OCEAN CITY – Gene Kalsky is ready to celebrate after a Superior Court judge Jan. 14 vacated a $12.5 million judgment from Arkansas related to sending a fax.
He said he needed to hire seven lawyers to defend the case over several years, at a cost close to $500,000. The suit hurt his business and caused him distress, he said.
“This has been my life,” Kalsky added.
In a 16-page ruling, Superior Court Judge Susan L. Claypoole found that the Arkansas court violated due process, and that the judgment could not be enforced in New Jersey, where Kalsky faced the possibility of seeing his beachfront home in Ocean City auctioned in a sheriff’s sale to help satisfy the judgment.
“Now, we have to send the order to Judge (Christopher) Gibson in Cape May, and say, based on the judgment, could you please release my house?” Kalsky said Jan. 25. About a year ago, Gibson held off the sale of the house while the appeals moved forward.
At issue was a fax sent to a company in Pope County, Ark., which courts in that state found violated the 1990s-era Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Kalsky’s wholesale pipe and plumbing business, Gen-Kal Pipe and Steel Corp., in Mount Laurel, regularly sends faxes listing specials to stores around the nation.
While one fax was placed into evidence, the courts found that he sent 25,000 faxes to the state, listing each as a separate violation, adding up to the $12.5 million judgment.
Claypoole’s ruling does not overturn the judgment, but vacates the “domestication” that allowed it to be enforced in New Jersey. The original lawsuit was filed in 2015. Kalsky said he was under a great deal of pressure to settle the suit, but said he would rather pay lawyers than settle.
“I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this. I’m glad I hung in there. I had a lot of support,” he said.