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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

ALLSTATE NEW JERSEY INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL. VS. GREGORIO LAJARA, ET AL. A-5684-11T4


ALLSTATE NEW JERSEY INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL. VS.
GREGORIO LAJARA, ET AL.
A-5684-11T4
In this interlocutory appeal, we affirm the trial court's order striking a jury demand in a private civil action under the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 17:33A-1 to -30. We previously held that a right to trial by jury does not apply to a civil action under the Act by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance. State v. Sailor, 355 N.J. Super. 315, 323-24 (App. Div. 2001).
We analyze the statute in view of established principles of statutory construction, and reject defendants' argument that the Act impliedly establishes a right to a jury trial. We distinguish Zorba Contractors, Inc. v. Housing Authority of Newark, 362 N.J. Super. 124 (App. Div. 2003), which found an implied jury trial right under the Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to -109. We also conclude that there is no constitutional right to trial by jury under the fraud prevention law because the equitable nature of the statutory right to relief was unknown at common law before adoption of the State Constitutions. 10-09-13