By Jeanne Leong
Three outstanding graduates from Rutgers Law School were honored at the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Celebration for their contributions to the legal profession, service to the community, and achievements in the legal community.
On Thursday, Nov. 14, the Rutgers Law–Camden Alumni Association presented the 2018 Arthur E. Armitage Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award to the Honorable Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina, a 1981 Rutgers Law–Camden alumnus. David Kott, a 1977 alumnus, received the Honorable Joseph Nardi Jr. Distinguished Service Award. Eric Daleo, a 2008 alumnus, was honored with the Recent Graduate Award.
“Rutgers Law School takes immense pride in the achievements of these three honorees,” says Rutgers Law Co-Dean Michael Cahill. “As a group, they demonstrate how many things you can do with a Rutgers J.D.; more importantly, each of them demonstrates how much a single person can contribute to the profession and the community with a Rutgers J.D.”
The Honorable Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina
This year’s recipient of the Armitage Award is Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina, associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in 2013, Fernandez-Vina was the assignment judge of the Camden Vicinage. He was the presiding judge of the Civil Division, Camden Vicinage from 2007 to 2012. Through his career, he has served on Supreme Court committees covering a wide range of issues, including expedited civil actions, code of judicial conduct, jury selection in civil and criminal trials, and judicial salaries and pensions. Fernandez-Vina’s ties to Rutgers Law remains strong. His ceremonial swearing as an associate justice on the Supreme Court in 2014 was held at Rutgers University–Camden. In 2016, he served as the commencement speaker for the law school’s graduation in Camden.
The Arthur E. Armitage Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Rutgers Law School’s most accomplished graduates, including governors, attorneys general of New Jersey, noted civil and criminal trial attorneys, and general counsels to Fortune 500 companies. Established in 1983, the alumni award is a memorial to Armitage Sr., who, with a group of interested citizens, founded both the South Jersey Law School in 1926 and its companion College of South Jersey in 1927. In 1950, the Camden campus became affiliated with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. In July 2015, Rutgers’ law schools in Camden and Newark merged to become Rutgers Law School, the largest public law school in the Northeast.
Commemorating the life and accomplishments of the Honorable Joseph M. Nardi Jr., a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge, former Camden mayor, and 1956 Rutgers Law alumnus, the Nardi Distinguished Service Award was established in 2002 to recognize exceptional service to the law school and larger community. David Kott, this year’s honoree, is a partner at McCarter and English in Newark, N.J.
Kott has extensive experience in the areas of product liability and commercial litigation, trying cases in state and federal courts throughout New Jersey and in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, and Virginia. He often acts as lead counsel representing large corporations in class actions, including cases alleging violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (TCCWNA), as well as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and environmental torts. Kott is a longtime Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and was recently invited to join the Board of Trustees of the ACTL Foundation.
Established in 2010, the Recent Graduate Award honors Eric Daleo as this year’s recipient.
A 2008 Rutgers Law graduate, Daleo is the assistant executive director of capital planning and programs at NJ Transit, where he oversees the development of capital projects from planning stages through design development, engineering, construction, and commissioning.
He previously managed NJ Transit’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy and led efforts to secure more than $1.2 billion in competitive funding for the transit agency.
Earlier in his career, Daleo was an attorney at the law firm Patton Boggs LLP (now Squire Patton Boggs), where he defended the City of New York and its private contractors against thousands of claims arising from the post-9/11 recovery and cleanup operation at the World Trade Center disaster site.
Proceeds from this event fund the alumni association’s scholarships for Rutgers Law students.