Sunday, December 31, 2017
THOMAS G. LECHLER VS. 303 SUNSET AVENUE CONDO ASSOC.,
In this premises liability case, we reverse a Law Division order granting a directed verdict to defendants, a condominium association and its property manager, and dismissing with prejudice the negligence claim of plaintiff, a condominium resident. We hold that the association had a statutory duty to maintain the common areas, including a duty to identify and correct dangerous conditions, and that duty extended to residents of the condominium building, regardless of their characterization as licensees or invitees. While the condominium association has a statutory right to adopt a by-law precluding residents from suing the association for negligence, the association did not adopt such a by-law. Because plaintiff's evidence, if credited by the jury, established a prima facie case of negligence, we reverse and remand for a new trial.
JOHN WATSON VS. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his complaint under N.J.S.A. 52:4C-1, the Mistaken Imprisonment Act. Plaintiff was convicted in 1988 of possession of cocaine and weapons. He served five and one half years and was released from prison in 1996. In April 1999, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General issued a report acknowledging the State Police's use of racial profiling on the Turnpike from 1988 to 1999 and in 2000, agreed to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for certain cases.
In November 2011, plaintiff was convicted in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for another narcotics offense and sentenced to thirty years. The federal court used plaintiff's New Jersey convictions to enhance his federal sentence because he qualified as a three-strike "career offender".
On May 2, 2014, the New Jersey court consented to order vacating defendant's 1988 New Jersey conviction because it was subject to inclusion in the aforementioned State Police racial profiling consent order. In light of the vacated conviction, the federal court resentenced plaintiff to a shorter term as he no longer qualified as a "career offender." Plaintiff filed suit under the Act on April 27, 2016.
The trial judge dismissed plaintiff's complaint. The panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint because the plain language of N.J.S.A. 52:4C-4 identifies two triggering events from
which to calculate the two-year statute of limitations: release from imprisonment or a pardon. Because plaintiff's complaint was filed beyond the two years after his release from prison in New Jersey and the vacatur of his conviction was not a pardon, his complaint was not timely filed.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
NANCY JACOBS VS. JERSEY CENTRAL POWER & LIGHT COMPANY
After a streetlight fell on the corner of plaintiff's property, an employee of the defendant electric company disconnected the power, removed the light pole, pushed the wires into a hole in the ground, and covered the hole with dirt. He placed over the hole an orange safety cone, which disappeared within a few days. White markings painted by the hole faded in the ensuing weeks.
Nearly two months later, plaintiff inadvertently stepped into the hole and injured herself, resulting in lumbar and knee surgeries. She brought a negligence case against the utility for creating and failing to timely repair a dangerous condition. A jury found the utility primarily at fault in causing the accident. It awarded plaintiff damages, which were reduced by her own percentage of fault. The utility appeals and asserts multiple trial errors.
JANET HENEBEMA VS. DOMENICO RADDI, JR.
On remand, and ten years after a serious car accident, defendants raised for the first time the affirmative defenses of N.J.S.A. 52:17C-10 (9-1-1 dispatcher immunity) and N.J.S.A. 59:5-4 (failure to provide police protection). We concluded that the judge erred by (1) failing to resolve whether defendants waived the new defenses; and (2) dismissing the complaint relying on Royster v. N.J. State Police, 439 N.J. Super. 554 (App. Div. 2015), aff'd as modified, 227 N.J. 482 (2017) (dismissing a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act).
EDWARD GRIMES VS. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Appellant, an inmate at the New Jersey State Prison, challenged the final decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC), which reiterated DOC's informal policy (the calling policy) prohibiting inmates from making phone calls to cell phones and "non-traditional telephone service numbers." He asserted the calling policy violated the United States Constitution and DOC's informal implementation of the calling violated the Administrative Procedures Act, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 to -31 (the APA).
The court concluded DOC's adoption and implementation of the calling policy violated the rulemaking procedures required by the APA. The court recognized the likely disruption that immediate invalidation of the policy would cause, and left the policy in place, pending DOC's commencement of rulemaking without delay.
FWDSL & ASSOCIATES, LP VS. RICHARD BEREZANSKY, ET AL.
Plaintiff, a tax sale certificate holder, appealed an order which permitted a party to intervene in this foreclosure action and redeem based on its having obtained title pursuant to its profit-sharing agreement with the property owners. The intervenor agreed to pay the owners $10,000 for clear title and, by way of the profit-sharing agreement, promised to: pay all outstanding property taxes; satisfy a $70,000 judgment against one of the owners; allow the owners free use and occupancy until the property's eventual sale; and consented to a thirty-five/sixty-five split of the net proceeds, with the owners receiving the larger share. Plaintiff argued the consideration received by the owners was illusory or was only nominal because the profit-sharing agreement called for reimbursement to the intervenor of its payment of the taxes, of the $70,000 judgment, and of all repairs made to the premises. In affirming, the court held that the owners received more than nominal consideration – thereby satisfying N.J.S.A. 54:5-89.1's requirements – and rejected plaintiff's contention that Simon v. Cronecker, 189 N.J. 304 (2007) imposed a blanket prohibition on all profit-sharing agreements in this setting.