11-2-8731 Sayles v. G&G Hotels Inc., App. Div. (Fisher, P.J.A.D.) (15 pp.) In this appeal, the court reviewed a dispute between defendant G&G Hotels Inc. and defendant Howard Johnson International Inc. triggered when two individuals fell through a third-floor window of G&G’s Atlantic City hotel. G&G and HJI had previously entered into a license agreement, which allowed the former’s use of the latter’s brand name and, also, obligated the former to broadly indemnify the latter. In affirming the summary judgment that obligated G&G to indemnify HJI, the court held that even though a better provision could have been crafted, the provision in question required indemnification for claims “when the active or passive negligence” of HJI is “alleged or proven,” thus distinguishing this case from Ramos v. Browning Ferris Indus. of S. Jersey Inc., 103 N.J. 177 (1986), and its progeny. [Decided Jan. 16, 2013.]
14-1-8707 State v. Sowell, Sup. Ct. (Rabner, C.J.) (27 pp.) The expert’s opinion regarding the exchange of narcotics was improper because it related to a straightforward factual allegation that was not beyond the understanding of the average juror, and because the expert referred to facts not contained in the hypothetical question. Under the plain error standard, however, defendant’s conviction is affirmed based on the overwhelming evidence of his guilt. [Decided Jan. 14, 2013.]
20-2-8717 New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. T.S., App. Div. (Nugent, J.A.D.) (22 pp.) Following a guardianship trial at which DYFS failed to prove a cause of action for terminating defendant’s parental rights, the court ordered that the matter revert to the FN docket and scheduled a permanency hearing before another judge. The FN judge, sua sponte, scheduled and conducted a fact-finding hearing at which he determined by clear and convincing evidence that defendant had abused or neglected his child, even though DYFS had not established defendant’s paternity until nearly a year after the child’s birth, had assumed responsibility for the child’s care and supervision shortly after the child’s birth, and had never relinquished its care and supervision of the child. We reversed, holding that the FN judge improperly applied a clear and convincing standard without first providing proper notice to defendant; and that the evidence presented by DYFS of defendant’s noncompliance with services was not sufficient to establish that defendant abused or neglected the child, who had never been in defendant’s custody. [Decided Jan. 11, 2013.]
35-1-xxxx Prime Accounting Dep’t v. Twp. of Carney’s Point, Sup. Ct. (Patterson, J.) (37 pp.) Bocceli’s misdesignation of the plaintiff did not deprive the Tax Court of subject-matter jurisdiction. The tax appeal complaint was timely, accurately described the property, and put the township and the public on notice that the 2008 assessment for the property was disputed by the taxpayer. The defect in the complaint did not prejudice the township and can be corrected by an amended complaint that relates back to the filing of the original complaint. [Decided Jan. 17, 2013.]
35-5-8339 Target Corp. v. Township of Toms River, Tax Ct. (DeAlmeida, P.J.T.C.) (12 pp.) The court held the landowner’s interest in appeals of tax year 2009 and 2010 assessments on multi-tenant, commercial property predominated over the interest of a single tenant who filed parallel appeals. Although the tenant was responsible for the payment of taxes on the portion of the property it leased, its contractual right to challenge the assessments was not exclusive and the landowner, who was represented by competent counsel, had access to all necessary records, and who secured a settlement significantly reducing the assessments for the relevant tax years, was entitled to control the appeals. The landowner’s motion to intervene in the tenant’s appeals for purpose of seeking dismissal of tenant’s appeals granted. The motion of the second tenant to intervene in the first tenant’s appeals is dismissed as moot. Judgment is entered in accordance with the landowner’s settlement of its appeals. [Decided Nov. 29, 2012.]
36-2-8689 Nielsen v. Wal-Mart Store #2171, App. Div. (Fisher, P.J.A.D.) (19 pp.) The court held that a commercial condominium unit owner owed the employee of an independent contractor a duty of care regarding a hazardous condition outside the boundaries of its unit, notwithstanding that the condominium developer continued to own and had contractually assumed the duty to maintain and repair the area in question. [Decided Jan. 11, 2013.]