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Thursday, January 15, 2015

GIANNAKOPOULOS VS. MID STATE MALL, ET AL. A-1955-13T2

PANAGIOTI L. GIANNAKOPOULOS VS. MID STATE MALL, ET AL.
          A-1955-13T2
Plaintiff suffered serious injuries, including brain damage and paraplegia, after an automobile turning left out of a mall parking lot collided with his motorcycle. Plaintiff filed a timely complaint against the mall and an untimely complaint against the engineering firm that designed the mall. Construing Rule 1:13-7(a), we find that the trial court erred in reconsidering a prior judge's order reinstating plaintiff's complaint against the mall, which had been administratively dismissed for lack of prosecution. We also find the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the engineering firm.
We conclude that the good cause standard of Rule 1:13-7(a) applies here, rather than the exceptional circumstances standard. We also find that, before departing from the first judge's order tolling the statute of limitations under N.J.S.A. 2A:14-21, the trial court should have held a N.J.R.E. 104 hearing on plaintiff's claim that he was either incapacitated contemporaneously with the accident or became incapacitated shortly thereafter due to the accident.