Cases and Deals

Blank Rome Secures Appellate Victory for Retired New Jersey and Federal Law Enforcement Officials

Blank Rome secured a victory in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (“FLEOA”) and the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police (“NJ FOP”) on a key question pertaining to a retired law enforcement officer’s rights to carry a firearm under the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safey Act (“LEOSA”).

In a lawsuit filed in 2020, a group of retired law enforcement officers from the FLEOA and the NJ FOP asserted that the LEOSA gives them the right to carry concealed firearms across the United States and its territories, including in the State of New Jersey. The officers claimed that “the State of New Jersey [is] violating qualified active and retired law enforcement [officers’] rights under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act… [by] establishing a state patchwork of laws that ignore the clear language and rights outline in LEOSA.” The State of New Jersey argued that the federal statute does not provide that right, and, even if it did, the LEOSA would only apply to officers who retired from federal or out-of-state law enforcement agencies, but not to officers who retired from New Jersey law enforcement agencies. In June 2022, a district court ruled in favor of the FLEOA and the NJ FOP granting injunctive relief and the State appealed.

In a unanimous opinion issued on February 14, 2024, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s ruling and concluded that the LEOSA preempts contrary aspects of New Jersey law and provides qualified retired officers, including those who retired from New Jersey agencies, with an enforceable right to concealed carry under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, and upheld the district court’s injunction.

The Blank Rome team included Michael R. Darbee, Nicholas C. Harbist, Judge Stephen M. Orlofsky, Yaffa D. Stone, Rachel L. Cohn, and paralegal assistance from Jaime L. Luff.