Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 13,
2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Attorney Hanan M. Isaacs spent three years on a contingency case in an
unusual arena — reverse discrimination in federal employment — and
last week the case was settled in favor of his client, Michael C.
Ryan got his wish — that the FAA will review its policies. He also
a promotion, eight years of back pay with interest, and repayment of
all his costs and fees. Isaacs, whose office is at Princeton
Professional Park on Ewing Street, will receive $360,000 for about
2,500 hours on the case. Had he lost, he would have received nothing.
From the end of April to the middle of June of this year, the case of
Michael C. Ryan v. Norman Y. Mineta, Secretary, U.S. Department of
Transportation, had 22 days of testimony in Federal District Court in
Newark, Chief Judge John W. Bissell presiding. Judge Harold Ackerman
was in charge of the mediation that brought a settlement.
"We worked for three months to craft a very careful settlement
agreement that, basically, did exactly what my client wanted done,"
says Isaacs (Rutgers, Class of 1975, University of North Carolina Law
School, Rutgers master’s degree in legal history). Andrew Steinberg,
chief counsel for the FAA, led the settlement discussions (U.S. 1,
"There had been a series of discussions and I began to participate in
June, with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark and attorneys at the
FAA chief counsel’s office," says Steinberg. A 1980 alumnus of
Princeton University, he went to Harvard Law School and has worked
here in Princeton at Church & Dwight, as well as for American Airlines
Dollar amounts and many details of the settlement are not included in
official court documents but are specified in a private letter and a
private settlement agreement. The court documents deal almost
exclusively with new public policy.
"It was certainly not the run-of-the-mill employment case," says
Steinberg. "The unusual component was a constitutional challenge to
some of our personnel practices. We are pleased to put the litigation
behind us and looking forward to the review that we expect to be
Ryan, 53, had challenged the Federal Aviation Administration’s
approach to affirmative action over the last decade. He had turned
down a more lucrative settlement that would have included a pain and
suffering payment, and he held out for a change in the way FAA made
its employment decisions.
A resident of Mays Landing, Ryan claimed that in his 28 years with the
FAA, most of that time at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in
Atlantic City, the FAA had
repeatedly passed over him for promotion because he is white and male,
in violation of the equal rights guaranteed him by the Fifth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, and national origin.
A finding by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1995 case, Adarand
Constructors Inc. v. Pena, gave the courts a role in making decisions,
and this was followed in the same year by a Clinton administration
memorandum issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, which said that
"federal affirmative action programs that use racial and ethnic
criteria as a basis for decision making are subject to strict judicial
Isaacs maintained that the FAA had flouted the memo and that this case
was not a matter of discrimination against persons of color or other
nationalities. "I believe in equal justice, protection, and
opportunity," he had said. "And I believe in legal affirmative action.
But I don’t believe in creating preferences where there is no proof to
support them and unlawfully promoting people who are less qualified
over people who are more qualified in the light of some idea. That’s
not good social policy. And when dealing with air traffic safety, not
only is it wrong; it’s dangerous."
Because the FAA does not admit it was wrong, the case does not make
precedent, according the FAA’s counsel, Steinberg: "What we agreed to
do was to apply current law as well as the new EEOC directive issued
in 2003 that is binding on all federal agencies."
The FAA does, however, state that it will fix any problems. "We have
agreed to review all our personnel decision making processes,
everything related to hiring and selection of employees of the FAA,"
says Steinberg. "To the extent that we find anything that doesn’t
comply with the law, we will change it," he says. "Taking a very
careful look at all of those policies is something we should do anyway
and we were able to settle this particular case by agreeing to do it."
When an attorney works on contingency, he or she runs the risk of
losing the case of and being paid nothing. Isaacs received a fee that
was about one-fourth less than he had asked for, but both sides had
agreed to let Judge Ackerman determine the final amount. Isaacs says
he is satisfied. "If you are a small firm, you take one of these
cases, and you are in for a rough ride," says Isaacs. "It was a worthy
Most FAA cases are settled out of court, Isaacs notes, whereas this
one went to trial. "If we hadn’t had 22 trial days, it would not have
gotten the message across," says Isaacs. He was glad, he says, to
settle the case in the end, but Ryan, his client, had been focused so
long on defeating the government agency that at first he resisted the
It was up to Isaacs to persuade Ryan to quit fighting and take the
settlement. "We had 15 to 18 trial dates to go, and the chief judge
could have taken six to ten months to decide. I told him if that if
the administration changed hands, the FAA could change its mind, but
if we had a settlement it was binding."
Finally Ryan accepted the judge’s recommendation to settle. "Ackerman
told my client that he has been a trial judge for 50 years and that he
had never seen an agreement that he had seen here," says Isaacs. "’You
sir,’ he told my client, ‘are a winner.’"
While Robert Hillier has been renovating one of Princeton’s old
grammar schools, Ford Farewell Mills & Gatsch has been doing the
interior design for another vintage school, the old chemical science
building on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus (the Route 1 North
campus that is also occupied by the Princeton Plasma Physics
By the end of the year FFMG will vacate the Carnegie Center, after
four years in a temporary sublease, and move to 200 Forrestal Road,
taking the third floor and also the attic of the historic brick
building. This new home is just up the road from Mapleton Road, its
original quarters, which were distinctly un-corporate.
"We have been here longer than we anticipated," says Larry Capo of
FFMG. "We left Mapleton Road because we simply didn’t fit any longer,
and we had the opportunity to sublet this space while we looked around
for a home that felt more like FFMG."
"200 Forrestal Road is perfect for us," says Capo. "The building is
historic, and half of our business is historic preservation work. It
also affords us the opportunity to do some interesting renovation on
the interior that will reflect our new design work."
FFMG is going from 11,000 feet at the Carnegie Center to just over
8,500 feet in its new quarters. But the way it uses the attic will
make the space seem larger, Capo says, pointing out that the fourth
floor, "a real attic," will house the company’s server, telephone
equipment, library, and storage files. "Because we get to do all the
filing upstairs it actually increases the working space," says Capo.
"The new space will feel much more open. The ceilings are 13 feet."
Most important, the building has windows that open.
Carnegie Center, Suite 301, Princeton 08540-6235. James A. Gatsch
FAIA, managing partner. 609-452-1777; fax, 609-452-7192. Www.ffmg.com
Princeton 08540. Debbie Carter, realtor associate. 609-688-9900; fax,
Last summer Scott and Debbie Carter changed the name of their real
estate firm from DiMeglio Realty Group at Montgomery, and they now own
a Century 21 franchise. "It is one of the most well known logos in
country, and has one of best websites in the country, and the support
and training are spectacular," says Debbie Carter.
Scott R. Carter, the broker of record, has a degree from Montclair
State and has been in real estate for 20 years. Debbie worked for AT&T
before going into real estate eight years ago. The office is across
the street from Princeton Airport and is part of the Research Park
Road, Princeton Junction 08550. Elizabeth Scafa CFP, CPA,
609-750-0002; fax, 609-750-3304. Home page: www.myhdvest.com/lizscafa
Elizabeth Scafa moved from AAA Drive in Robbinsville, where she had
been subleasing from the Mount Ritter Group, which recently merged
with Mercadien. Her new office is on Princeton-Hightstown Road. An
accounting major at Baruch, Class of 1982, she worked for five years
at Morgan Stanley and quit to start her own firm. She does financial
planning (estate, retirement, education), investment management, IRA
and 401(k) rollovers, brokerage transactions, and annuities, and she
also has life, long-term care, and disability insurance.
"I wanted more independence and the opportunity to focus on the
products and services that I feel are most important to each client,"
she says. A certified financial planner and CPA, she is married to a
CPA with a home office. "Because this is so new, we have started to
work on large cases together, but for now we maintain separate
offices," she says. West Windsor residents, they have two children,
ages 21 and 17.
"He has always been encouraged by our being in the same field. Now we
have plenty to talk about in the evenings."
Princeton-Hightstown Road, Hightstown 08520. Robert C. Farkas, vice
president. 609-426-0555; fax, 609-443-0004.
The logistics firm has opened a 10-person office on
Princeton-Hightstown Road, but it is keeping a two-person office at
602 North Main Street in Hightstown, with which it shares a phone
number. It does consulting on transportation and safety – important
topics in a terrorism-conscious society.
07727. Tony Pizi, CEO. 732-919-3150; fax, 732-919-3152. Www.level8.com
After three years at the Carnegie Center this software company moved
with eight full-time employees to Farmingdale. In 2001 it had been
working with Merrill Lynch on Cicero software.
Boulevard, Princeton 08540. Thomas Healy, general manager.
609-452-7900; fax, 609-452-1223. Home page: www.westin.com
Thomas G. Healy has replaced John Crouch as general manager of the
294-room Westin Princeton. "I’ll be overseeing the multi-million
dollar renovation and improvements," says Healy.
A native of Sparta, he graduated from Johnson & Wales University in
Rhode Island and lives with his family in Byram. Most recently Healy
opened the Sheraton Overland Park Hotel, a 412-room convention hotel
in Overland, Kansas, but he has also been general manager of the
Sheraton Edison hotel and the Sheraton Parsippany.
Crouch is now in Washington ,D.C., as manager of the Westin Embassy
and the Westin Grand.
Brunswick 08901. Graham Lustig, artistic director. 732-249-1254; fax,
Barry C. Hughson is the new executive director of American Repertory
Ballet in New Brunswick and the affiliated Princeton Ballet School. He
will assume his duties October 1 and plans to move from New York City
to New Brunswick after the first of the year.
Hughson, 36, studied ballet at the Nutmeg Ballet in Torrington,
Connecticut, and danced with Washington Ballet in Washington, D.C.
Forced to give up professional dancing by chronic tendinitis, he
earned a certificate in arts administration from New York University.
He has been executive director of the Warner Theater in Torrington,
and executive director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York.
08541. Kurt F. Landgraf, president. 609-921-9000; fax, 609-734-5410.
Home page: www.ets.org
Educational Testing Service has renewed its contract with Thomson
Prometric to the tune of $1 billion over 12 years. ETS now uses
Thomson centers for computer-based testing, but it will more than
triple the number of centers it uses, and it will add Internet-based
Thomson Prometric, based in Maryland, has 4,000 online testing centers
worldwide. ETS now uses 1,000 of them under a $500 million contract
that expires in 2005. The first test to go online would be the Test of
English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
Based in Baltimore, Thomson Prometric bought ETS subsidiary Capstar in
August. Thomson Prometric is itself a subsidiary of publicly-traded
Thomson Corp. of Stamford, Connecticut.
Corrections or additions?
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