NEW JERSEY LAWYER

DAILY BRIEFING      07/18/2005


News Briefs

AOC ORDERS RE-SENTENCINGS IN EIGHT MUNICIPAL COURTS
In the latest saga for Henry G. Broome Jr., the Northfield solo suspected of overly zealous sentencing in his part-time role as a municipal judge, the Administrative Office of the Courts has ordered the eight municipal courts where he sits to re-sentence 10 people to determine if they’re entitled to refunds. At issue, according to the Press of Atlantic City, is why Broome imposed sentences that exceeded a state judiciary directive on penalties for underage defendants convicted of drunken driving. One lawyer complained Broome fined a client $731 when all that was required was court fees. Broome has tried to “make an impression on teens” about the dangers of drinking and driving, according to his lawyer, Michael A. Ferrara Jr. of Cherry Hill. 7-15-05

LIFE IN NEW JERSEY — CARELESS DRIVING, A LAWYER’S CURSE AND A SUIT
Anthony N. Iannarelli Jr., a Ridgewood lawyer, was driving along Russell Avenue in Wyckoff when he allegedly saw a motorist driving carelessly, topped off by an unlawful U-turn. Fortunately, there was no accident. But in time-honored New Jersey fashion, Iannarelli did call out “asshole.” A short time later, he was sirened to a halt by the same vehicle — an unmarked police car. Soon, marked police vehicles converged around him. He was ticketed for “following too closely.” Was it retaliation? Iannarelli thinks so and has retaliated in his own way — suing the township and the officer in federal court for violating his civil rights. 7-15-05

PUBLIC DEFENDER DISBARRED FOR CHARGING CLIENTS
The state Supreme Court has disbarred former East Brunswick Public Defender Hanit Dorwani for soliciting money from clients he was assigned to represent. The attorney, also known as H. Joseph Dorwani, carried out the misdeeds between 2001 and 2003. The Office of Attorney Ethics initiated its investigation in 2003. 7-15-05

PUBLIC VERY WARY OF JUSTICE SYSTEM
Polls showing the public disenchanted with the legal system has become a predictable drumbeat, with lawyers often countering by noting people are quick to badmouth lawyers until they need one. The latest survey found 54 percent of Americans don’t trust the legal system and only 16 percent are confident it could defend them against baseless claims. That survey was sponsored by Common Good, a Washington-based legal reform advocacy group whose members include former Gov. Thomas H. Kean and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley. Conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey further found 83 percent of respondents think the system makes it “too easy to make invalid claims”; 67 percent strongly agree there’s a growing tendency for people to threaten legal action when something goes awryl and 56 percent think the system needs fundamental change. 7-15-05

THIS WAS NO UNDERCOVER ARREST
Maybe if the background music had included “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” she would have gotten away with shoplifting. Belgium police had plenty of reason to be suspicious when they approached and arrested the 24-year-old woman outside a store in Antwerp where the temperature was a sweltering 86 degrees, and she was wearing her pilfered goods: a jogging suit, a sweater, four polo shirts, three T-shirts, four sleeveless tops and a pair of shorts. 7-15-05



Today's Decision Summaries

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FROM THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT, FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2005
NO OPINIONS WERE RELEASED BY THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT ON FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2005, AND NO OPINIONS ARE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE ON MONDAY, JULY 18, 2005.


APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
PUBLIC CONTRACTS
WILLIAMS SCOTSMAN, INC. v. GARFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION
Appellate Division, A-4989-03T2, approved for publication July 15, 2005. (17 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92582

Based on the assurances made by the defendant Board of Education to the plaintiff builder, the builder was entitled to invoke the doctrine of equitable estoppel to preclude the Board from asserting that the parties’ contract was void for failure to meet the requirements of the public bidding statute.

SENTENCING
STATE v. CRAWFORD
Appellate Division, A-1890-03T4, approved for publication July 15, 2005. (13 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92583

The order requiring the defendant to submit a DNA sample for testing was reversed because the defendant was not legally “serving a sentence of imprisonment, probation, parole or other form of supervision” when N.J.S.A. 53:1-20.20(g) of the DNA Database and Databank Act of 1994 became effective.

NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
INSURANCE
OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE CO. OF NEW JERSEY v. GARZON-CARDENAS
Appellate Division, A-6234-03T3, July 15, 2005, not approved for publication. (10 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18241

Denial of the plaintiff insurer’s motion to stay all pending or future personal injury protection benefits arbitration claims by any defendant until its declaratory judgment action — which sought a declaration that the policy covering the vehicle involved in the accident was void ab initio due to fraud by the vehicle’s owner and operator — was resolved reversed and remanded; because the insurer’s fraud claims were not disputes that arose under chapter 6A of Title 39, these claims could be heard only in the Law Division; by necessity, the rescission of the insurer’s policy was the first issue that must be decided because, if the policy was void ab initio, there may be no entitlement to benefits and arbitration of a claim by one of the passengers therefore would be premature.

NEGLIGENCE
PATE v. BUFFIN
Appellate Division, A-177-04T5, July 15, 2005, not approved for publication. (3 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18240

Summary judgment for the defendant in a negligent entrustment action affirmed; the plaintiff was in a one-car accident while driving a vehicle that was under the care and custody of the defendant; at a party in a private home before the accident, the “visibly intoxicated” plaintiff picked up the car keys in front of the defendant and drove off with his “tacit approval”; the plaintiff pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, with a civil reservation under Rule 7:6-2(a)(1); the trial court applied N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5b, which bars a driver convicted of DWI from suing for pain and suffering; the negligent entrustment action was covered by the statute’s injunction because the plaintiff was not under the legal drinking age and because the defendant was not her host; the civil reservation did not preclude the defendant from raising the DWI conviction.

LAW AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
VALENTI v. BORIS PLACE
Appellate Division, A-5613-03T3, July 15, 2005, not approved for publication. (6 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18242

Denial of the motion for judgment n.o.v. or a new trial by the defendant go-go bar and the defendant owner following a jury verdict of $20,000 for the plaintiff bartender on her Law Against Discrimination claims of a hostile work environment and sexual harassment affirmed; the bartender asserted that the owner made “overtures of a sexual nature” and touched her inappropriately on three occasions and that he told her to report to work wearing a skirt but “no panties” and “no bra” at a time when he would be at the bar alone as a condition of further employment; the bartender did not return to work; the owner denied that he had ever touched the bartender or made improper remarks to her, but the jury resolved the credibility issues in the bartender’s favor; there was “no sound basis” to overrule the trial court’s decision not to disturb the jury verdict.

CIVIL PROCEDURE
JOHNSON v. PATERSON HOUSING AUTHORITY
Appellate Division, A-2105-04T5, July 14, 2005, not approved for publication. (11 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18238

Dismissal on timeliness grounds of the plaintiff tenant’s complaint in lieu of prerogative writs against the defendant housing authority reversed and remanded; a housing authority policy required tenants to sweep, mop, and wax part of the common hallways twice per month; seven fines imposed on the plaintiff for violating the policy were upheld at an administrative hearing on April 5, 2004; after unsuccessful attempts to settle the matter, the plaintiff filed her complaint on August 27, 2004; although the complaint was filed “well beyond” the 45-day time limit of Rule 4:69-6(a) when measured from the hearing date, the interests of justice compelled an enlargement of the time limit under Brunetti v. Borough of New Milford.

NEGLIGENCE
KANE v. POREE
Appellate Division, A-5935-02T5, July 14, 2005, not approved for publication. (14 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18236

Judgment for the plaintiff driver in an automobile negligence action affirmed as to damages and the defendant truck driver’s liability but reversed and remanded for trial as to the plaintiff’s liability and the apportionment of liability between the plaintiff and the truck driver; the jury awarded the plaintiff $40,000 for pain and suffering, disability, and impairment and loss of enjoyment of life, and the judgment reflected the jury’s finding that the truck driver and the plaintiff were each 50 percent liable; remand was required because the reconstruction of the record that the Appellate Division had previously ordered was inadequate for it make a reasoned decision about the plaintiff’s liability; contrary to the plaintiff’s arguments on appeal, the trial court did not err by declining to separate the issues of negligence and proximate cause into two jury questions on the verdict form or by not instructing the jury that the violation of two traffic laws was evidence of the truck driver’s negligence.

PARTNERSHIPS
FORD v. VAUSS
Appellate Division, A-4841-03T5, July 14, 2005, not approved for publication. (17 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18237

Judgment of $13,297 for the plaintiff on his claims for breach of contract and failure to provide an accounting reversed and remanded for judgment for the defendant; the plaintiff agreed to purchase one-half of the defendant’s deli for $16,500, which the plaintiff paid; shortly after both parties bought supplies, the plaintiff discontinued his role in operating the deli and asked for his money back; the trial court concluded that the plaintiff was a “passive partner, akin to an investor” and awarded him the amount of his investment minus expenses; however, the trial court (1) ignored the fact that all of the witnesses, including both parties, considered the arrangement a partnership and (2) placed “undue reliance” on Sons of Thunder, Inc. v. Borden, Inc.; the parties’ contract was valid, and it created a partnership; the plaintiff was not entitled to relief because he was contractually required to share in all losses and because the deli had failed before he tried to dissociate himself from the partnership.


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