NEW JERSEY LAWYER

DAILY BRIEFING      08/15/2005


News Briefs

MED-MAL INSURANCE PLAN HEARING SET FOR TUESDAY
The Mercer County judge overseeing the winding down of MIIX, the beleaguered medical malpractice insurer, will conduct a hearing Tuesday on the next step in the state’s plan to pay as many claimants as possible. The Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) has asked Judge Neil H. Shuster for the go-ahead to pay claimants who accepted settlement offers made in May. The state has managed the assets of the once-prosperous company since last fall. In its last report to Shuster, DOBI noted MIIX’s funds continue to dwindle, though there will be enough money to cover the settlement offers accepted by claimants. With other claims going to trial, DOBI said, a few multi-million-dollar jury awards could send the company into insolvency. The show-cause hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Mercer County Courthouse. 8-12-05

RUTGERS LAW STILL A BARGAIN, BUT COST GOES UP
With yet another bigger-than-inflation increase, law school tuition at Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark is still far below that of other area schools — in many cases less than half. This coming term, all Rutgers students will pay 8 percent more, but over the years the gap between undergraduate and law school tuitions has widened. Tuition at the Rutgers law schools for the new semester is $16,213, up from $15,012 for 2004-05. Said Dean Rayman Solomon of Rutgers Law-Camden, “We are still relatively a bargain, but we are no longer cheap.” Tuition increases notwithstanding, the number of applicants increases every year, he said, more than doubling during the seven years he’s been dean. At Seton Hall University School of Law, tuition will rise 9 percent from $29,760 to $32,430. For a full story, see the Aug. 15 New Jersey Lawyer. 8-12-05

EDUCATION LAW CENTER GOADS STATE ON SCHOOL FUNDS
Wanting to prod the state into putting up more money for schools sooner rather than later, the Education Law Center (ELC) in Newark has filed a motion in the state Supreme Court to force the Department of Education to seek more funds from the legislature. ELC’s filing comes in the aftermath of the state’s recent discovery that a $6 billion program was insufficient to build schools mandated, in effect, by the Supreme Court’s Abbott v. Burke decisions. While construction on 59 schools in the state’s poorest school districts continues, more than 200 projects have been cancelled. David G. Sciarra, ELC executive director, noted half those projects were stopped at a point where costs nevertheless will continue mounting. “Without additional funding, these long overdue new schools and school renovation projects will remain stalled, increasing their cost and causing harm to students and their communities,” he said. Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey recently made his position on additional money clear: “There will be many more schools built in our state in the future, and it will be up to the next governor and the legislature to find the necessary funding.” 8-12-05

HOW ABOUT DRIVER ‘MALPRACTICE’ INSURANCE?
They do it in Sweden. Drivers can buy insurance against the possibility they’ll be fined for speeding, and apparently Swedish fines are stiff enough to make the program attractive to thousands. For just a bit more than the minimum fine for a single speeding ticket, drivers can buy coverage for up to three speeding fines. This isn’t for pedal-to-the-metal types, though; those driving 20 mph over the speed limit aren’t covered. Drivers also can buy parking-fine insurance. “We believe households are under economic pressure and there is no room in household budgets to pay fines,” said an insurance company spokesman. 8-12-05

MIRROR, MIRROR, WHO’S THE BIGGEST LIBERAL?
New York often is viewed as a bastion of political liberalism, even to the point of making New Jersey’s left look a tad right. Guess what? When it comes to liberalism, there are two cities in the Garden State that have the Big Apple looking a tad conservative, according to a study by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research. The California organization studied 237 cities nationwide with populations of at least 100,000, and rated Newark seventh and Paterson 13th when it comes to leaning largely left. And what about Gotham? New York came in 21st, Jersey City 28th and Elizabeth 55th. The top spot for liberalism was said to be Detroit. On the flip side, Utah’s Provo was seen as the most conservative. 8-12-05



Today's Decision Summaries

To Order Decisions

Now you can order the full text of these decisions directly from the Daily Briefing. Just click on the Facts-on-Call Order Number and the order page will open. And of course you still can order by phone by calling 1-800-670-3370. (A PIN number is required to use the service. If you need a free PIN Number, call 800-310-8678.)

FROM THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT, FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2005
NO OPINIONS WERE RELEASED BY THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2005.

THE SUPREME COURT has announced that it will release an opinion in NEW JERSEYANS FOR A DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM v. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, A-63, on August 15, 2005. The issue on appeal in New Jerseyans addresses whether the fee-enhancement principles of Rendine v. Pantzer apply to a case in which a pro bono attorney who acts without a written contingent-fee agreement and without expecting a fee from his client successfully litigates a public interest matter under a fee-shifting provision.



APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
 
NO OPINIONS APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION WERE RELEASED BY THE APPELLATE DIVISION ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2005.

NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
REAL PROPERTY
THE VARIABLE ANNUITY LIFE INSURANCE CO. v. FAIRFIELD DEVELOPERS, II
Appellate Division, A-2800-03T1, August 12, 2005, not approved for publication. (19 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18365

Order denying the Essex County Improvement Authority’s motion to vacate a default judgment in a foreclosure action affirmed; although Essex County was named as a defendant in the caption, the body of the foreclosure complaint identified the Authority as the owner of the subject property, and the plaintiff mailed the summons and complaint to the Authority; when no responsive pleadings were filed, default was entered against the County and the leaseholder; the trial court properly exercised its discretion to deny the motion because the Authority had timely, actual knowledge of the proceedings “but chose not to participate” in them; also, the motion was untimely because it was filed four years after the entry of judgment and the sheriff’s sale; because the Authority had mortgaged the property, the N.J.S.A. 40:37A-82 exemption from levy and execution did not apply.

CRIMINAL TRIALS
STATE v. NELSON
Appellate Division, A-1729-03T4, August 12, 2005, not approved for publication. (11 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18366

Convictions of first-degree robbery and third-degree theft by unlawful taking affirmed but post-merger sentence to an extended 50-year prison term with a 25-year period of parole ineligibility vacated and remanded; after defense counsel characterized the police officers who testified for the State as biased and untruthful, the prosecutor responded in his closing statement by asserting, among other things, that defense counsel had to “attack those officers, not based on the evidence in this case”; contrary to the defendant’s argument on appeal, the prosecutor’s remarks were proper and did not warrant reversal; the trial court mistakenly exercised its discretion by granting the State’s motion for an extended term because it did not make the “critical finding” under State v. Dunbar that an extended term was “necessary for the protection of the public.”

LANDLORD AND TENANT
NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS, INC. v. NEW JERSEY SPORTS AND EXPOSITION AUTHORITY
Chancery Division, Bergen County, C-105-05, August 5, 2005, not approved for publication. By Escala, P.J. (7 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18362

Request for a preliminary injunction by the plaintiff New York Giants football team to stop construction of the State-funded Xanadu redevelopment project at the Meadowlands Sports Complex denied; the team claimed that the construction of a parking deck for Xanadu interfered with its rights under its lease, and the team and the defendant landlord disputed the lease terms; although the harm to the team arising from construction work that was already completed appeared irreparable and difficult to calculate, the team could be compensated by damages for lost revenue; the relative hardships that the parties would suffer militated in favor of withholding injunctive relief in light of the public interest in funding, planning, and completing the Xanadu project, and the “better approach” favored prompt scheduling of a summary trial.

EDUCATION
BAGAN v. NEW JERSEY STATE INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
Chancery Division, Bergen County, BER-C-109-05, August 5, 2005, not approved for publication. By Escala, P.J. (6 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18363

Determination of the defendant New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association that the plaintiff father’s minor son was ineligible to participate in football at a parochial high school for 30 days after the school’s first football game reversed; the Association determined that the son transferred from Garfield High School “primarily for athletic advantage for football” in violation of an Association rule; the Association’s findings and conclusions generally were supported by the record, but the Chancery Division found the record to be incomplete as to the Association’s consideration of the plaintiff’s assertion that the family was moving or intended to move from Garfield, especially in light of the fact that the family did move after the Association hearing; due to the short time remaining before the start of football season, the Chancery Division assumed jurisdiction to find the plaintiff’s assertion credible, and it concluded that the transfer was not “primarily” for athletic reasons.


To Order Decisions

Now you can order the full text of these decisions directly from the Daily Briefing. Just click on the Facts-on-Call Order Number and the order page will open. And of course you still can order by phone by calling 1-800-670-3370. (A PIN number is required to use the service. If you need a free PIN Number, call 800-310-8678.)


Click this link to unsubscribe to the Daily Briefing email



Copyright © 2005 The New Jersey Lawyer Inc. All rights reserved.