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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Kiddie Kollege family files suit

By Ashley Randazzo
arandazzo@sjnewsco.com

FRANKLIN TWP. -- A mercury exposure lawsuit has been filed in Superior Court against owners and operators of the now-closed Kiddie Kollege day care center on behalf of a student and his parents.

Jonathan and Patricia Conti, parents of 4-year-old Jacob Conti, filed suit Thursday against Jim Sullivan Inc., Navillus Group LLC, Jim Sullivan Real Estate Services Inc., James Sullivan III, James Sullivan IV, Accutherm Inc., Philip J. Giuliano, Kiddie Kollege day care and preschool Inc., Stephen and Becky Baughman, and Julie and Matthew Lawlor.

Representing the Contis is Princeton attorney Stuart J. Lieberman.

Jacob Conti was enrolled at the school for "several years," and during his time at Kiddie Kollege was exposed to mercury, according to the suit.

The defendants were aware that the operation of a day care center on a property with heavy mercury contamination would injure those attending the school, the suit asserts, adding that negligent, reckless and intentional conduct of the defendants has resulted in harm, damages, and injuries to the plaintiffs.

The Contis seek to have the defendants immediately remediate the site in accordance with state Department of Environmental Protection guidelines; institute a program for monitoring and any other "special maintenance" the court deems appropriate to reduce the plaintiff's health risks; pay compensatory damages for medical expenses for all injuries the contamination caused; pay attorneys' fees and costs; and pay any further damages allowed by law.

A class action suit was filed in August against Jim Sullivan Inc. by Marc and Jennifer McGuckin-Mignano. Haddonfield attorney Philip Stephen Fuoco filed the suit in Superior Court, Woodbury, on behalf of the Mignanos. Their son, Isaac, 4 1/2, attended Kiddie Kollege when it first opened in 2004 on the site of a former thermometer factory.

That suit demands a court-supervised program of medical surveillance should be afforded every child who attended Kiddie Kollege since it opened until it closed on July 28 after air samples indicated elevated levels of mercury.
The Conti plaintiffs have served tort claim notices with the state DEP, the Gloucester County Department of Health and Institutions, and Franklin Township.