star in commercial real estate law and a life-long Perth Amboy resident, Goldman practices at the firm until his death in 1959.
David T. Wilentz and Lena Goldman (G. George Goldman’s sister) marry. Over the course of their 70-year marriage, they raise a daughter, Norma, and two sons, Robert and Warren. Robert and Warren follow in their father’s footsteps to become distinguished and influential lawyers and public servants in New Jersey.
Henry M. Spitzer
Following his distinguished service as an Assistant Prosecutor for Middlesex County, Henry M. Spitzer joins the Wilentz firm as a partner. In the decades that follow, Spitzer establishes and defines the firm’s prominently successful personal injury practice. He practices at the firm litigating high-profile cases until his death in 1988.
David T. Wilentz is elected as the Democratic chairman for Middlesex County and becomes known as a “kingmaker” in Democratic politics.
David T. Wilentz, Attorney General of New Jersey (1934-1944)
New Jersey Governor A. Harry Moore appoints David T. Wilentz as Attorney General of New Jersey. Wilentz becomes known as “General Wilentz,” and "The General” over the course of his two consecutive 5-year terms in the role.
Attorney General David T. Wilentz pointing to key evidence in the Lindbergh Trial.
As Attorney General, David T. Wilentz prosecutes the world's most notorious case known then as “The Trial of the Century” arising from the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping and murder. The baby’s father, Charles Lindbergh, (known as “Lucky Lindy”) had achieved world-wide fame years earlier for making the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
Hess Corporation ship named for David T. Wilentz.
As a mentor and close friend to Leon B. Hess, David T. Wilentz serves as a caretaker of Hess’ burgeoning business in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor after Hess joins the United States Army. In 1947, Norma Wilentz and Leon Hess marry.
Reprinted with permission. Warren W. Wilentz pictured in middle.
At age 19, Warren W. Wilentz joins the U.S Army, serving with the Combat Engineers of the 104th Infantry Division on the front lines in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He earns two Purple Hearts, the Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal for his bravery and distinguished military service. After World War II concludes, Wilentz earns his law degree from Rutgers University Law School in 1949.
At age 18, Robert N. Wilentz joins the U.S. Navy and serves from 1945 to 1946.
In an expansion led by six partners, the Wilentz firm relocates to larger offices at 252 Madison Avenue in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
Warren W. Wilentz is appointed as county prosecutor for Middlesex County, New Jersey and serves until 1960 when he is appointed as county counsel for Middlesex County, and serves in this role until 1967.
Shareholder and named partner Arthur J. Sills departs the firm following his appointment by Governor Richard J. Hughes as the Attorney General of New Jersey.
The County of Middlesex establishes Middlesex County College. Robert N. Wilentz is appointed as counsel. The firm, through shareholders John A. Hoffman and Gordon J. Golum, continue to serve as primary legal advisors to the College for more than 50 years.
Robert N. Wilentz is elected to the New Jersey Assembly where he serves two terms until 1969.
In a landmark pro-bono case, the firm prevails on behalf of ten families before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Bron v. Weintraub, saving claimants’ homes from a so-called "title raider."
Warren W. Wilentz and Rhoda S. Baime marry. Later that year, Warren W. Wilentz makes an unsuccessful run against incumbent Republican Clifford P. Case for the New Jersey seat in the United States Senate.
The firm begins its representation of the City of New Brunswick Redevelopment Agency that continues today. The redevelopment of New Brunswick, which includes hotels, high-rise apartments, college dormitories and facilities, a new high school, and a performing arts center, is one of the most successful redevelopment efforts in the country.
Left to Right: Jos. Mailman, Lena Wilentz, Leon Hess, Norma Hess, John Walstrom Photo Credit: Richie Productions Inc.
The firm represents long-standing client, Amerada Hess Corporation, in another major modernization of its New Jersey oil refinery. Earlier, the firm represented Hess in the 1958 construction of the Hess Port Reading oil refinery.
Expansion drives the firm to relocate to larger offices located at the Plaza 9 Building on Route 9 in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
In a landmark New Jersey Bell rate case regarding a $157 million rate increase, Wilentz Shareholder John A. Hoffman leads the public effort to rebut the increase, and, following compelling presentation of facts, evidence and expert testimony, he won the support of the Board of Public Utilities. The New Jersey Appellate Division upholds the no-increase precedent-setting decision, and Hoffman continues to define and distinguish the firm’s bourgeoning administrative law practice.
Robert N. Wilentz, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court (1979-1996)
Governor Brendan T. Byrne nominates Robert N. Wilentz as the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. At his swearing in, Robert N. Wilentz promises to preserve the traditional quality of New Jersey’s judicial system. He adds “[w]e will also try to improve it, of course, but if we succeed in preserving that tradition and quality, we will be satisfied.” For the next 17 years, Robert N. Wilentz provides distinguished leadership to the highest court in New Jersey.
Milton B. Conford, a former presiding judge of the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court (and a temporary member of the New Jersey Supreme Court), known for presiding over landmark cases such as the Karen Ann Quinlan “Right to Die” case, joins the firm as Counsel.
The firm represents the public in determining the balance of costs between the public and General Public Utilities regarding costs for the cleanup and repairs to the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island in the wake of a nuclear accident that is reported to be the worst commercial nuclear accident in America’s history.
Practicing at the forefront of regulatory law in New Jersey, the firm obtains a license for Caesars Palace, the second Atlantic City casino to open.
Matthias D. Dileo
Upon the departure of Robert N. Wilentz to become Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Matthew DiLeo becomes the firm's Managing Partner. He serves in this role for many years to follow.
Under the leadership of Frederic K. Becker, the firm defends the rights of its client in litigation arising from the development of the Great Adventure Amusement Park in Jackson, NJ. This litigation is successfully concluded and today Six Flags Great Adventure is among the largest seasonal employers in New Jersey.
Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Robert N. Wilentz receives the prestigious William J. Brennan, Jr. Award from the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey.
David T. Wilentz
The firm represents Amerada Hess Corporation in a significant expansion of its Port Reading, New Jersey oil refinery constructed in 1958, helping to further the corporation’s growth into a major American petroleum company.
The firm represents supermodel and actress Cristina Ferrare in the DeLorean divorce case, in which Ferrare divorces from famed engineer and automobile industrialist John DeLorean. Ferrare was DeLorean’s third wife and mother of their two children.
The firm opens an office in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Newport, Jersey City Redevelopment Copyright Realty Operations Group, Reprinted with permission.
Among New Jersey’s leading commercial real estate practices, under the leadership of Anne S. Babineau, the firm plays a key role in the redevelopment of the gold coast of Jersey City in the Newport Project. The firm represents the City in negotiating a $40 million Federal Urban Land grant as well as another $35 million in related federal funding for the landmark redevelopment project. The firm also successfully defends the City’s tax abatement agreements in the Tax Court, and other related redevelopment litigation.
On July 6, after 70 years as an icon of the legal profession and a democratic party colossus, David T. Wilentz passes away at age 93, and leaves behind the legacy of one of New Jersey's oldest, largest and most successful law firms.
Responding to the rapidly expanding toxic tort litigation practice in New York, the firm opens an office in the financial district.
A Wilentz employment law team, under the leadership of Maureen S. Binetti, wins an important ruling in New Jersey Supreme Court in the seminal case of Fuchilla v. Layman, a sexual harassment and civil rights action, securing a $1 million verdict for the plaintiff. The case concerned retaliation and the Conscientious Employee Protection Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Left to Right: Morris Brown, Fred Becker, Harold Smith, Warren Wilentz
The firm relocates to bigger offices at the David T. Wilentz Tower located at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
The firm recovers $17.9 million from asbestos manufacturers in its first Consolidated Brooklyn Navy Yard Trial, representing nine workers who developed diseases as a result of their exposure to asbestos while working at the Navy Yard.
The commercial litigation team secures a landmark $20.7 million settlement for Chevron Corp. in one of the most significant tax cases to be litigated in New Jersey Tax Court.
Wilentz Managing Partner Matthias D. Dileo is elected President of the New Jersey State Bar Association and serves a two year term.
On behalf of Dr. Robert B. Sica, the firm, led by Stephen E. Barcan and Richard J. Byrnes, wins an important ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Sica case (Sica v. Board of Adjustment of Tp. of Wall), securing zoning approval for a local trauma-focused hospital and setting precedent for future zoning procurement for “inherently beneficial uses” such as hospitals, churches, nursing homes, and utilities in New Jersey.
The New York Times comes to Edison, New Jersey to print the Sunday paper and the firm helps the publishing company to obtain zoning and other regulatory approvals to convert a 1,000,000 square-foot building into one of the largest newspaper printing plants in the world.
The firm recovers $110 million from asbestos manufacturers on behalf of workers injured by asbestos at power plants in New York State in the first New York Powerhouse Consolidation.
Frederic K. Becker
Shareholder Frederic K. Becker is elected as President of The Association of the Federal Bar of the State of New Jersey.
John A. Hoffman
Senior partner John A. Hoffman becomes executive director of the firm and serves in this role for the next two decades.
The firm successfully defends the new system of deregulation of telecommunications in New Jersey in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
At age 70, Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz passes away after 17 years of distinguished service on the bench in New Jersey's highest court. During his tenure, the Court ruled on important cases concerning discriminatory zoning that influenced the Legislature’s Fair Housing Act; rulings for state aid to equalize spending per pupil between underserved and wealthiest students; and ruling that recognized battered women’s syndrome as a defense in homicide cases.
In a case involving excessive police force, a Wilentz criminal law team wins a $17.5 million verdict, the largest awarded to an individual plaintiff in a federal civil rights case at that time.
The firm serves as co-counsel to the State of New Jersey against the tobacco industry and secures the landmark $7.6 billion settlement for the citizens of New Jersey.
Justice Alan B. Handler (Ret.)
Former Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court Alan B. Handler joins Wilentz as Counsel in the firm’s commercial litigation and ADR practices.
Wilentz helps to negotiate the landmark $3.75 billion class action settlement on behalf of people claiming injury by the diet drugs Pondimin and Redux, popularly known as Fen-Phen.
When the Board of Public Utilities decision approves the Transfer of Power Plants in what is part of a national trend to bring market forces to the electric industry, the firm advises Public Service Electric and Gas Company as it develops its plan and subsequently, successfully defends the plan in appeals through the New Jersey and U.S. Supreme Courts.
The firm helps to establish Trial Lawyers Care, one of the largest pro bono efforts in U.S. history, incorporated to represent potentially thousands of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by providing pro bono legal services to those who choose to make claims under the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Subsequently, the families of 98 percent of all those killed on 9/11, as well as hundreds of injury victims, filed claims with the Victim Compensation Fund.
Barry T. Albin
Barry T. Albin departs the firm after 20 years to begin service as Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Shareholder Frank M. Ciuffani departs the firm following his confirmation by the Senate as New Jersey Superior Court Judge. He serves on the bench as New Jersey Superior Court Judge, Civil and Family Divisions of Middlesex County until 2008; and later as the Presiding Judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, General Equity Division, and Probate Judge of Middlesex County until 2017, when he rejoins the firm to head the ADR practice.
Wilentz Chairman of the Board and member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Frederic K. Becker, receives the prestigious William J. Brennan Award from the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey.
Stuart A. Hoberman
Shareholder Stuart A. Hoberman is elected as President of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
Kevin Roddy becomes second Wilentz attorney to argue case in U.S. Supreme Court (David T. Wilentz was the first in 1940)
Brian J. Molloy
Senior Partner Brian J. Molloy becomes Managing Partner of the firm.
Daniel S. Bernheim, III
Under the leadership of Shareholder Daniel S. Berheim, 3d, the firm opens offices in Philadelphia, expanding its legal services to clients in Pennsylvania.
Following a 51 day long trial in a landmark product liability case, the firm, led by Kevin Roddy, helps to secure the four-state settlement covering one million plaintiff consumers who purchased Ford Explorers.
Wilentz, led by Lynne Kizis and Kevin Roddy, prevails as co-counsel to the plaintiffs in a class action suit against Health Net, Inc. alleging improper reimbursement of Health Net members in connection with insurance claims for " out of network " medical treatment. The United States District Court in Newark approves a $255 million settlement in class action suits against Health Net, involving more than two million people in several states.
Under the leadership of Kevin Roddy, Wilentz prevails as co-counsel to the plaintiffs in a class action suit against Solvay Pharmaceuticals, negotiating a $30 million settlement on behalf of a class of California purchasers of a hormone replacement pharmaceutical product that was alleged to have been falsely and deceptively advertised.
The firm's Environmental, Land Use, Real Estate, Redevelopment and Public Finance teams handled various large deals, including negotiating the terms of public private partnership for an over $60 million mixed use parking and retail project on Weehawken Waterfront, the redevelopment and sale of a 1.2M sq. ft. NJEIT financed warehouse/distribution facility in Carteret, and secured environmental, land use permits and a PILOT Agreement for the Bayonne Energy Center Power Plant.
As co-counsel, the firm, led by Lynne Kizis and Kevin Roddy, represented plaintiffs in a class action matter against United Healthcare. The suit charged the defendant with improper reimbursement of its members for insurance claims for "out of network" medical treatment. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a $350 million settlement on behalf of providers and subscribers.
Wilentz represents the seller in the landmark purchase and preservation of nearly 1,900 acres of land, spanning Monmouth, Mercer, and Burlington counties, purchased by the State of New Jersey. The $28 million transaction is among the largest joint preservation projects completed in the history of the Farmland Preservation and Green Acres Program.
Edward T. Kole
Under the leadership of Edward T. Kole, a Wilentz litigation team prevails on behalf of New Jersey Food Council in defeating an action by the State of New Jersey to claim untapped balances on retail gift cards when the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, finding that New Jersey’s statute pertaining to abandoned property was unconstitutional and void as preempted by federal law and in conflict with rulings by the United States Supreme Court.
Under the leadership of Kevin Roddy, A Wilentz litigation team negotiates a settlement of 100% reimbursement to plaintiffs across the country who had purchased Akavar 20/50 weight loss supplement based on its false claims of efficacy via breaking the blood-brain barrier to effect weight loss.
Clay Constantinou, Former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg
Clay Constantinou, former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, and former Commissioner of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, joins the firm as Counsel.
Wilentz represents the Township of Weehawken in a mixed use redevelopment project to transform its formerly industrial waterfront in an urban oasis, leveraging the resources available through the State Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. The $380 million redevelopment site along Weehawken’s Hudson River waterfront overlooking Manhattan includes up to 1,100 residences, a hotel, grocery and other retail stores.
As bond counsel to the City of New Brunswick, the Middlesex County Improvement Authority and the New Brunswick Parking Authority, Wilentz facilitates and coordinates over $100 million of public funding sources for the redevelopment and revitalization of the New Brunswick Cultural Center. Once completed, the Center will include two state-of-the-art theatres and ballet rehearsal space for the American Repertory ballet, in addition to over 200 rental apartments, including affordable living options.
A Wilentz litigation team wins an important ruling from the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court on behalf of Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa), defeating actions brought against the public school by the New Jersey Department of Education to halt its expansion to curriculum for seventh and eighth grade students, claiming that HoLa’s expansion would cause segregation.
Left: Lisa Gorab, Right: Satish Poondi
Wilentz Shareholders Lisa Gorab and Satish Poondi serve on New Jersey Governor Murphy’s Transition2018 Committees.
Wilentz General Counsel and Shareholder Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor departs the firm to begin her service as a New Jersey Superior Court Judge in Monmouth County.
In 2019, we celebrate our centennial, extending our sincere appreciation to the clients and friends that have helped to shape Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer’s story along the way.