New clients email us evenings and weekends go to www.njlaws.com/ContactKenV.htmKenneth Vercammen was included in the 2015 “Super Lawyers” list published by Thomson Reuters.

Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on litigation topics. He was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures for the Bar and handles litigation matters. He is Past Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Committee,GP on Personal Injury and was a speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting attended by 10,000 attorneys and professionals. To schedule a confidential consultation, email us at VercammenAppointments@NJlaws.com, call or

visit Website www.njlaws.com

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C.

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(732) 572-0500

Sunday, September 25, 2016

MYRNA B. TAGAYUN AND ROBERT S. MANDELL v. AMERICHOICE OF NEW JERSEY, INC., ET AL. A-1628-13T1

MYRNA B. TAGAYUN AND ROBERT S. MANDELL v. AMERICHOICE OF NEW JERSEY, INC., ET AL. 
A-1628-13T1 (NEWLY PUBLISHED) 
In this matter the trial court awarded counsel fees against two pro se plaintiffs for the filing of two complaints, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1(a)(1) and Rule 1:4-8(a), which allow an award of counsel fees when a pleading filed by a non-prevailing party is frivolous. When the original complaint was dismissed by the court as lacking merit, the plaintiffs filed both a second complaint and an appeal. We concluded the award of counsel fees was appropriate for the filing of the second complaint, but not for the first complaint. 

We explain the history of the frivolous pleading sanctions and the need to strictly construe the term "frivolous" to avoid litigants becoming afraid to access the courts because of a fear they may be sanctioned if they pursue a good faith, but misguided claim. 

Ramon Cuevas v. Wentworth Group (A-30-14;

Ramon Cuevas v. Wentworth Group (A-30-14; 075077) 

A judge should not rely on personal knowledge of other verdicts or comparative-verdict methodology when deciding a remittitur motion. In this case, the trial judge did not rely on personal knowledge of other verdicts or comparable verdicts presented by the parties in deciding the remittitur motion, but rather on the record before her. The denial of remittitur here conforms to the deferential standard of review of a jury’s award of damages. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

LEONIDES VELAZQUEZ VS. CITY OF CAMDEN AND OFFICER ALEXIS RAMOS A-4627-13T4


LEONIDES VELAZQUEZ VS. CITY OF CAMDEN AND OFFICER ALEXIS RAMOS
A-4627-13T4
We reverse the no-cause verdict in this New Jersey Civil Rights Act action brought by the victim of a police shooting against a Camden police officer and the involuntary dismissal of the case against the officer's employer, City of Camden, on the basis of two critical evidentiary errors.
First, the trial court, over plaintiff's objection, permitted an assistant prosecutor who headed the homicide unit to testify that after reviewing the investigation of the shooting, he determined not to criminally prosecute the officer. The obvious import of that testimony was that the prosecutor believed the officer's shooting of plaintiff was a justifiable use of force. We conclude the assistant prosecutor's opinion was clearly inadmissible under the lay opinion rule, N.J.R.E. 701, and because the jury could very well "have ascribed almost determinative significance to that opinion," Neno v. Clinton, 167 N.J. 573, 587 (2001), the error could not be considered harmless.
Second, the trial court barred plaintiff from making any reference to the officer's mental health records, reasoning that because excessive force claims are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment's "objective reasonableness" standard, the officer's subjective state of mind was irrelevant to whether his use of force was objectively reasonable under the circumstances. Plaintiff, however, never sought to use the records to challenge the officer's subjective motivation in firing on him. Instead, plaintiff sought to use the records to challenge the officer's perceptions and his ability to make observations, a classic use of extrinsic evidence to impugn a witness's credibility under N.J.R.E. 607.
We conclude that interpreting the "objective reasonableness" standard for evaluating excessive force claims so expansively as to preclude a cross-examiner from probing whether the officer's psychiatric symptoms affected his ability to accurately perceive the events giving rise to the claim, was error. Because the ruling severely prejudiced plaintiff in his ability to prove his excessive force claim against the officer and gutted his Monell claim against the City, we reverse the verdicts in defendants' favor and remand for a new trial. 

LISA LOMBARDI VS. ANTHONY A. LOMBARDI A-3624-13T1


LISA LOMBARDI VS. ANTHONY A. LOMBARDI
          A-3624-13T1
This appeal required us to address the calculation of alimony where the parties relied on only a fraction of their household income to pay their monthly expenses and regularly saved the balance during the course of their marriage. It is well-established that the accumulation of reasonable savings should be included in alimony to protect the supported spouse against the loss of alimony. See Jacobitti v. Jacobitti, 135 N.J. 571, 582 (1994); Martindell v. Martindell, 21 N.J. 341, 354 (1956); Davis v. Davis, 184 N.J. Super. 430, 437 (App. Div. 1982). In this case, we considered whether the parties' history of regular savings as part of their marital lifestyle requires the inclusion of savings as a component of alimony even when the need to protect the supported spouse does not exist.
The Family Part found that the monthly savings were part of the marital lifestyle, but excluded the amount from its calculation of alimony because savings were not necessary to ensure future payment of alimony. We disagreed with the court's decision and held that regular savings must be considered in a determination of alimony, even when there is no need to create savings to protect the future payment of alimony. 

E & J Equities v. Board of Adjustment of the Township of Franklin (A-40-14


E & J Equities v. Board of Adjustment of the Township
of Franklin (A-40-14; 075207)
A digital billboard, as a form of communication, is
subject to the protections afforded to speech under
the First Amendment to the United States Constitution
and the New Jersey Constitution.  To the extent that a
municipality seeks to restrict billboards, the
regulation must find support in the governmental
interests that the municipality seeks to protect or
advance.  Although the Township relied upon aesthetic
and public safety concerns in banning digital
billboards, while permitting static billboards in
designated zones, the record fails to demonstrate that
the ban furthers the governmental interests that the
Township asserts.  The ordinance ban on digital
billboards is therefore unconstitutional.

Monday, September 12, 2016

LISA LOMBARDI VS. ANTHONY A. LOMBARDI A-3624-13T1


LISA LOMBARDI VS. ANTHONY A. LOMBARDI
          A-3624-13T1
This appeal required us to address the calculation of alimony where the parties relied on only a fraction of their household income to pay their monthly expenses and regularly saved the balance during the course of their marriage. It is well-established that the accumulation of reasonable savings should be included in alimony to protect the supported spouse against the loss of alimony. See Jacobitti v. Jacobitti, 135 N.J. 571, 582 (1994); Martindell v. Martindell, 21 N.J. 341, 354 (1956); Davis v. Davis, 184 N.J. Super. 430, 437 (App. Div. 1982). In this case, we considered whether the parties' history of regular savings as part of their marital lifestyle requires the inclusion of savings as a component of alimony even when the need to protect the supported spouse does not exist.
The Family Part found that the monthly savings were part of the marital lifestyle, but excluded the amount from its calculation of alimony because savings were not necessary to ensure future payment of alimony. We disagreed with the court's decision and held that regular savings must be considered in a determination of alimony, even when there is no need to create savings to protect the future payment of alimony. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

RACHEL KRANZ, ET AL. VS. STEVEN SCHUSS, M.D., ET AL. A-4918-13T1

 RACHEL KRANZ, ET AL. VS. STEVEN SCHUSS, M.D., ET AL. 
A-4918-13T1 
Represented by her mother as guardian ad litem, infant-plaintiff settled a malpractice action brought in New York that alleged her attending New York medical providers failed to timely diagnose her hip dysplasia, resulting in subsequent surgeries and the increased risk of arthritis in her hip. The New York court approved a structured settlement of $2 million. 
Plaintiff commenced suit in New Jersey, against the pediatrician and his practice group who began treating plaintiff after the family moved to New Jersey, when plaintiff was one-year old. Defendants successfully moved in limine for a pro tanto $2 million credit against any judgment entered in favor of plaintiff in the New Jersey action. 

We reversed. Examining the Joint Tortfeasors Contribution Law, and the Comparative Negligence Act, we concluded that even though the settling New York defendants were not, and, because of lack of personal jurisdiction, could not be "parties" to the New Jersey suit, defendants were not entitled to a pro tanto credit. Rather, defendants were only entitled to contribution, i.e., a reduction of any award against them by the amount of fault allocated by the jury to the settling New York defendants.