STATE COURT CASES

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION — MEDIATION
03-1-1016 Willingboro Mall v. 240/242 Franklin Avenue, Sup. Ct. (Albin, J.) (33 pp.) Plaintiff expressly waived the mediation-communication privilege and disclosed privileged communications. The oral settlement agreement reached by the parties is upheld. Going forward, however, a settlement that is reached at mediation but not reduced to a signed written agreement will not be enforceable. [Decided Aug. 15, 2013.]
CRIMINAL LAW
14-2-0994 State v. Negrete, App. Div. (Grall, J.A.D.) (11 pp.) During deliberations in this murder trial, a juror disclosed information not in evidence to the other jurors while they were discussing candy found on the chest of the victim, whose body was found in a pool of blood on her basement floor. Contrary to the judge’s instruction to him during jury selection, the juror told his fellow jurors that he knew the witness who was the father of the homicide victim’s children. He also told the other jurors that his girlfriend, who knew the children’s aunt, told him that the aunt said one of the children told her she put the candy on her mother. In this circumstance, the court erred in relying on the jurors’ individual expressions of ability to decide the case only on the evidence adduced at trial and the law. The offending juror had demonstrated that he could or would not do that. And the other jurors’ professions of ability to serve as required were immaterial because the errant juror’s disclosures had the capacity to influence their deliberations. [Decided Aug. 13, 2013.]
EDUCATION LAW
16-2-0972 Borough of Seaside Park v. Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, App. Div. (Axelrad, P.J.A.D.) (79 pp.) Plaintiffs Seaside Park, its Board of Education and 13 taxpayers, and defendants Seaside Heights BOE, and Island Heights and its BOE, appeal from the Law Division’s dismissal of their claims seeking dissolution of the Central Regional School District, permission to withdraw from the district, or alteration of the district’s funding formula. The Legislature has established a comprehensive scheme for this relief, including a voter referendum. The referendum on dissolution failed and plaintiffs did not pursue the statutory processes for withdrawal and modification of the tax allocation method for Central Regional. Plaintiffs have not asserted a cognizable constitutional or other claim that would provide legal or equitable basis for judicial intervention and relief. Even if we held plaintiffs exhausted their administrative remedies and are subject to a substantially inequitable tax allocation, they would not be entitled to the extraordinary equitable relief afforded in Petition for Authorization to Conduct a Referendum on Withdrawal of North Haledon School District from the Passaic County Manchester Regional High School District, 181 N.J. 161 (2004). Accordingly, we affirm. [Decided Aug. 12, 2013.] [Digested at page 46.]
FAMILY LAW
20-1-0973 Emma v. Evans, Sup. Ct. (LaVecchia, J.) (37 pp.) In a dispute to rename a child of divorced parents, the party seeking to alter the surname jointly given to the child at birth bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the change is in the child’s best interest. Irrespective of whether the parents were married at the time of the child’s birth, the best-interests-of-the-child test should be applied in a renaming dispute without a presumption in favor of the custodial parent’s decision to change the jointly given surname of the child. [Decided Aug. 12, 2013.] [Digested at page 41.]
20-4-0974 In the Matter of the Minor Children J.E. and J.C., Ch. Div., Family Pt., Atlantic Co. (Mendez, A.J.S.C.) (23 pp.) In this case the court confronts the issue of whether there is a sufficient basis to exercise jurisdiction to make special findings antecedent to an application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), pursuant to 8 U.S.C.A. § 1101(a)(27)(J) and 8 C.F.R. § 204.11, when children already are in a safe placement with petitioner. The court concludes that it can exercise jurisdiction over the minor children J.E. and J.C. even when the children are already in a safe placement with one of the parents, the petitioner. The court grants petitioner custody of her two minor sons, J.E. and J.C. The court also makes the special findings needed for the boys to qualify for SIJS, allowing them to petition the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services for SIJS pursuant to 8 U.S.C.A. § 1101(a)(27)(J) and 8 C.F.R. § 204.11. [Decided April 19, 2013.]
HEALTH LAW
22-2-0989 Guaman v. Velez, App. Div. (Reisner, P.J.A.D.) (68 pp.) The majority opinion held that the state did not violate the federal or state constitutions when it eliminated state-funded Medicare benefits for a group of permanent resident aliens who did not meet the five-year residency requirement set forth in the Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The dissent concluded that the state’s action violated state and federal equal protection guarantees. [Decided Aug. 13, 2013.] [Digested at page 46.]
LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT — ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
25-1-1005 Cole v. Jersey City Medical Center, Sup. Ct. (Cuff, P.J.A.D., temporarily assigned) (28 pp.) Evaluating the totality of the circumstances and applying a fact-sensitive analysis, Liberty’s active participation in the litigation for 21 months before invoking the arbitration provision on the eve of trial constituted a waiver of its right to arbitrate. [Decided Aug. 14, 2013.] [Digested at page 44.]
TAXATION
35-1-0992 Waksal v. Director, Div. of Taxation, Sup. Ct. (Patterson, J.) (26 pp.) In accordance with the plain language of N.J.S.A. 54A:5-1c, the worthless nonbusiness debt at issue is not a “sale, exchange or other disposition of property.” Section 5-1c does not integrate into the act every provision of the Internal Revenue Code governing capital gains and losses, and 26 U.S.C.A. § 166(d)(1)(B) does not constitute a federal “method of accounting” for purposes of this case. [Decided Aug. 13, 2013.] [Digested at page 45.]
FEDERAL COURT CASES

ANTITRUST
59-7-0966 In re Insurance Brokerage Antitrust Litigation, U.S. Dist. Ct. (Cecchi, U.S.D.J.) (38 pp.) Before the court is plaintiffs’ motion for final approval of the proposed settlement agreement and class counsel’s motion for attorney fees, reimbursement of expenses, and service award payments to the named plaintiffs. This matter involves several class actions filed against insurers and insurance brokers alleging industrywide conspiracies, in violation of federal antitrust laws, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and state statutory and common law. Plaintiffs are purchasers of insurance, and defendants are insurers and insurance brokers. Because the named plaintiffs have satisfied all of the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, the court certifies the proposed class for purposes of this settlement and approves the settlement agreement. The court also grants the applications of class counsel for attorney fees, reimbursement of expenses and incentive award payments. [Filed Aug. 1, 2013.]
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
10-8-0952 Drake v. Filko, Third Cir. (Aldisert, U.S.C.J.) (72 pp.) The requirement in New Jersey’s Handgun Permit Law that applicants demonstrate a justifiable need to publicly carry a handgun for self-defense qualifies as a presumptively lawful, longstanding regulation and therefore does not burden conduct within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee. Even if the justifiable-need standard fails to qualify as such a regulation, it withstands intermediate scrutiny and is, therefore, constitutional. [Filed July 31, 2013.]
HEALTH LAW — INSURANCE LAW
22-7-0982 Premier Health Center v. UnitedHealth Group, U.S. Dist. Ct. (Debevoise, S.U.S.D.J.) (45 pp.) This matter arises out of the methods by which defendant UnitedHealth Group monitors and recoups benefit overpayments from health-care providers, and regulates reimbursement of services provided by chiropractors. Plaintiffs filed a class-action complaint against United and several of its subsidiaries, asserting claims for benefits, failure to provide a full and fair review, and equitable relief under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Plaintiffs set forth two proposed classes: the ERISA recoupment class and the ERISA chiropractor class. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted against the named plaintiffs of the ERISA chiropractor class based on lack of standing. Consequently, plaintiffs’ motion to certify the ERISA chiropractor class is denied as moot. Plaintiffs’ motion to certify the ERISA recoupment class is also denied. In addition to the individuating factors regarding United’s overpayment recoupment procedures, that certain class members would be subject to the defense of voluntary payment would make the class more difficult to manage, since the elements of the voluntary payment doctrine vary across states. Moreover, the injunctive relief sought in the form of reinstatement of benefits can only be granted on an individual basis by assessing the merits of each overpayment determination. [Filed Aug. 1, 2013.] [Digested at page 47.]