The court holds that a career service employee who is disciplined by an appointing authority for violating the New Jersey State Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace (State Policy), N.J.A.C. 4A:7-3.1, may not appeal directly to the Civil Service Commission (Commission), but instead must first appeal either in a departmental hearing or, if applicable, in accordance with the procedure in a collective negotiations agreement. The court interprets the plain language of N.J.A.C. 4A:7-3.2(n) and N.J.A.C. 4A:7-3.2(n)(3) to permit a direct appeal to the Commission from a finding an employee violated the State Policy only where no discipline is imposed.
For the first time in this appeal, the biological mother of a five-year-old child argues the judgment of guardianship, which terminated her parental rights, must be vacated and the case remanded for a new trial because the resource parent, with whom the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) placed the child, worked as a domestic violence liaison in the district office that was responsible to investigate and manage this case from its inception. At oral argument, this court requested supplemental briefs from the parties exclusively on this issue.
This court holds the DCPP violated the Conflict of Interest Law, N.J.S.A. 52:13D-12 to -27, and the ethical standards and protocols promulgated by the Department of Children and Families in its Policy Manual when it failed to transfer this case to another regional office based on the resource parent's assignment as a domestic violence liaison. The Division's failure to take timely and effective action to address this material conflict of interest tainted the management of this case from its incepti.
Independent of this ethical transgression, the Family Part judge who presided over this trial did not: (1) make credibility findings regarding the biological mother's testimony, (2) identify which of the two psychologists who testified as expert witnesses he found more persuasive, or (3) incorporate the opinions offered by the experts in his analysis of the four statutory prongs in N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a). This court remands this matter for the judge to conduct a plenary hearing to determine whether reunification with her biological mother is in the child's best interest at this stage of her emotional, psychological, and cognitive development. The judge must assess what psychological and/or emotional harm the child may suffer if she were to be removed from the custody of the resource parent and returned to the physical custody of her biological mother.
Finally, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 52:13D-21(h), this court directs the Appellate Division Clerk's Office to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Ethics Commission Office
In this consolidated appeal, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Maya Van Rossum and Delaware Riverkeeper in one appeal, and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Save Barnegat Bay, Raritan Headwaters Association, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Hackensack Riverkeeper and Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions in the other, challenge the issuance of the Tier A municipal separate storm sewer system permit, claiming that it does not comply with federal and state law. They maintain that the permit does not include effluent limits and monitoring as required by federal law, and that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) inclusion of best management practices rather than effluent limits was a further violation of applicable law. Appellants also argue that the permit requirements are neither "clear, specific, and measurable," nor provide for meaningful review and that the DEP violated federal law by issuing permits without the public's involvement. Acknowledging its deferential standard of review, the court affirms the final agency decision.
Appellants filed for benefits under New Jersey's Medicaid — Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD) program. Both were disabled and lived with other family members; each applicant's total "countable income" was below the federal poverty level (FPL) for a family of their size, but each applicant's individual Social Security Disability benefits exceeded the FPL for a family of one. The Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (the Division) applied N.J.A.C. 10:72-4.4(d)(1), which stated that an applicant was ineligible if his or her "countable income . . . exceed[ed] the poverty income guideline for one person[.]" The Division denied the applications.
The court held that the regulation did not violate the federal Medicaid statute, Title XIX of the Social Security Act, but did violate New Jersey's Medicaid statute, N.J.S.A. 30:4D-1 to -19.5, which defines a "qualified applicant" as, among other things, a disabled individual "whose income does not exceed 100% of the [FPL], adjusted for family size," N.J.S.A. 30:4D-3(i)(11), and defines FPL as "the official poverty level based on family size[.]" N.J.S.A. 30:4D-3(p).
Because the Kinship Legal Guardianship Act, N.J.S.A. 3B:12A-1 to -7, provides a permanent home for children, we affirm the decision of the Commissioner of Education that the children must now go to school where their kinship legal guardian lives. Neither the educational stability law, N.J.S.A. 30:4C-26; N.J.S.A. 18A:7B-12(a)(2), nor the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 to 1482, allows the children to remain enrolled in the school district where their biological mother is located.
Third-party defendants are subject to the contribution claims filed against them by joint tortfeasors, unless there exists a right to a dismissal of the claims against them. Here, Fernandez fails to present a meritorious right to dismissal. Fernandez is therefore an active third-party defendant who must participate at trial.
The judgment of the Appellate Division is affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed in that court’s opinion. The Court declines, however, to adopt the Appellate Division’s view that "the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights." See 458 N.J. Super. at 428.
Before depriving S.T. of the right to control the direction of her case and appointing a guardian to make legal decisions on her behalf, the court was required to conduct a hearing to determine whether she lacked "sufficient capacity to govern [herself] and manage [her] affairs" "by reason of mental illness or intellectual disability." See N.J.S.A. 3B:1-2; N.J.S.A. 3B:12-24; R. 4:86-4. At such a hearing, S.T. had the right to independent counsel. See R. 4:86-4(a)(7). In the absence of a guardianship hearing and a judicial finding by clear and convincing evidence that S.T. lacked the requisite mental capacity to decide how to proceed with her lawsuit, the court had no authority to accept a settlement against S.T.’s wishes.
This case addresses the question of whether a residential landlord’s failure tocomply in all respects with N.J.S.A. 2A:50-70 (a tenant protection measure within the New Jersey Foreclosure Fairness Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:50-69 to -71) precludes the landlord’s right to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent when the tenant’s defense is that the rent has been paid to the former landlord because the tenant was unaware of the existence of the new landlord. The court answered the question in the affirmative.
In this appeal, the court examined whether a child's biological mother, who voluntarily surrendered her parental rights to allow her own mother, the child's maternal grandmother, to adopt the child, had standing as the child's legal sibling, per N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1, to seek visitation rights against a non-relative adoptive mother. The court found the biological mother did not have standing under N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1.
The child was placed with his non-relative adoptive mother following the death of his maternal grandmother. Several years later, a Family Part judge granted the biological mother's request to visit with the child pending his adoption. The visits continued for approximately one year until the child's non-relative adoptive mother adopted the child and stopped the visits. The biological mother filed a complaint to reinstate her visits post-adoption and her complaint was dismissed by another Family Part judge without an evidentiary hearing.
In adhering to the legal precepts expressed in Major v. Maguire, 224 N.J. 1 (2016) and In re D.C., 203 N.J. 545 (2010), the court determined the biological mother lacked standing as a legal sibling and was not entitled to visits under any other legal framework. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Family Part judge's dismissal of her complaint without an evidentiary hearing.
In this appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's denial of class certification to three plaintiffs who asserted claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) of 2003, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 to 1681x, which prohibits retailers who accept credit or debit cards from printing more than the last five digits of the card number or expiration date upon any receipt. The complaint was dismissed as to all three plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction over defendants.
Plaintiff Ellen Baskin is a New Jersey resident who made a purchase at one of defendants' New Jersey stores and plaintiffs Kathleen O'Shea and Sandeep Trisal are New York residents who made purchases at defendants' New York stores.
The court agreed with the trial court that plaintiffs failed to establish that class action was warranted under Rule 4:32-1(b)(3). Specifically, plaintiffs only alleged technical violations of FACTA, and they did not assert they were victims of identity theft, fraud, or other harm. The court determined that individual actions in the small claims section would be a superior means to adjudicate claims of technical violations of FACTA. Thus, the superiority and predominance requirements of Rule 4:32-1(b)(2) were not met.
The court held that the New Jersey courts do not have general jurisdiction over defendants or specific jurisdiction to entertain the claims of the New York plaintiffs. However, the court determined that the trial court erred in dismissing Baskin's complaint because she is a New Jersey resident with an alleged FACTA claim emanating from a transaction at one of defendants' New Jersey stores. Therefore, the court reversed dismissal of Baskin's claims and reinstated the complaint as to her individual claims only.
Barbara J. Boyd (defendant) and her husband William L. Boyd practiced law under the firm name, Boyd & Boyd. They did not have a partnership agreement and were never actually partners in the firm. After defendant left the firm and retired from the practice of law, William L. Boyd continued to practice under the firm name. The firm provided legal services to decedent, Renee M. Barbuto, and her estate later obtained a legal malpractice default judgment against the firm.
The estate claimed defendant was liable for the default judgment under N.J.S.A. 42:1A-20(a) and (b), which define the liability of purported partners under the Uniform Partnership Act (1996), N.J.S.A. 42:1A-1 to -56. At trial on the claim, plaintiff conceded defendant was not an actual partner in the law firm but argued defendant was liable because inclusion of her last name in the law firm's name constituted a representation she was a partner. Following presentation of plaintiff's evidence at trial, the court granted defendant's motion for dismissal. The trial court determined defendant is not liable for the firm's malpractice as a purported partner because plaintiff did not present any evidence decedent relied on a representation that defendant was a partner when decedent employed the firm to provide legal services.
The court affirms the dismissal. The plain language of N.J.S.A. 42:1A-20(a) and (b) imposes liability only where a plaintiff demonstrates reasonable reliance on a representation that the purported partner is a partner. The court rejects plaintiff's contention partnership liability may be imposed based on violations of RPC 7.5(c) and (d), which establish standards for inclusion of deceased and retired partner's names in law firm names, because RPC violations do not give rise to civil causes of action
In a prior appeal, this court reversed and remanded the trial judge's open duration alimony determination directing him to find the marital lifestyle numerically and, if necessary, adjust the life insurance securing the alimony. The trial judge failed to enumerate the marital lifestyle and instead supplemented the supported spouse's current expenses with some expenses incurred during the marriage. The trial judge also decreased the life insurance obligation and calculated the death benefit using the supporting spouse's full social security age as the presumed end date for alimony.
The court reverses and remands the matter again to the trial judge and holds that N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)(4) requires the judge to numerically calculate the marital lifestyle. The court's decision explains the purpose for and the means by which to calculate the marital lifestyle. The court also reverses and remands the life insurance computation and provides a method for calculating the present-day value of the alimony obligation to determine the life insurance death benefit.
In these two consolidated appeals, calendared back-to-back for the purposes of a single opinion, plaintiff appeals the trial court's denial under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 to -13, and the common law right of his access, to the names and addresses on dog license records issued by defendant municipalities. The Law Division determined plaintiff was not entitled to the information because his sole purpose was to solicit dog licensees to install invisible fences at their homes. The court reverses.
The court concludes there is no outright prohibition under OPRA for the access of public records for commercial purposes, Burnett v. Cty. of Bergen, 198 N.J. 408, 435 (2009), and the licensees' names and addresses are public records in which they have no, or an insufficient, expectation of privacy in the information, Brennan v. Bergen Cty. Prosecutor's Office, 233 N.J. 330, 338, 342 (2018). Accordingly, the court need not reach plaintiff's common law argument.
The court addressed whether the unconscionability standard embodied in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(f) of New Jersey's Anti-Eviction Act is preempted by federal regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(f) provides that the unconscionability of a rent increase is a defense in a summary dispossess action to removal for cause based on a tenant's failure to pay rent. Relying on the language in the governing HUD regulations, explicitly preempting the entire field of rent regulation, the court held that N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(f) is preempted by the regulations. As a result, HUD-approved rent increases are not reviewable in summary dispossess proceedings, and the trial judge properly precluded evidence challenging the increase as unconscionable. The court also concluded that if the unit in which the tenant resides is subject to a HUD Section 8 housing assistance payments contract, then the operation, management, and maintenance of that unit, including the approval of rent increases, is governed by HUD's regulatory control irrespective of whether the tenant receives a Section 8 housing subsidy.
The court held that when police file a use of force report (UFR) regarding an officer's interaction with a minor charged as a delinquent, it is available under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 to -13, if redacted to remove the minor's name, as are UFRs filed regarding interactions with adults. Deletion of the minor's name preserves the confidentiality of a juvenile's records of delinquency or family in crisis as guaranteed pursuant to Rule 5:19-2 and N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-60. Redacted UFRs filed regarding police encounters with minors charged as a delinquent are not records "pertaining to juveniles"—they are government records capturing details of police conduct available to the public.
The deemer statute does not incorporate by reference the basic policy’s BI level for insurers, like GEICO, to which the second sentence of N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.4 applies. From the perspective of the insurers’ obligation, the required compulsory insurance liability limits remain $15,000/$30,000. As to the equal protection claim, New Jersey insureds are the ones who have a choice to purchase less than the presumptive minimum BI amount. The obligation of in-state insurers to offer and provide that minimum is the same as the obligation imposed under the deemer statute’s second sentence on authorized insurers writing an out-of-state policy. The equal protection claim therefore falls flat.