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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

RICHARD UNDERHILL, ET AL. VS. BOROUGH OF CALDWELL, ET AL. (L-1631-17, ESSEX COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-1800-18T4)

This personal injury case arises from a pedestrian's fall on black ice in a parking lot leased by private owners to the Borough of Caldwell. The injured pedestrian and his wife sued both the Borough and the private owners, alleging negligent failure to maintain the parking lot and the internal driveway connected to it in a safe condition. The written lease between the owners and the Borough expressly delegates to the Borough the responsibility to clear the premises of ice and snow.
The trial court granted the Borough and the property owners summary judgment. Plaintiffs now appeal the ruling solely as to the property owners, arguing they had a non-delegable duty under tort law to keep the premises safe from accumulated ice and snow, or alternatively, that the language of the lease does not delegate that duty with sufficient clarity
We affirm, albeit for a legal reason not articulated by the trial court. Based on the Supreme Court's very recent opinion in Shields v. Ramslee Motors, 240 N.J. 479 (2020), the property owners are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. That is because the lease explicitly delegates to the Borough the exclusive responsibility to remove snow and ice from the premises. The fact that the tenant in this case is a public entity and that it uses the premises for a municipal parking lot does not warrant a different result than in Shields.

CARMELLA C. MINELLI, ET AL. VS. HARRAH'S RESORT ATLANTIC CITY, ET AL. (L-1509-15, MERCER COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-4431-18T1)

Plaintiffs Carmella C. Minelli and her husband Anthony Minelli appeal from the dismissal of their personal injury action against defendants Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, Harrah's Operating Company, Inc., Caesars Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc. based on the two-year statute of limitations, N.J.S.A. 2A:2-14. Because the court concludes that operation of Section 108(c)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code made plaintiffs' claims timely filed, at least as to the debtor, defendant Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, the judgment is reversed.

In the Matter of John F. Russo, Jr. (082636) (D-100-18; 081862)

Based on its review of the extensive record, the Court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that there is cause for removal. Because of Respondent’s multiple, serious acts of misconduct -- in particular, his inappropriate behavior in a matter involving an alleged victim of domestic violence -- the Court orders his removal from office

Monday, May 18, 2020

GURBIR S. GREWAL, ET AL. VS. WILLIAM AND OTHILIA GREDA, ET AL. (L-3414-16, UNION COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-0604-18T2)

In this action, the Attorney General and Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights alleged defendants violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49, by asking a prospective tenant of an apartment if she was a Muslim, refusing to lease the apartment based on the prospective tenant's religion, and making statements concerning the gender of a Division on Civil Rights investigator posing as a prospective tenant. A jury returned a no-cause verdict on plaintiffs' claims. The court reverses and remands for a new trial.
The court determines the trial court erred by allowing cross-examination of the prospective tenant about her religious beliefs and the teachings of the Quran in violation of N.J.R.E. 610 and in derogation of the privilege embodied in N.J.R.E. 512. The court rejects defendants' argument the cross-examination was permissible because the prospective tenant "opened the door" to questions about her religious beliefs and the teachings of the Quran during her direct testimony.
The court also concludes the trial court abused its discretion by allowing cross-examination of the prospective tenant about the alleged use of the term "infidels" by Muslims to refer to individuals that do not practice Islam. The court finds the cross-examination testimony, which defendants relied on to attack the prospective tenant's credibility, inadmissible under N.J.R.E. 608.
The court also finds the trial court did not conduct a proper analysis of the admissibility of the available portions of one of the defendant's recorded interview with a news organization, during which the defendant spoke about his interactions with prospective tenant and his beliefs concerning Muslims. The trial court incorrectly determined the available recorded portions of the interview were inadmissible under the "rule of completeness" without conducting the required analysis for the admissibility of the available portions of the recorded interview under the standard established by the Court in State v. Nantambu, 221 N.J. 390 (2015).

Monday, May 11, 2020

Shipyard Associates, L.P. v. City of Hoboken (082446) (Hudson County & Statewide) (A-83/84/85-

Both ordinances at issue are unquestionably zoning ordinances subject to the limitations of the MLUL, the plain language of which contains no exception for the retroactive application of changes in zoning requirements within two years of the issuance of a final approval. The City therefore cannot apply either ordinance to the Project, because they became effective within two years of the issuance of Shipyard’s final approval. And Shipyard’s period of statutory protection has been tolled.

Linda Cowley v. Virtua Health System (081891) (Camden County & Statewide) (A-47-18

Here, where a patient removed the tube herself and refused replacement, important questions about the procedures, protocols, and duties of a licensed nurse in these circumstances must be explained in order to establish a deviation in the standard of care. In addition, important considerations about patient autonomy complicate the standard-of-care analysis. A jury could not reach a determination as to a nurse’s responsibility under these circumstances without the benefit of expert opinion as to the appropriate balance between patient autonomy and prescribed treatment. An affidavit of merit was therefore required.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF A CHILD BY C.J. (FA-08-0012-17, GLOUCESTER COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)(RECORD IMPOUNDED) (A-2593-17T2)

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF A CHILD BY C.J. (FA-08-0012-17, GLOUCESTER COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)(RECORD IMPOUNDED) (A-2593-17T2)
An attorney has an obligation to inform the court if he or she is not able to handle an assigned matter professionally due to a lack of expertise and inability to obtain sufficient knowledge to appropriately represent the client, and also is unable to retain a substitute attorney knowledgeable in the area. We sua sponte determine that appellate counsel was so ineffective in this contested adoption appeal that the mother was deprived of her right to appellate counsel. In counsel's five-page brief he relied on an inapplicable statute, cited to no cases and failed to mention the lack of a transcript of the judge's decision. We therefore adjourn this appeal to appoint substitute appellate counsel and obtain the transcript.