Sunday, March 18, 2018
STATE FARM GUARANTY INSURANCE COMPANY VS. HEREFORD
INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.
The court holds that the New Jersey Uniform Arbitration Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-1 to -32, does not require an arbitrator to hold an in-person hearing at a physical location. Thus, unless the parties contract for an in-person arbitration hearing, or they show specialized need for such a hearing, arbitrators can conduct hearings by telephone conference or by other electronic means.
Accordingly, the court affirms an order that denied the application of defendant Hereford Insurance Company to compel an arbitration organization, Arbitration Forums, Inc., to hold an in-person arbitration hearing concerning the reimbursement of personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, ET AL.
VS. E.L. AND K.L.
Finding the pace of the proceedings here to be glacial in comparison to that which the Court found "troubling" in Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. E.D.-O., 223 N.J. 166, 194 (2015), the court concluded that the Department of Children and Families' inexcusable failure to provide complete discovery for a
period of years – a circumstance that delayed the start of an evidentiary hearing about events that occurred more than six years earlier – fully justified an ALJ's dismissal of the Department's abuse and license-removal proceedings against the defendant and warranted the court's conclusion that the Department's reversal
IN THE MATTER OF A.D., W.D., K.D., SA.B., T.B., SE.B., AND M.B.
The court addresses certain legal questions that arise when a case that involves the custody of a child under a Title 9 abuse or neglect FN complaint filed by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency is interrupted by a private custody case initiated by a member of the child’s family. To ensure legal protection for the parents, the court suggests a method of handling FD non-dissolution complaints when they are heard in the midst of FN abuse or neglect litigation. The FD hearing should be incorporated into the FN litigation and attorneys for the parents and children should participate. The court does not reverse here because the mother consented to the result. The court also affirms the finding of educational neglect and the dismissal of the FN litigation despite the objection of the mother.
EMPOWER OUR NEIGHBORHOODS VS. KIMBERLY GUADAGNO, ET AL.
Empower Our Neighborhoods (EON), a community based advocacy group, partially succeeded on an election law claim. They obtained a judgment eliminating the district residency requirements, pursuant to Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, 525 U.S. 182 (1999), for circulators of: recall petitions, petitions nominating independent candidates in general elections, petitions selecting candidates from local parties, and petitions nominating Board of Education members. The court affirmed Judge Mary Jacobson's decision that EON's success was sufficient to merit the award of counsel fees, apportioned among the defendants based on the extent of their responsibility for the constitutional tort.
T.L. AND M.L. VS. JACK GOLDBERG, M.D., ET AL.
In this medical malpractice action, defendant's trial testimony concerning reliance on a medical publication in treating plaintiff was materially different from his denial during discovery of any knowledge of such literature. The court's majority holds defense counsel's failure to discharge his duty of candor to the court and counsel by disclosing the anticipated material change in defendant's testimony resulted in plain error, and the trial court erred by denying plaintiff's motion for a new trial.
The dissent concludes counsel's failure to object to defendant's testimony was part of a deliberate trial strategy, as the publication at issue supported plaintiffs' theory of the case. Considered in the context of the extensive expert testimony presented during a lengthy trial, defendant's testimony about the medical article did not constitute plain error, and the trial court did not err by so holding when it denied plaintiff's motion for a new trial.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
MARIANA A. BAEZ, ETC. VS. JIMMY M. PAULO, M.D., ET AL.
In this medical malpractice case, the trial court ruled the fictitious pleading process under Rule 4:26-4 did not justify plaintiff's addition of three defendant physicians to the lawsuit after the statute of limitations had run. Nevertheless, the court equitably estopped the physicians from obtaining dismissal of the claims against them, finding they had had unduly delayed in moving for such dispositive relief after about a year of costly discovery had occurred.
The panel reverses the trial court's fictitious pleading ruling as to one of the three co-defendants, because decedent's hospital records did not legibly reveal that particular doctor's name and involvement in decedent's care. It was unreasonable to expect plaintiff to have ascertained that particular doctor's identity and negligent conduct until her counsel received a post-suit affidavit from the defense clarifying which doctors had actually been involved in treating decedent.
The panel affirms the trial court's fictitious pleading ruling as to the other two co-defendants. Plaintiff could have reasonably ascertained the respective identities and involvement of those two doctors who took part in decedent's care.
As an important caveat, the panel allows plaintiff's claims to proceed against those two doctors to the extent they may have acted as the decedent's "attending physician." The hospital records misleadingly and erroneously identified a different doctor, who was actually on vacation at the time, as decedent's attending physician.
Lastly, the panel overturns the court's application of principles of equitable estoppel. In the absence of a case management order or court rule prescribing an earlier deadline for filing such a motion, or an express misrepresentation made to plaintiff, defendants did not forfeit their rights to file a limitations-based dismissal motion near the end of the discovery period.
NEW BRUNSWICK MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION VS. CITY OF NEW BRUNSWICK
The court affirms the Public Employment Relations Commission's ruling that the contribution rates included in the Pension and Health Care Benefits Act (Chapter 78) L. 2011, c. 78, N.J.S.A. 52:14-17.28c, which top out at thirty-five percent, do not preempt the provision in the parties' contract requiring eligible retirees to contribute fifty percent of the costs of their health care coverage.