April Kauffman was murdered in her home just outside Atlantic City, New Jersey, on May 10, 2012. About a year later, her daughter, Kimberly Pack, walked into our law office at D’Arcy Johnson Day looking for help. Having recently been turned down by a major Philadelphia firm, she knew the deck was stacked against her but she refused to quit. She came into our office and said: “I believe my step-father murdered my mother and I need help proving it.” It should be noted her step-father, Dr. James Kauffman, was a respected local physician. After listening to Kimberly’s pitch, myself and my brother, Patrick, with the backing of our law partners, decided to enter the fight for April’s justice.
Why did Kimberly come to a civil trial litigation firm that generally focuses on injury cases? The answer is a bit complex, but I believe can be summarized as follows: (1) the Prosecutor’s Office appeared to be at a stand-still and there seemed to be no prospect of an indictment forthcoming; (2) her step-father sought life insurance money, so the civil courthouse doors were open to litigate this case; and (3) trial lawyers teamed with a passionate and relentless client can cause serious problems for a criminal.
Over the next 5 years, myself and my brother, Patrick, along with our client, Kimberly, investigated every nook and cranny available to us regarding this murder. In addition to defending Kimberly’s civil rights regarding the life insurance proceeds, we also filed a wrongful death complaint against Dr. Kauffman alleging his involvement in the murder of his wife. Although the community believed nothing was being done on the case, and that it had turned “cold,” we quietly utilized the civil justice system to conduct numerous interviews, review hundreds of pages of phone records, text messages, emails, photos and other documents. We were also able to conduct video-taped depositions of fact witnesses, including that of Dr. James Kauffman. Our discovery was extensive and exhausting, including a lengthy battle with the County Prosecutor’s Office over investigative materials. All the while, our client continued to beat the drum looking for answers for her mother. As we learned information, we turned it over to law enforcement but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Nonetheless, we kept marching along.
The story we uncovered was truly insane. We learned that Dr. Kauffman and April were in an extremely volatile relationship, with greed playing a significant role in Dr. Kauffman’s personality. We learned Dr. Kauffman was not afraid to lie, including playing the part to anyone who would listen of a war-tested U.S. Army Green Beret Veteran, when in fact he never served a day in the military. Through phone records we learned of hundreds of calls back and forth between Dr. Kauffman and a “burner phone” that would last for 8 months and would mysteriously end on the evening prior to April’s murder. Importantly, we would learn of a strange relationship between Dr. Kauffman and the Pagan Motorcycle Club, which included the sale of opioid prescriptions for cash. Almost six years following the murder, a newly appointed Prosecutor, Damon Tyner, listened to us and put the pieces together with his own investigative efforts to make arrests and indict James Kauffman for arranging the murder of his wife. A coward to the very end, Kauffman committed suicide within weeks of the indictment while in jail.
The craziness of this story, the extent of the work that went into this case and the passion of our client in seeking justice cannot be captured in a blog. The ABC News show 20/20 will attempt to give a glimpse into the story tomorrow evening, June 22nd at 10/9c on ABC. However, in the end, the take away is simple. Passion and the unabating pursuit of justice produced results…and the civil justice system played a major role in that effort.
As a partner with D'Arcy Johnson Day, Andrew D'Arcy has been involved in some of the nation’s most high-profile cases and investigations. His practice includes serious automobile accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death and product defect cases. Andrew has been personally responsible for numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients. He has been recognized by his peers as an "AV" rated attorney, the highest possible rating given by Martindale-Hubbell publication. Andrew has been named a "Super Lawyer" by New Jersey Monthly magazine each year consistently since 2013.