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Thursday, January 15, 2015

L.T. VS. F.M. A-2422-12T1

L.T. VS. F.M.
Plaintiff obtained a final restraining order (FRO) against defendant in the Family Part and subsequently brought an action in the Law Division seeking to recover damages for injuries allegedly inflicted upon her by defendant in the assaults that were the subject of the Family Part proceedings. In this
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appeal, we address the issue of whether defendant was collaterally estopped from arguing in the Law Division action that he did not assault plaintiff. We also consider whether evidence of a prior alleged assault that was not raised in plaintiff's complaint was admissible as habit evidence, and whether plaintiff should have been permitted to introduce the FRO into evidence. Based upon our review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not bar defendant from challenging plaintiff's claims in the Law Division action. We also hold that evidence of the prior alleged assault and the FRO should not have been admitted into evidence. Therefore, we reverse and remand for a new trial.