Ft. Monmouth union lawsuit appealed

No date for a hearing has been set.

The union in its suit claims the Defense Department "committed intentional and knowing acts of criminal fraud, intentional misrepresentation and deception" in recommending closing the 90-year-old Army post.

But Federal District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper, sitting in Trenton, last month dismissed the suit, citing technical elements of legal procedure and precedent more than the merits of the union's arguments.

Cooper said, in part, that the union had no standing to bring some of the charges and that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear other portions.

Fort Monmouth was one of dozens of military installations closed or consolidated during the Pentagon's 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round — a nationwide shuffling of installations aimed at streamlining the military and saving money.

Under the BRAC decisions, Fort Monmouth, which employs more than 5,000 workers, supports another 22,000 and pumps about $3.2 billion into the state's economy, is to be closed by 2011. Much of its research and development mission is to be transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Eugene LaVergne, the West Long Branch lawyer representing the fort union, said at the time that he was unfazed by Cooper's decision.

"I believe that, legally, we're on sound ground," LaVergne said Tuesday. "And factually, you practically don't even need me standing there to win the case. If we can just get someone to say they have jurisdiction, I could almost apply for summary judgment on some of these charges."

LaVergne said oral arguments could be scheduled before the end of the year.

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