STATE COURT CASES
CONSUMER PROTECTION
09-1-1347 Green v. Morgan Properties, Sup. Ct. (Hoens, J.) (42 pp.) Applying the indulgent standard used to review motions for dismissal under Rule 4:6-2(e), plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to state causes of action against the corporate defendants for consumer fraud and negligence. Plaintiffs have not, however, alleged sufficient facts to support a consumer fraud or negligence claim against the individual defendant. [Decided Sept. 17, 2013.] [Digested at page 44.]
CRIMINAL LAW — DRUNK DRIVING
14-1-1362 State v. O’Driscoll, Sup. Ct. (Rabner, C.J.) (26 pp.) The police officer’s errors in the reading of the standard statement informing defendant of the consequences of refusing to provide a breath sample were not material in light of the statutory purpose to inform motorists and impel compliance. The officer’s misstatements could not have reasonably affected defendant’s choice to refuse to provide a breath sample, and do not require reversal of defendant’s conviction for refusal. [Decided Sept. 18, 2013.] [Digested at page 41.]
INSURANCE LAW
23-1-1332 Potomac Insurance Company of Illinois v. Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company, Sup. Ct. (Patterson, J.) (34 pp.) OneBeacon’s contribution claim was valid because an insurer may assert, against a co-insurer, a claim for defense costs incurred in litigation arising from property damage manifested over a period of several years, during which the policyholder is insured by successive carriers. The release negotiated between Aristone and PMA had no bearing on OneBeacon’s contribution claim against PMA because OneBeacon was not a party to the release. [Decided Sept. 16, 2013.] [Digested at page 44.]
23-2-1317 Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange v. Perez, App. Div. (Hayden, J.A.D.) (17 pp.) An insurance exchange appealed the trial court’s holding that when an automobile insurance policy is declared void from its inception due to a fraudulent application, an innocent injured third party is entitled to the statutory mandatory minimum liability coverage of up to $15,000/$30,000. The majority reaffirmed our holding in New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. v. Varjabedian, 391 N.J. Super. 253 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 192 N.J. 295 (2007), that an insurer cannot rely on the alternative basic policy to avoid providing the statutory mandatory minimum coverage. The dissent concluded that where, as here, the policyholder purchased only the basic policy, the $10,000 optional liability coverage is the upper limit of coverage available to innocent third parties. [Decided Sept. 13, 2013.] [Digested at page 45.]
LEGAL PROFESSION
04-1-1375 In the Matter of Advisory Letter No. 3-11 and Opinion No. 12-08 of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Extrajudicial Activities, Sup. Ct. (per curiam) (33 pp.) The judge’s acting and comedy career is incompatible with the Code of Judicial Conduct and therefore he may not serve as a municipal court judge while continuing with that career. [Decided Sept. 19, 2013.]
TORTS — DEFAMATION
36-2-1378 NuWave Investment Corporation v. Hyman Beck & Company, App. Div. (Messano, P.J.A.D.) (38 pp.) In this libel case, the jury awarded presumed damages to plaintiff NuWave Investment Corp., and two of its principals, Buckner and Ryan, in excess of $1 million in total. The jury also awarded NuWave $1.4 million in “actual” damages, rejected any award of actual damages to the two principals, and awarded NuWave $250,000 in punitive damages. We affirmed the jury verdict on liability, but remanded the matter for a new trial on damages. We concluded that in light of the Supreme Court’s recent opinion, W.J.A. v. D.A., 210 N.J. 229 (2012), a jury may award nominal presumed damages in a libel case, but it may not make an award of both “actual” damages and presumed damages. An award in excess of $1 million in presumed damages cannot stand. We also concluded that the matter should be remanded for a new trial on damages in light of the Model Jury Charge which is, in some respects, inconsistent with the court’s holding in W.J.A. and its discussion of damages in defamation actions. As a result, we also vacated the punitive damages award. Lastly, we affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint against other defendants based on the one-year statute of limitations applicable to defamation suits, finding that the “discovery rule” has been held to be inapplicable to defamation actions. [Decided Sept. 19, 2013.]
FEDERAL COURT CASES
CIVIL RIGHTS
46-8-1366 Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs Inc. v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Third Cir. (Rakoff, U.S.D.J., sitting by designation) (26 pp., including concurrence by Jordan, U.S.C.J.) In light of the plain meaning of the statute, corroborated by the legislative history, the circuit panel holds that § 926A of Title 18 of the U.S. Code benefits only those who wish to transport firearms in vehicles — and not, therefore, any of the kinds of “transportation” that, by necessity, would be involved should a person like those represented by plaintiff Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs Inc. wish to transport a firearm by foot through an airport terminal or Port Authority site. The association seeks injunctive relief that would permit its nonresident members to travel “unmolested” through Port Authority sites such as airports. Self-evidently, such travel must occur outside a vehicle, and thus will bring the association’s members outside the particular class of persons to whom Congress intended to confer a right under § 926A. Consequently, the association has no federal right to invoke and thus cannot avail itself of § 1983. [Filed Sept. 13, 2013.] [Digested at page 46.]
EDUCATION LAW
16-7-1307 Starego v. New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, U.S. Dist. Ct. (Wolfson, U.S.D.J.) (29 pp.) The court is confronted with the question, at this injunctive-relief stage, whether Anthony Starego, the autistic son of plaintiffs Raymond and Reylene Starego, should receive a waiver to play a fifth year of competitive football at Brick Township High School. Defendants, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the New Jersey Department of Education, and Christopher Cerf, in his representative role as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, denied Anthony a waiver to continue to play competitively for the Brick football team since he is no longer eligible based on the association’s age and eight-semester rules. The association’s initial decision was confirmed by the commissioner. Plaintiffs bring this case under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), challenging the association’s decision. Plaintiffs move to preliminarily enjoin defendants from denying Anthony the right to play competitively on the Brick football team for one more year. The court finds that the association’s denial of a waiver to Anthony to allow him to play competitively on the Brick football team for a fifth year did not violate the ADA. Anthony has received the equal opportunity and access to play football, as he meaningfully participated in Brick’s football program for four consecutive years. [Filed Sept. 9, 2013.]