NEW JERSEY LAWYER

DAILY BRIEFING      03/28/2005


News Briefs

STATE TO MANAGE VOTER REGISTRATION ELECTRONICALLY
There’s an oft-told tale that you could go into Hudson County or some other counties in New Jersey at election time and find votes cast by people buried in cemeteries. Well, that should become a dead issue, if you will, because the state has begun moving toward centrally managing voter registration at the state’s 21 counties. It’s a move that in part will vastly expand detection of fraud and other irregularities. Technology consultants Covansys Corp. of Farmington Hills, Mich., has received a $14.8 million contract from the state to develop an internet-based system that, among other things, will provide electronic capabilities for validating registrations and accessing voter histories, as well as enable counties to share information. Covansys said New Jersey’s system would be operating in December, a month before the deadline under a federal law requiring all states have centralized registration systems. 3-25-05

FOX ROTHSCHILD PARTNER TO BECOME VICE CHAIRMAN
Phillip E. Griffin, a partner at the Lawrenceville office of Fox Rothschild, on April 1 assumes the newly created position of vice chairman of the Philadelphia-based firm. In a major restructuring, Louis Fryman, chairman the past five years, will become chairman emeritus; his former duties will be shared by Griffin and fellow vice chairman Abraham Reich, currently managing partner of the firm’s Philadelphia office. Griffin, a former managing partner of the Lawrenceville office, joined Fox Rothschild when it acquired Katzenbach Gildea & Rudner in 1993. 3-25-05

92,000 EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS
In possible fodder for a class-action on behalf of Hamilton Township residents, a recently surfaced report finds up to 92,000 residents of that Mercer County community were in danger of asbestos exposure from a former W.R. Grace & Co. plant and that the federal Environmental Protection Agency knew about it 15 years before taking action in 2000. A 1985 report by EPA consultant Versar of Virginia found possible exposure by 74 million people nationwide living near plants like the one in Hamilton that processed asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, reports The Times of Trenton. An EPA spokesman told the newspaper the agency continues cleaning the Hamilton site, but added the age of the report makes it difficult to speculate on earlier actions. 3-25-05

REDEVELOPMENT HEATS UP REAL ESTATE LAW
Redevelopment of developed but underutilized or vacant property has fast-emerged as the biggest growth area for real estate law. Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis in Woodbridge will launch a full-fledged redevelopment practice group, joining at least seven other firms with similar practices focused on an upsurge in redevelopment under a state law that allows municipalities to partner with private developers. There are about 1,000 projects statewide, including a $24 million commercial and residential plan announced last week by officials in Irvington. For a full story, see the March 28 New Jersey Lawyer. 3-25-05

MONTVILLE BEATS SUIT BY FORMER COMMITTEEMAN
Montville prevailed against a former township committeeman who sought $1 million in a lawsuit alleging the municipality failed to honor an agreement to sell a tract to his private company. In Kahl v. Montville, Morris County Judge David S. Cramp ruled there was only a non-binding preliminary agreement and not the full agreement alleged by Art Daughtry, owner of Kahl Enterprises in the township, according to defense attorney Richard I. Clark of Laddey Clark & Ryan in Sparta. 3-25-05



Today's Decision Summaries

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FROM THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT, FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2005
NEW JERSEY COURTS WERE CLOSED ON FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2005, AND NO OPINIONS WERE RELEASED.

NO OPINIONS ARE SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED BY THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT ON MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2005.



APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
 
NO OPINIONS APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION WERE RELEASED BY THE APPELLATE DIVISION ON FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2005.

NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
 
NO OPINIONS NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION WERE RELEASED BY THE APPELLATE DIVISION ON FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2005.

THE FOLLOWING OPINIONS NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION HAVE BEEN RELEASED:


CIVIL PROCEDURE
CHALACO v. MUNOZ
Appellate Division, A-5691-02T2, March 24, 2005, not approved for publication. (11 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 17777

Summary judgment for the defendant tavern based on the statute of limitations in a dram shop action affirmed; the plaintiff suffered head trauma that included brain dysfunction on February 20, 1997 when the car in which he was a passenger ran into a parked truck; on June 10, 1998, the plaintiff filed an automobile negligence action against several parties, and he filed an amended complaint adding a dram shop claim against a different tavern on October 12, 2000; both complaints named fictitious defendants, but the first did not allege a dram shop action and the second did not identify the fictitious defendants as dram shops; the second amended complaint naming the defendant was not filed until December 3, 2001; the trial court properly determined that the plaintiff’s brain dysfunction was not “insanity” pursuant to the tolling provision of N.J.S.A. 2A:14-21 and that the late filing was not permitted under fictitious-party practice, the relation-back doctrine, or the discovery rule.

HUSBAND AND WIFE
SHERMAN v. GREITZER
Appellate Division, A-4258-01T2, March 24, 2005, not approved for publication. (16 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 17776

Judgment of divorce affirmed; there was “no dispute” that the prenuptial agreement applied; the defendant ex-husband’s transfer of the marital home to the plaintiff ex-wife during the marriage was made in accordance with the prenuptial agreement’s provision that all of the property acquired by the plaintiff would remain her property, thereby extinguishing the defendant’s claim to it; the agreement for the defendant to transfer the home to the plaintiff in exchange for her forbearance on his purchase of a home in North Carolina and on his living there while she cared for the children in New Jersey constituted a bargain and sale of the marital home and was not a gift; furthermore, (1) the defendant’s refusal to cooperate with discovery and his lack of credibility about his finances justified the Family Part’s abrogation of the Child Support Guidelines and adoption of the parties’ pendente lite agreement, (2) the evidence “more than adequately” supported the Family Part’s decision to remove the defendant from control of the family corporations and trusts, and (3) the Family Part did not err by awarding sole legal and primary physical custody of the parties’ children to the plaintiff.

ESTATES AND TRUSTS
IN RE ESTATE OF PAYNE
Appellate Division, A-3543-03T5, March 24, 2005, not approved for publication. (14 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 17772

Probate Part decision denying the plaintiff beneficiary’s application for a declaration that the Harding Township property devised to him passed free and unencumbered by mortgage debt affirmed; the will included detailed provisions about paying the mortgage on the testator’s property in Maine, which he co-owned as a joint tenant with another beneficiary, but not about paying the mortgage on the Harding Township property; the plaintiff argued that three conversations with the testator and a letter the testator wrote to his attorney established the testator’s probable intent to have his estate pay the mortgage on the Harding Township property, but the Probate Part found that the testator’s will reflected his intent to devise the Harding Township property subject to the mortgage and that the estate was not required to pay the mortgage debt; the Probate Part’s findings and conclusions about the testator’s intent were supported by the record.

LAND USE
WILSON v. CITY OF JERSEY CITY ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
Appellate Division, A-6642-03T1, March 24, 2005, not approved for publication. (16 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 17775

Law Division judgment affirming the defendant Zoning Board’s resolution that recreation areas, including the plaintiff’s rooftop tennis court, are not permissible accessory uses in the one- and two-family housing zone where the plaintiff’s building was located affirmed; contrary to the plaintiff’s argument on appeal, the Law Division properly recognized that the Board’s decision was presumptively valid and subject to reversal only if it was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable; the factual record supported the Board’s determination that a lighted rooftop tennis court was not permissible as an accessory use where the Board found (1) that it was unable to reconcile the adverse effects that the tennis court would have on adjoining premises and (2) that the vast majority of lots in the zone lacked sufficient area to accommodate a tennis court.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
IN RE BIAMONTE-CREA
Appellate Division, A-4641-03T1, March 24, 2005, not approved for publication. (5 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 17773

Final decision of the Merit System Board ordering the respondent County to restore the appellant’s name to the list of eligible candidates for county corrections officer and to appoint her to that position affirmed; after the appellant was disqualified because her body-mass index exceeded Bergen County Police Academy standards, the Medical Examiners Panel determined that she was physically capable of undergoing corrections officer training and performing the job, and the Board agreed; contrary to the respondent’s argument on appeal, the policies of the Police Training Commission do not conflict with the Board’s regulations, which implement the Americans With Disabilities Act and require an individualized evaluation of candidates with potentially disabling conditions to determine whether they can perform the job; the Board’s decision was “amply supported” by the evidence and was consistent with the law.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
IN RE SPENCER
Appellate Division, A-4129-03T3, March 24, 2005, not approved for publication. (7 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 17774

Final decision of the Merit System Board affirming the demotion of the appellant from county corrections sergeant to county corrections officer affirmed; the appellant conceded that he had not complied with the Burlington County Detention Center’s rules and regulations governing the issuance of a firearm to a subordinate officer, but he challenged the severity of his penalty; the appellant was suspended 7 days for incompetence in 1991, was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant for neglect in 2000, and was suspended 20 days for neglect in 2001; because there is no excuse for noncompliance with rules and regulations governing the securing of weapons, and in light of the appellant’s disciplinary record, the Board’s decision was supported by the record and was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.


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