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Darlene Pallay.

Kickboxing gym owner’s suit seeks compensation for COVID closure

Darlene Pallay’s filing charges Murphy violated Disaster Control Act by not compensating gym amid shutdown order

By Nikita Biryukov, September 23 2020 7:01 pm

The owner of a Franklin Borough kickboxing studio is suing Gov. Phil Murphy Thursday, claiming executive orders he issued early into the COVID-19 crisis violated parts of the Disaster Control Act.

Darlene Pallay, who operates a CKO Kickboxing franchise in Franklin, charges Murphy’s administration ignored a portion of the Disaster Control Act that requires the state government compensate to owners of properties “employed, taken or used” under the act.

In effect, the suit argues that Murphy needs to pay businesses forced to close by his March shutdown order.

“Beginning on March 16 with Executive Order 104, Governor Murphy decided to use the power given to him by the Act, to order businesses that he deemed ‘non-essential’ to close and to later reopen with severe restrictions,” said Robert Ferguson, one of Pallay’s attorneys. “But he did not follow the law, because he did not order that the affected property owners be compensated, forcing private owners to pay for a public benefit.”

The filing also charges Murphy’s orders breached the New Jersey and U.S. constitutions.

The suit was filed in Sussex County Superior Court and seeks a declaratory judgement against Murphy, though it’s not clear what damages Pallay is trying for.

Along with Ferguson, of the Florham Park law firm Stern Kilcullen and Rufalo, and Denville Attorney Catherine Brown are representing Pallay.

The suit was filed through the stewardship of Rescue New Jersey, a group recently launched by former Republican Morris Freeholder candidate Donald Dinsmore, former New Jersey Herald reporter Jennifer Jean Miller, attorney Alan Zakin, Morris County Republican vice chair Peter King and State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville), among others.

The group was launched in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 executive orders. Pennacchio, an honorary chairman of President Donald Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign, has long criticized the governor’s handling of the crisis.

The Disaster Control act gives the governor broad powers to take control of private property if doing so would promote public health, safety or welfare, but it also requires the establishment of an emergency compensation board in each of the state’s 21 counties.

Under the law, the board is required to award compensation to any parties affected by the government’s use of the act, though residents must file a petition with the body to receive such awards. If an award is approved, it must be paid within one year of the decision.

Rescue New Jersey
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