MONTGOMERY – The New Jersey Supreme Court has declined an appeal by Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) and its founders Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk, the conversion therapy providers who were barred from promoting and making referrals for fraudulent conversion therapy services in 2015.
The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey had previously upheld an order enforcing a permanent injunction against the New Jersey-based conversion therapy promoters and awarding attorneys’ fees for bringing the enforcement action. JONAH, Goldberg, and Berk asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to review that decision.
The following statement is from Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director, LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation:
“We applaud the New Jersey Supreme Court for reaffirming Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr.’s order enforcing the permanent injunction and settlement agreement. We are pleased that this decision will continue to help protect vulnerable people and families against those who look to push the harmful and ineffective so-called gay-to-straight conversion therapy sham.
“Michael Ferguson, et al., v. JONAH, et al. was a first-of-its-kind lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and co-counsel partners on behalf of four young men and two of their mothers against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a New Jersey-based organization offering so-called conversion therapy to people who are gay. The lawsuit charged that JONAH, its founder, and a counselor violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming that they could “convert” people from gay to straight.
“The New Jersey legislature, along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia, have since banned the practice on minors by licensed professionals. Yet these cruel, debasing treatments linger in some parts of the country, despite being discredited by every reputable medical and mental health association in the US.
“Despite previous rulings where JONAH’s program was found in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law, ordered to shut its doors and stop promoting conversion therapy, Plaintiffs remain entitled to $3.5 million in attorneys’ fees from the settlement agreement in the original case.
“We are appreciative to Bruce Greenberg of Lite DePalma Greenberg & Afanador, LLC of Newark, New Jersey, who served as co-counsel and argued the appeal to the Appellate Division, and to Lina Bensman, Luke Barefoot and Thomas Kessler of global law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP who also serve as co-counsel in this landmark case.”
Lina Bensman, partner at Cleary Gottlieb, said: “The brave plaintiffs who brought the original lawsuit against JONAH have been vindicated at every step. We hope that other vulnerable gay people will feel affirmed by the outcomes we have achieved in this case. Gay and bisexual people are not mentally ill, and do not need a “cure.” Anyone hoping to defraud them by charging them money for dangerous and unscientific conversion therapy services should think twice.”
To read more about the original case: https://www.splcenter.org/seeking-justice/case-docket/michael-ferguson-et-al-v-jonah-et-al
To read the Appellate Division’s opinion: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.njcourts.gov%2Fattorneys%2Fassets%2Fopinions%2Fappellate%2Funpublish...