Cleary Gottlieb, SPLC, and Lite DePalma Help Secure Victory Against JIFGA
June 11, 2019
Cleary Gottlieb, along with co-counsel the Southern Poverty Law Center and Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC helped to secure a victory against an organization known as the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA), which facilitates fraudulent gay-to-straight “conversion therapy.”
Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. ordered the dissolution of the organization on June 10, 2019, because its founders were barred from promoting the fraudulent practice in 2015. Judge Bariso issued a 47-page written decision finding that the defendants have violated a 2015 injunction and settlement agreement involving the group, then known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH).
In order to “deter and punish” the defendants, Judge Bariso also barred JONAH’s founders from serving as directors of any New Jersey nonprofit corporation and ordered that they pay attorney fees incurred in connection with plaintiffs’ efforts to enforce the injunction. The court also ordered the defendants pay the full amount owed under the settlement agreement.
“The court previously had ordered JONAH to shut its doors and stop promoting conversion therapy because a jury found that its program was fraudulent and unconscionable – in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The ruling today – concluding that defendants have violated that court order – confirms that the court meant what it said. Conversion therapy necessarily is fraudulent because it is based on the lie that LGBTQ people can and should be fixed. Along with our clients and other allies, we will not stop until we eradicate these dangerous practices in New Jersey and around the country.”
On Friday June 7, lawyers from the SPLC, Cleary, and Lite DePalma Greenberg presented oral arguments on motions urging Judge Bariso to enforce the permanent injunction and settlement agreement between JONAH (now known as JIFGA) and the plaintiffs.
In a landmark June 2015 victory, a jury found that JONAH falsely claimed that it could change its clients from gay to straight and was in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law. The defendants have continued to flagrantly violate the court’s injunction more than three years later.
Cleary partner Luke Barefoot said, “When we learned that JONAH continued to operate under a new name and, in defiance of the jury’s verdict, carry on the same unconscionable practices that harmed so many vulnerable young people, we knew our job was not over.”