Recent Decisions of the New Jersey Appellate Courts
from 2017-03-11 to 2017-03-25

Supreme Court Decisions


Docket No.: a-38-15
Decided: 2017-03-20
Caption: State v. Carl J. Garrison
Summary:
FERNANDEZ-VINA, J., writing for a unanimous Court. In this appeal, the Court considers whether the admission into evidence of an uncharged incident strip poker game that took place in another stateonstituted error.

click here to get this case.


Appellate Division PUBLISHED Decisions


Docket No.: a3506-14
Decided: 2017-03-15
Caption: BRIAN SULLIVAN v. THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
Status: published
Summary:
J.A.D. Plaintiff Brian Sullivan, a former at-will employee of defendant Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority), filed a complaint against the Port Authority and individual defendants, alleging retaliation and civil conspiracy in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 to -14. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants and dismissed the complaint with prejudice, finding the Port Authority is not subject to suit under CEPA. We agree, and affirm. Defendants supported their summary judgment motion with a statement of material facts and two certifications with attached documents. Plaintiff did not file a responding statement either admitting or disputing each fact in defendants' statement, nor did he file a responding statement of additional facts, as required by Rule 4:46-2(b). Plaintiff also did not file an affidavit or certification setting forth specific facts showing there was a genuine issue for trial, as required by Rule 4:46-5(a), nor did he provide any deposition transcripts or certified answers to interrogatories. Rather, he improperly relied on the unverified allegations in his complaint, as he does in his merits brief on appeal. See R. 4:46-5(a) (prohibiting an adverse party from relying on the mere allegations of his pleading to oppose summary judgment). Plaintiff's reliance on the bare conclusions in the complaint without support in affidavits was insufficient to defeat defendants' summary judgment motion. U.S. Pipe & Foundry Co. v. Am. Arbitration Ass'n, 67 N.J. Super. 384, 399-400 (App. Div. 1961).

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0945-15
Decided: 2017-03-14
Caption: R.G. v. R.G.
Status: published
Summary:
P.J.A.D. Defendant R.G. appeals from the entry of a final restraining order pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35 (the Act). On appeal, defendant argues the Family Part lacked jurisdiction to enter a final restraining order and maintains the altercation with plaintiff was not domestic violence. We reject defendant's jurisdictional challenge, noting he and plaintiff, R.G., who are brothers, fall within the amended jurisdictional provision of N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d). However, we agree the facts as presented do not constitute conduct sufficient to support the entry of the order. Additionally, we address evidentiary rulings warranting reversal. We recount the facts found in the trial testimony provided by plaintiff and defendant, along with documents admitted into evidence during the final hearing.

click here to get this case.


Appellate Division UNPUBLISHED Decisions


Docket No.: a4482-14
Decided: 2017-03-20
Caption: STATE v. DANA
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Dana T. Tokley appeals from a May 18, 2015 order denying his motion for a new trial, pursuant to Rule 3:20-1, and denying his application for appointed counsel. We affirm for the reasons stated by Judge Frederick J. Schuck in his letter opinion issued with the order. We add these brief comments.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4668-14
Decided: 2017-03-20
Caption: STUART P. SCHLEM, ESQ v. SHPENDI MYRTEZA
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Stuart Schlem appeals from a May 5, 2015, award of counsel fees in the amount of $5471 against defendant Shpendi Myrteza. Based upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4968-15
Decided: 2017-03-20
Caption: IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF K.J. and L.M.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant A.J. appeals from a Family Part order dated June 29, 2016, terminating his parental rights to his two sons: K.J., born in 2012 and L.M., born in 2014. The Law Guardian supports termination. We affirm, substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Therese A. Cunningham in her thorough written opinion issued with the order. The evidence is outlined in detail in the judge's opinion. A summary will suffice here. Defendant, who did not appear at trial, appeals from the termination of his rights to his two sons, aged two and four at the time of trial. The children have been living with the maternal grandparents. The boys' mother gave an identified surrender to her parents, who wish to adopt the children. Defendant was repeatedly violent towards the mother, at least once in the presence of the older son. He was convicted criminally of aggravated assault against her. The mother was involved with illegal drugs.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5097-14
Decided: 2017-03-20
Caption: STATE IN THE INTEREST OF N.C.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM N.C. appeals from the Family Part's March 5, 2015 order of disposition, adjudicating him delinquent for conduct that, if committed by an adult, would constitute first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1), and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a). He also appeals from the June 25, 2015 order that imposed a three-year probationary term, conditioned on N.C.'s residential placement in a sex-specific treatment facility. On appeal, N.C. raises the following points:

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5051-13
Decided: 2017-03-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. KESHAUN D. EARLEY
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM On August 26, 2012, defendant Keshaun D. Earley was arrested and charged with the shooting death of James Jordan. An Atlantic County jury thereafter found defendant guilty of first-degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and (2) (Count One); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (Count Two); and second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b (Count Three). Defendant filed post-trial motions to dismiss the indictment and for a new trial, which the court denied. On May 6, 2014, defendant was sentenced on the murder conviction to a forty-year prison term with an eighty-five-percent parole ineligibility period pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2(a). The court merged Count Two with the murder conviction, and imposed a concurrent seven-year prison term on Count Three.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5134-14
Decided: 2017-03-17
Caption: IMAGING SUBSPECIALISTS OF NORTH JERSEY, L.L.C. v. ADVANTEDGE HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS, INC
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiffs, Imaging Subspecialists of North Jersey, L.L.C., and Wayne Valley Imaging, L.L.C., are affiliated radiology practices offering services at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, and St. Joseph's Ambulatory Imaging Center in Clifton. Dissatisfied with the company then performing their billing and collection services, each plaintiff entered into separate but identical service agreements with defendant Advantedge Healthcare Solutions, Inc., to perform those services, effective January 1, 2011.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4492-14
Decided: 2017-03-16
Caption: DEBRA DILWORTH v. MARIE DISALVATORE
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendants Marie DiSalvatore (Marie) and Municipal Code Inspections, Inc. (MCI) appeal a judgment entered in favor of plaintiffs Debra Dilworth (Debra) and George Jay Dilworth (Jay) after a bench trial.2 We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for proceedings consistent with our opinion.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5058-14
Decided: 2017-03-16
Caption: CITIMORTGAGE, INC v. THOMAS AVELLINO
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this mortgage foreclosure case, defendant Thomas Avellino appeals from the May 29, 2015 order denying his motion to dismiss and the June 2, 2015 entry of final judgment.2 We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5548-14
Decided: 2017-03-16
Caption: RODRICK L. HAMPTON v. JENNIFER P. CASSESE
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Rodrick L. Hampton and defendant Jennifer P. Cassese share legal custody of two minor children. Defendant is the designated parent of primary residence and plaintiff is the parent of alternative residence. This matter concerns the parties' disagreement regarding custody, parenting time, and the high school their older child should attend. Plaintiff appeals from the final July 1, 2015 Family Part order denying his motion to modify the custody order for the two children and to allow him to decide the path of the older child's secondary schooling. The order also awarded defendant counsel fees, after the judge concluded plaintiff's application demonstrated bad faith. On appeal, plaintiff submits several arguments challenging the judge's factual findings and conclusions drawn from established facts. He seeks reversal of the order. Following our review, we affirm in part and reverse in part. I.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5579-14
Decided: 2017-03-16
Caption: IN RE C.F.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Appellant C.F. appeals from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency's (Division) administrative finding that abuse or neglect was "established" against him due to an incident involving his son. Appellant raises a due process argument, challenging the Division's regulations allowing it to find abuse or neglect was "established" without an administrative hearing. Appellant also challenges the substantive basis for the Division's "established" finding. Following our recent decision in New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. V.E., A-0586-15 (App. Div. Feb. 1, 2017),1 we vacate the Division's finding and remand for further proceedings.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5694-13
Decided: 2017-03-16
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. TERRANCE D HARRIS
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Following our remand, defendant Terrance D. Harris appeals from the May 27, 2014 Law Division order again denying his motion to suppress evidence of illicit drugs found in his home during the execution of a search warrant. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5845-13
Decided: 2017-03-16
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. RICHARD NUNEZ
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). The sole issue he raises on appeal is:

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4540-14
Decided: 2017-03-15
Caption: WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A. v. YOLANDA ALBANES
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendants Yolanda and Victor Albanes appeal from the entry of final judgment in this long-running mortgage foreclosure, contending the trial court erred in holding them collaterally estopped from relitigating plaintiff's standing to prosecute the action. Because we find no error in the General Equity judge's decision to apply collateral estoppel in the context of this case, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4720-14
Decided: 2017-03-15
Caption: LUIS CATANHO v. DELTA RANCH, LLC
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Luis Catanho and his wife Barbara Catanho appeal from a May 8, 2015 order, granting an unopposed summary judgment motion filed by defendants Delta Ranch, L.L.C., Carlos Milanes and Alina Milanes.1 We affirm substantially for the reasons stated by Judge James Hely in his oral opinion placed on the record on May 8, 2015. We add the following comments.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4936-14
Decided: 2017-03-15
Caption: DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. T.S.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM The Division of Child Protection and Permanency ("the Division") appeals the Family Part's decision which determined, after a fact-finding hearing, that defendant T.S. had not abused or neglected her minor daughters, one of whom was a passenger in defendant's vehicle while she drove it in an intoxicated condition. In ruling that defendant's conduct did not warrant a finding of abuse or neglect, the trial court substantially relied on Title Nine case law that has since been repudiated by the Supreme Court. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5036-14
Decided: 2017-03-15
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. LAQUAY WILLIAMS
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant, LaQuay Williams, appeals from a May 5, 2015 judgment of conviction after trial for first-degree murder, as well as weapons offenses. We affirm for the reasons that follow.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5790-14
Decided: 2017-03-15
Caption: DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. M.G.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant A.V. appeals from an August 6, 2013 order finding that he abused C.S., the infant daughter of his girlfriend. We affirm because the finding of abuse was supported by substantial, credible evidence and the Family Part judge correctly applied the traditional res ipsa loquitur principles. I.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4430-15
Decided: 2017-03-14
Caption: DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. K.W., Sr
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant K.W., Sr. appeals from a May 31, 2016 Family Part order, terminating his parental rights to his son K.W., Jr., (Keith),1 who was about three-year-old at the time of the guardianship trial. The order also terminated the parental rights of the mother, D.W., who choose not to appeal. Defendant argues the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) did not prove the required statutory factors by clear and convincing evidence. See N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a). The Law Guardian supports the termination. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Joseph L. Foster in his written opinion issued with the order.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4657-15
Decided: 2017-03-14
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. WAYNE TERPSTRA
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM The State appeals from the June 14, 2016 judgment of the Law Division sentencing defendant as a second-time drunk driving offender with respect to the custodial aspect of his sentence even though defendant was previously convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in 1981, 1982, 1988 and 1995. The State contends that defendant's sentence is illegal because his prior DWI convictions mandate the imposition of a 180-day jail term on his 2015 DWI conviction. We agree and reverse.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5339-14
Decided: 2017-03-14
Caption: NEW JERSEY MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION v. ANDRE M. JOHNSON
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Andre M. Johnson appeals from a July 16, 2015 order issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), suspending his driving privileges for an aggregate of 240 days.1 After reviewing the record in light of the applicable law, we remand this matter to the agency to reconsider the issue of laches and to consider, under the unusual circumstances of this case, whether to exercise its discretion to forego administrative prosecution of these very stale charges.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0159-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. S.L.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant S.L.1 appeals from a July 21, 2015 order that awarded custody of her now eight-year-old son, M.A.M.-L. (Martin) to his father, L.M. (Leo). Defendant contends that she was denied due process because the judge and the parties at the dispositional hearing were uncertain as to the appropriate legal standard to be used to determine the issue of custody. After reviewing this argument in light of the record and applicable principles of law, we disagree and affirm. We derive our factual summary from the fact-finding and dispositional hearings. Defendant and Leo lived together from Martin's birth in 2008 until Leo moved out in November 2013. Martin has several disabilities, including a diagnosis of autism.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0881-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: CECILIO DAVILA v. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Inmate Cecilio Davila (Davila) appeals from a September 15, 2015 order by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) upholding an adjudication imposing disciplinary sanctions. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1710-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: ANA MARIA RODRIGUEZ v. HOSSEIN AMERI
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant appeals solely from a November 19, 2015 order denying his motion to vacate a Special Civil Part judgment. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1839-14
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: JOHN PAFF v. BERGEN COUNTY
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM We are asked to determine whether defendants Bergen County and Captain William Edgar, as the custodian of records for the Bergen County Sheriff's Office, improperly responded to a request filed under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 to -13. Plaintiff John Paff requested a log of complaints against corrections officers who have worked in the county jail since January 1, 2012. Defendants responded, providing the log, which was redacted to remove personal identifiers, specifically, the names of complainants and the officers against whom the complaint was made. Plaintiff filed this action asserting defendants' response violated OPRA. In a written opinion, the Law Division judge rejected defendants' arguments the redactions were made pursuant to Attorney General guidelines for internal affairs investigations. The trial judge concluded assertions of confidentiality did not fall within a statutory exemption listed under OPRA, and found the documents were improperly redacted. He ordered disclosure and awarded plaintiff attorney fees and costs. Defendants appeal. We reverse. Plaintiff submitted an OPRA request seeking records regarding internal affairs investigations of corrections officers in the Bergen County Jail. The June 19, 2014 government records request stated:

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1907-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: COLUMBUS CIRCLE NJ LLC v. ISLAND CONSTRUCTION CO., LLC
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Columbus Circle NJ LLC (the LLC) appeals the trial court's December 11, 2015 decision. The court granted defendant Island Construction Co., LLC's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 4:6-2(a) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and to compel arbitration pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-7. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3228-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: WISS & BOUREGY, P.C. v. ANGELO BISCEGLIE
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM This appeal involves a law firm's collection action against a client. In March 2013, plaintiff Wiss & Bouregy, P.C. (W&B) obtained a default judgment against defendant Angelo Bisceglie, an attorney. W&B alleged it properly served Bisceglie with a pre-action notice under Rule 1:20A-6, the court served Bisceglie with W&B's subsequent summons and complaint, and Bisceglie did not respond. In February 2016, Bisceglie sought an order vacating default judgment, contending he had just learned of the judgment and neither the pre-action notice nor the summons and complaint were properly served. He appeals from the trial court's order denying his motion. We reverse and remand for a hearing on the issue of service.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3638-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. ERIC GRIFFIN
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Eric Griffin appeals from a February 24, 2016 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) following an evidentiary hearing. Having considered the briefs, record, and law, we affirm essentially for the reasons explained by Judge Philip E. Haines in his written opinion issued on February 24, 2016. The charges against defendant arose out of the death of his infant son. Responding to a 911 call, police found the unresponsive infant lying on a bed. Police interviewed several family members, including defendant who was supposed to be caring for the child at the time of his death. During defendant's interview, he made several admissions concerning the death of the child.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3766-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. LORRAINE MORGAN
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM The State appeals from a May 3, 2016 Law Division order denying its motion for reconsideration of a March 17, 2016 order admitting defendant Lorraine S. Morgan1 into the Pre-Trial Intervention ("PTI") program over the State's objection. Because there have been a number of important factual and legal developments since the time of the trial court's orders, we remand for further proceedings. In light of our disposition of this appeal, a brief summary of the background of this case will suffice. The State alleges that codefendant Walter Uszenski, along with his daughter, codefendant Jacqueline Halsey, and Morgan worked together to "fraudulently provide Uszenski's grand[child] . . . with educational, travel, and other expenses for which [the child] was not entitled." These expenses were paid with district funds.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4263-14
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. C.M.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendants J.G. (Robert)1 and C.M. (Kate) separately appeal from a July 24, 2014 Family Part order determining, after a fact-finding hearing in an abuse and neglect proceeding, that Robert sexually abused M.D. (Sally) from age nine until age twelve, and that Kate neglected Sally by failing to protect her child from that significant harm. The matters are consolidated for decision. We affirm. At the fact-finding hearing, several Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) caseworkers testified, as did two experts. Contacts with the family began in 2004. On that occasion, the Division was granted care and supervision of Sally and her three younger brothers because of Kate's neglect of her children's educational and medical needs. The litigation was dismissed in 2010. Robert is the father of the youngest boy, and resided with the family during the years Sally claimed she was sexually abused.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4672-15
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. RYAN RHODIE
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Ryan Rhodie appeals from an order entered by the Law Division on April 19, 2016, which denied his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm. A Passaic County grand jury charged defendant, Antoine Aikens, Shirley Morris, and Curtis Morris with the murder of Lamont Brown, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) or (2), and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (count one); felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3), and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (count two); and armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (count three). Thereafter, the co-defendants pled guilty.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4891-14
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF G.M.
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM G.M. appeals from an adjudication of delinquency for conduct which, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crime of third-degree aggravated assault against a teacher, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5)(d), and simple assault, a disorderly persons offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a)(1). We affirm in part and reverse in part.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5470-13
Decided: 2017-03-13
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. STEPHEN MAURRASSE
Status: unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM A victim was robbed at knife-point by two men after responding to a Craigslist advertisement for discounted iPads and iPhones. In separate jury trials, defendants Jeremy Grant and Stephen Maurrasse were convicted of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a), and third-degree possession of a weapon (knife) for unlawful purposes, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d). Grant was sentenced to fifteen years in prison with a period of parole ineligibility as prescribed by the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Maurrasse was sentenced to thirteen years in prison subject to NERA. We address both appeals in this opinion and affirm defendants' convictions and sentences. I.

click here to get this case.


Tax Court Cases
©2005 Rutgers University School of Law - Newark, 123 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102
Rutgers School of Law Rutgers University-Newark Support the Law
Library