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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

CLAUDIA CASSER VS. TOWNSHIP OF KNOWLTON, ET AL. A-1815-13/2127-14T4 (CONSOLIDATED)

CLAUDIA CASSER VS. TOWNSHIP OF KNOWLTON, ET AL. 
A-1815-13/2127-14T4 (CONSOLIDATED) 

Plaintiff landowner failed to file a timely prerogative writs action challenging variances granted to her by the local planning board. Three years later, she filed a complaint against the board and other defendants, asserting various causes of action - including inverse condemnation, the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, and RICO - seeking relief from certain restrictive conditions on the variances, or money damages. She later sought to amend her complaint to include an in-lieu-of-prerogative writs challenge to the variances. The trial court held that the proposed amendment was untimely under Rule 4:69-6(a), and there was no basis to relax the forty-five day time limit under Rule 4:69-6(c). 
The trial court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. We affirmed. Plaintiff could not circumvent the exhaustion doctrine by waiting until it was too late to file an action in lieu of prerogative writs, and then claiming that exhaustion would be futile because the action was time-barred.