Pinelands member taking social media critics to court

Jane Jannarone

BRIDGETON – A state Pinelands Commission member is taking 14 people into state court over alleged insults on social media, including one unsympathetic lyrical comparison to the devil, because of her support for a natural gas pipeline.

Vineland resident Jane Jannarone claims, in a lawsuit filed in Cumberland County Superior Court on March 20, that the postings set out to and actually did do damage to her real estate business and her reputation.

Jannarone, a former Democratic freeholder in Cumberland County, is among the majority of Pineland Commission members who voted in late February in favor of allowing the South Jersey Gas project to finally proceed.

The lawsuit alleges defamation by all 14 defendants and an additional charge that the defendants illegally interfered with her business. The lawsuit does not specify the damages but states that their extent will be “established at trial.”

The lawsuit attaches one social media posting to each defendant mentioned.

For example, Cherry Hill resident Samantha Magpiong allegedly posted: “Thanks for selling out our pipelines! Think twice about using this business. You voted with your $$ people.”

The suit claims Oaklyn resident Scott Morse posted: “In my interaction with Jane, I found her to be very rude and unprofessional.”

The suit attributes to Medford resident Kate Slaughter Conlow a rewrite of The Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil.”

It reads: “Please allow me to introduce Jane Jannarone. Shes a realtor of wealth and taste, been around for a long long time, stole the pinelands soul and faith. She was round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain, made damn sure to pilate, washed his hands and sealed his fate. Jane is pleased to meet you, hope you guess her true name, but what puzzling you is the nature of her game.”

The lawsuit alleges statements were “made maliciously and with the intent to destroy plaintiff’s professional reputation and career. Jannarone also suffers “extreme mental anguish and distress,” it adds.

Jannarone is both an appointed state official as well as a former elected official. She faces a higher burden of proof in pursuing a defamation lawsuit than if she were a private citizen under federal constitutional case law.

South Jersey Gas wants to build a 22-mile pipeline, most of it across Pinelands land, from Maurice River Township in Cumberland County to Upper Township, Cape May. The gas is intended for the Beesley’s Point Generation Station in Upper Township.

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Jannarone, who owns a real estate company in Vineland, joined the commission in June 2014 to represent Cumberland County.

Few people named as defendants in the lawsuit live in Cumberland County or near the pipeline path, nor does the filing mention on what social media the postings appeared.

The other defendants and postings identified in the lawsuit are as follows.

  • Janet Mendel of Medford: “While serving as Cumberland County Commission, Ms. Jannarone was busy on her cellphone while the public was expressing their concerns about the proposed pipeline through the Pinelands. I would not trust her to listen to your concerns.”
  • Heather McGarvey of Shamong: “Terrible company run by a horrible person, wish I could give 0 stars.”
  • Christine Mamas of West Berlin: “Would never use her business or recommend her. She is a shill for the gas company and Chris Christie. She sold out our Pinelands to the highest bidder and should be ashamed of herself.”
  • Tim McGarvey of Shamong: “Makes terrible decisions and doesn’t care about your future. For the right price though she can pretend. Thanks for your poor decision in voting yes for the pipeline!”
  • Christine Giberson of Yardley, Pa.: “Shame on you. You sold our pinelands to the big gas companys!”
  • Barbara Ehrmann of Somerdale: “Would never use this business never a pipeline in our pines.”
  • Stormi Hill of Atlantic Highlands: “Terrible person! Coward. Sell out. Stay far away! Shame on you.”
  • Martin O’Conner of Beverly: “Wish I could give 0 stars. No integrity. Sellout. Rude. Disrespectful.”
  • Matthew Orlandini of Vineland: “If you’re looking for somebody to specifically sellout against your interest and (expletive) you over, this greedy (expletive) is surely the person to call.”
  • Drew Levinson of Toms River: “A disgrace to the Pinelands. Cares about nothing more than the mighty dollar.”
  • Adelaide Beatrice Naphys of Stratford: “I think Jane is a piece of ?!!!!! How dare you vote yes to a pipeline!”

The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages from each defendant, as well as legal fees and costs.

Jannarone is represented by Douglas Long, chair of the Cumberland County Democratic Party and also a former freeholder.

Joseph P. Smith; (856) 563-5252; [email protected]