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Sunday, January 26, 2020


Plaintiff, John Doe, initiated this tort action in New Jersey against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (hereinafter “Archdiocese defendants”). The Archdiocese defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint raising the defenses of lack of personal jurisdiction, statute of limitations and forum non conveniens. The motion was initially denied and a plenary hearing on the issue of the statute of limitations was scheduled; however, that hearing was adjourned nearly one year as the court permitted an additional period of discovery. The Archdiocese defendants subsequently renewed their prior motion seeking a decision as to whether Pennsylvania or New Jersey law applies. The choice-of-law question raised in the motion is particularly important because under Pennsylvania law, plaintiff’s mental state cannot toll the statute of limitations. After oral argument, the court determined it would not violate the Archdiocese defendants’ due process rights to subject them to in personam long-arm jurisdiction of the courts of New Jersey. Additionally, the court conducted a forum non conveniens analysis, and found New Jersey to be an appropriate forum for this action. The court next must determine if New Jersey’s statute of limitations precludes further adjudication of this claim. A plenary hearing, pursuant to Lopez v. Swyer, 62 N.J. 267 (1973), will be scheduled.


The court affirms a decision by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Board of Review (Board) that disqualified petitioner from unemployment benefits. Petitioner was arrested on multiple charges and incarcerated for fifty-five days. While he was in jail, his employer filled his position. The grand jury did not indict petitioner. He was released from jail and the charges were dismissed. He unsuccessfully filed for unemployment compensation benefits after his release. The court agrees petitioner is disqualified from benefits under the Unemployment Compensation Law, N.J.S.A. 43:21-1 to -24.30. It is consistent with the Act's amendment in 1961 to review petitioner's incarceration as a voluntary separation that is "without good cause attributable to such work . . . ." N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). Because his loss of employment was not related to his work, petitioner was disqualified from benefits.


The court granted leave to appeal to review an order entered in this matrimonial action that denied plaintiff the opportunity to appear at the trial and testify by contemporaneous video transmission from his home in India. Recognizing that the court rules neither authorize nor prohibit such relief, the court identified and described the factors a judge should consider in ruling on the propriety of allowing a witness to testify remotely, and remanded so that plaintiff may provide the trial judge with a more fulsome application for the relief he requested.

Baldwin Shields v. Ramslee Motors (A-53-18; 081969)

Baldwin Shields v. Ramslee Motors  (A-53-18; 081969)
Ramslee Motors’s lease agreement directly addressed responsibility for maintenance of the property, which includes removal of snow and ice. That duty rested solely with Ramslee Motors, whether based on the lease or common law. Ramslee Motors retained complete control over the premises where plaintiff fell and was exclusively responsible for plaintiff’s injuries. The Court declines to hold the landlord responsible for property over which it had relinquished control.

Sunday, January 19, 2020


In this special civil part action, defendant Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority filed an answer but did not plead any affirmative defenses and never moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction prior to trial. Despite SEPTA's waiver of the defense, the trial judge raised it on his own at the trial's outset, and, after hearing brief argument, dismissed the claim against SEPTA for lack of personal jurisdiction.
In reversing the dismissal of the claim against SEPTA and remanding for a trial on the merits, the court concluded that once the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction is waived, a judge is not empowered to resurrect it.


In this case of first impression, the court considers whether a workers' compensation judge can order an employer to reimburse its employee for the employee's use of medical marijuana prescribed for chronic pain following a work-related accident.
Because the court concludes the order does not require M&K to possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana, but only to reimburse petitioner for his purchase of medical marijuana, the court discerns no conflict between the federal Controlled Substance Act, (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 841, which makes it a crime to manufacture, possess or distribute marijuana, and the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 to -29.
Furthermore, M&K's compliance with the order does not establish the specific intent element of an aiding and abetting offense under federal law. The court also concludes M&K is not a private health insurer. Therefore, it is not excluded under the MMA from reimbursing the costs of medical marijuana.
Here, where petitioner has demonstrated the severity and chronic nature of his pain, his attempts to unsuccessfully alleviate the pain with multiple surgeries and medical modalities, and the validated efficacy of the prescribed medical marijuana, the court finds the use of medical marijuana is reasonable and necessary. Finding no legislative or legal barrier to an employer's reimbursement of its employee's expense for medical marijuana in a workers' compensation setting, the court affirms the order.

Bernice Pisack v. B & C Towing, Inc.; Eptisam Pellegrino v. Nick's Towing Service, Inc.; Christopher Walker v. All Points Automotive & Towing, Inc. (081492) (Bergen & Middlesex Counties & Statewide) (A-17/18-18; 081492)

The 2018 legislation amending the Towing Act does not have retroactive effect, and the Court agrees with the Appellate Division’s construction of the pre-2018 Act. The Court affirms the Appellate Division’s thorough and thoughtful decision as to exhaustion of administrative remedies, derivative immunity, and the remand as to the Towing Act and CFA claims, all substantially for the reasons expressed in Judge Gilson’s opinion. The Court separately addresses whether plaintiffs can pursue claims under the TCCWNA and finds that plaintiffs are unable to state a claim under that statute. The Court therefore reverses the judgment of the Appellate Division on that issue but affirms as to all others.

Sunday, January 12, 2020


After the court's affirmance of an abuse/neglect determination, defendant – with new appellate counsel – moved for reconsideration, claiming: (1) the court did not adequately review the record as evidenced by its short, three-paragraph opinion, and (2) the court ought to reopen the record so defendant may now assert arguments that prior appellate counsel was ineffective.
In finding no merit in the first contention, the court rejected defendant's theory that suggested the size of an appellate opinion reflects the time and effort expended by the court in considering the record and the issues. The court found that the second argument presented a novel question as to how a defendant in an abuse/neglect matter should pursue a claim of ineffectiveness of appellate counsel. The court determined that a reconsideration motion in the appellate court is not an inappropriate method but – because Rule 2:6-11(a) provides only a ten-day window for seeking such relief – the appellate ineffectiveness argument could also be pursued by way of a Rule 4:50 application in the trial court. Because the ineffectiveness arguments posed here warranted further factual development, the court remanded the matter to the trial court.

Moshe Meisels v. Fox Rothschild LLP (081534) (Mercer County & Statewide) (A-20/21-18

Moshe Meisels v. Fox Rothschild LLP (081534) (Mercer County & Statewide) (A-20/21-18; 081534)
The firm did not breach any fiduciary duty where the firm was not made aware, nor did it have any basis on which it reasonably should have been aware, of plaintiff or of a claim by plaintiff to the funds. As such, there was no relationship between the firm and plaintiff on which a fiduciary duty was owed. On that issue, the Court affirms the judgment of the Appellate Division. However, defendants cannot be found to have engaged in conversion in this matter. Where, as here, a law firm lawfully holds in trust wired funds for its client’s real estate transaction, which funds are received with no limiting direction or instruction and for which the firm receives no demand from the non-client, the firm’s disposition of the trust funds in accordance with the client’s instructions does not give rise to a claim for conversion. The Court rejects the reasoning that under these circumstances the obligation to make a demand is excused and reverses as to the conversion claim.

Sunday, January 5, 2020


This appeal stems from a pregnancy discrimination suit brought by a female police officer against her employer. Plaintiff contends the employer violated the New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ("PWFA"), a statute that has yet to be construed in a published opinion.
The PWFA amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, effective January 2014, to explicitly prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination in employment and in other contexts. Among other things, the PWFA obligates employers, subject to an "undue hardship" exception, to provide "reasonable accommodations" in the workplace to pregnant women upon their request, and to not "penalize" such women because of their pregnant status. N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(s).
When plaintiff found out she was pregnant, she told her supervisors her doctor recommended she be taken off patrol. She asked to be transferred to a light-duty or less strenuous position within the Police Department. Plaintiff was consequently assigned to non-patrol duty, pursuant to the Department's maternity assignment policy. That policy allows pregnant officers to work a maternity assignment, but on the condition that the officer use up all of her accumulated paid leave time (e.g., vacation, personal, and holiday time) before going on the changed assignment. The maternity assignment policy differs from the Department's policy providing light-duty assignments for nonpregnant injured officers, because only the latter policy gives the Police Chief the authority to waive the loss-of-leave-time condition.
This court vacates the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The Department's maternity assignment policy, as written, unlawfully discriminates against pregnant employees as compared to nonpregnant employees who can seek and obtain a waiver of the loss-of-leave-time condition. Such nonequal treatment violates the PWFA. The court upholds plaintiff's facial challenge to the policy and directs the trial court to grant her requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, leaving other remedial issues to be decided below.
The court vacates summary judgment in the employer's favor with respect to reasonable accommodation issues. There are genuine issues of material fact for a jury to resolve as to the reasonableness of the loss-of-leave-time condition and whether that condition is so harsh as to comprise an impermissible "penalty." The jury also must evaluate the employer's assertions of undue hardship and plaintiff's claims for monetary damages.