NEW JERSEY LAWYER

DAILY BRIEFING      08/04/2005


News Briefs

LIKE NATION, NEW JERSEY HIGHWAY FATALITIES DECLINE
With drivers increasingly less likely to have one more for the road, the number of alcohol-related deaths on U.S. highways dropped 2.4 percent in 2004, the second consecutive year of decline. Highway deaths overall dropped 0.6 percent nationwide. In New Jersey, there were 731 highway deaths, two fewer than the previous year, for a 0.3 percent decline. The number of deaths increased in 23 states, led by a 42 percent gain in Vermont and 34.6 percent increase in New Hampshire. 8-3-05

FEDERAL COURTS GO ELECTRONIC FOR SEALED CIVIL DOCUMENTS
Here’s a friendly reminder from the U.S. District Court for New Jersey about a major change in documentation. Effective Sept. 1, the court no longer will accept paper documents for filing under seal in civil cases, instead requiring an electronic format in compliance with Local Civil Rule 5.3. A Notice to Bar from Chief U.S. District Judge John W. Bissell warns noncompliance could result in a waiver of any otherwise valid basis for sealing and may make the documentation publicly available. 8-3-05

N.J. BUSINESSES FOIST HIGHER INSURANCE COSTS ON WORKERS
Don’t feel alone if you or your firm are paying more for health insurance. Half the state’s businesses increased the amount their employees pay for employer-sponsored health insurance because of continued higher coverage costs, according to a survey by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. New Jersey businesses’ cost for health insurance increased an average 13.3 percent the past year compared to a 12.4 percent average for business nationwide, the chamber said. The findings are similar to an earlier study by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. The chamber survey collected data from 130 New Jersey companies and more than 4,300 national employers. 8-3-05

MUNICIPAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, FORMER PROSECUTOR PLEADS TO DWI
As a municipal public defender for Raritan and a former municipal prosecutor for Bridgewater and Raritan, Francis X. Hermes has been on both sides of drunken driving cases — and now he’s personally part of one. The Somerville attorney has lost his driver’s license for seven months, must pay $1,000 in fines and undergo substance abuse evaluation after pleading guilty in Bernards Municipal Court to drunken driving and refusal to take a breath test. Hermes also was convicted of DWI in North Carolina in 1993, but since that occurred more than 10 years ago, his latest conviction is considered a first-time offense. 8-3-05

BUSINESSES MUST GIVE SAME-SEX PARTNERS EQUAL TREATMENT
Answering a question that may someday surface regarding New Jersey’s domestic partnership law, the California Supreme Court has ruled that businesses must grant same-sex partners registered with the state as domestic partners the same privileges as married couples. In Koebke v. Bernardo Heights Country Club, a lesbian member of the club said the facility rejected an application to grant membership to her partner because it is a “family-oriented organization.” The Supreme Court found that under the state’s new domestic partnership law, registered partners must be treated the same as spouses for purposes of the state’s civil rights law. The lone dissenting justice argued the civil rights act protected same-sex partners before and after the domestic partnership law took effect. 8-3-05



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, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2005
THE FOLLOWING OPINION WAS RELEASED BY THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2005:

SEARCH AND SEIZURE
STATE v. KEYES
New Jersey Supreme Court, A-70, August 3, 2005. (25 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92612

Under the totality of the circumstances, the search warrant for the apartment where the defendant was found in possession of narcotics was based on probable cause, even though the police were able to see their confidential informant enter the area around the apartment but were unable to see him enter the apartment itself before he returned with cocaine obtained in a controlled drug buy.

THE SUPREME COURT has announced that it will release an opinion in JOCK v. ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WALL, A-72, on August 4, 2005. The issue on appeal in Jock addresses whether the merger doctrine — which provides that contiguous, nonconforming lots merge into one lot when they are owned by the same person — may be based on a finding of equitable or constructive ownership, even though different persons hold title to the lots.



APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
EMINENT DOMAIN
MOUNT LAUREL TOWNSHIP v. MIPRO HOMES, L.L.C.
Appellate Division, A-6766-02T1 and A-3201-03T1, approved for publication August 2, 2005. (28 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92609

A municipality’s selection of a particular property to condemn for open space in order to slow residential development does not constitute an abuse of the eminent domain power.

PUBLIC RECORDS
PAFF v. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, BOARD OF REVIEW
Appellate Division, A-4540-03T5, approved for publication August 2, 2005. (14 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92610

In upholding the denial of a request for access to documents that related to a certificate of debt that was issued by the Department of Labor, the Government Records Council took too narrow a view of its jurisdiction and authority and took too broad a view of an exemption under N.J.S.A. 43:21-11(g).

NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
INSURANCE
KOLB v. QUINCY MUTUAL INSURANCE CO.
Appellate Division, A-3545-03T2, August 2, 2005, not approved for publication. (10 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18321

Denial of the defendant insurer’s motion to enforce the step-down clause in its business automobile policy reversed and remanded; the defendant issued the policy to a corporation of which the plaintiff driver was the sole shareholder; while driving a vehicle covered under the defendant’s policy, the driver was hit by a vehicle that had $15,000 in liability coverage; the defendant’s policy provided $1 million in underinsured motorist benefits, and the driver also was covered under a personal automobile policy issued by another insurer to his wife that provided $100,000/$300,000 in UIM benefits; reversal and remand was required based on Pinto v. New Jersey Mfrs. Ins. Co. to develop the issue of the driver’s reasonable expectation of coverage where he was named as a driver on the defendant’s application for coverage but not on the defendant’s policy.

REAL PROPERTY
METCALF v. BRAND
Appellate Division, A-1749-04T3, August 2, 2005, not approved for publication. (11 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18320

Judgment for the plaintiff landowner declaring that the “Tennis Court Agreement” executed and recorded by the parties’ predecessors in title in 1991 was terminated and was null and void affirmed; before 1991, a tennis court was built along a common boundary of the parties’ properties; the Tennis Court Agreement gave either predecessor the right to purchase the portion of the tennis court located on the other predecessor’s property, subject to specified conditions; in 2004, the plaintiff filed this action to remove the encumbrance of the Tennis Court Agreement from his title; the trial court properly found that the defendant had not satisfied the terms of a settlement that she had reached with the plaintiff’s immediate predecessor in 1997, that the Tennis Court Agreement therefore was rendered null and void under its own terms, and that neither party had any further obligations under either the Tennis Court Agreement or the 1997 settlement agreement.

HUSBAND AND WIFE
MORAN v. MEYERS
Appellate Division, A-4245-03T5, August 2, 2005, not approved for publication. (20 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18322

Post-divorce-judgment order (1) that expanded the defendant ex-husband’s parenting time with the parties’ 10-year-old daughter, (2) that required the plaintiff ex-wife to contribute toward the daughter’s health insurance, (3) that denied the ex-wife’s application for civil restraints against the ex-husband due to alleged harassment, and (4) that denied the ex-wife’s request for attorney’s fees affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded; the parenting-time decision was reversed and remanded because the trial court did not state its findings or conclusions; contrary to the ex-wife’s arguments on appeal, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allocating the costs of the daughter’s health insurance and unreimbursed medical expenses, the civil restraints issue was not justiciable on her appeal, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying her request for attorney’s fees.


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.