Winning a judgment can be the easy part. Collecting the money, however, is another matter.
And 678 casino employees who worked for the former owners of Resorts Casino Hotel are now learning that unfortunate legal lesson.
They are also learning this truism, an African proverb: When the elephants dance, the grass gets trampled. And these 678 casino workers are the grass.
Resorts International Hotel Inc. is the former owner of Resorts Casino Hotel. RIH was an affiliate of Colony Capital LLC, a Los Angeles-based investment company that also owns the Atlantic Club through another affiliate, Resorts International Holdings.
When Resorts International Hotel defaulted on its mortgage, the property was taken over by lenders and eventually sold to the now-deceased Dennis Gomes and New York real estate magnate Morris Bailey.
The deal was what's called an "asset sale." Gomes and Bailey bought the buildings and the land - but not the company. Resorts International Hotel remained responsible for anything owed the people who worked for it. And it hasn't paid these 678 people nearly $597,000 for unused vacation time that they accrued while working for the company.
That's outrageous. And people wonder why there is an Occupy Wall Street movement in this country?
A year ago, the state Department of Labor won a judgment on behalf of the casino workers, who began filing complaints with the state in December 2010. They still haven't seen a dime.
"We cannot postulate whether the efforts to collect the judgment will be successful," Labor Department spokeswoman Kerri Gatling told Press staff writer Donald Wittkowski.
Needless to say, that's infuriating to people such as Northfield resident Dianne Simpson, a former credit executive at Resorts who is owed $2,505 for her unused vacation time.
This dispute has nothing to do with the current owners of Resorts Casino Hotel - but it has everything to do with Colony Capital and its affiliates.
Colony describes itself as a privately held independent global real estate investment firm with more than 250 employees operating in nine countries and managing $25 billion in assets.
Colony may not have a legal obligation here, but it has a moral obligation. The right thing for it to do would be to pay these former employees of one of its affiliates the money they are owed.
Furthermore, the Colony affiliate that owns the Atlantic Club appears to be on the verge of selling that casino hotel. The Casino Control Commission must approve any sale - and the commission should use whatever leverage it has to see that these 678 casino employees are paid.