Today’s post is another guest post by Jeffrey A. Shooman, my colleague at Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC. read more

Freidrich v. Davis, ___ F.3d ___ (3d Cir. 2014).  Plaintiff and defendant were both passengers on a plane from Philadelphia to Germany.  Plaintiff alleged that, during the flight, defendant, while waiting in line to use the restroom, fell on her and broke her arm.  She sued defendant, based on diversity jurisdiction, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Plaintiff alleged that she was a citizen of Ohio and that defendant was a citizen of Pennsylvania.  Defendant moved to dismiss, contending that although he was and is a United States citizen, he was no longer a citizen of Pennsylvania but instead was domiciled in Germany.  After discovery on the domicile issue, and a hearing, the District Court ruled that defendant was domiciled in Germany and that, as a result, he was “stateless” and therefore could not be sued under diversity jurisdiction.  Accordingly, the case was dismissed.  Plaintiff appealed, but the Third Circuit affirmed in an opinion by Judge Sloviter.  Since jurisdiciton is an issue of law, the Third Circuit’s standard of review of that issue was plenary, while its review of the District Court’s findings of fact was for clear error only.  read more

Atalese v. U.S. Legal Servs. Grp., L.P., ___ N.J. ___ (2014).  Plaintiff entered into a contract with defendant for debt-adjustment services.  The contract contained an arbitration clause that did not state that plaintiff was waiving the right to sue in court.  Plaintiff sued defendant under the Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., and the Truth in Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 et seq.  Defendant moved to compel arbitration instead, and the Law Division and the Appellate Division both ruled that arbitration was required.  On further appeal, and applying the de novo standard of review to the interpretation of the contract, the Supreme Court today reversed in a unanimous opinion by Justice Albin. read more

Dunkley v. S. Coraluzzo Petroleum Transporters, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2014).  Plaintiff, an African-American oil delivery driver, experienced some uncomfortable interaction with his on-road trainer, Harrington.  Harrington made remarks to him about the Ku Klux Klan, as well as multiple derogatory statements about African-Americans.  When plaintiff did not report for work, the safety director of the defendant employer contacted plaintiff and learned of the problems with Harrington.  As a result of that, defendant arranged for plaintiff to get a different trainer.  Plaintiff never again saw Harrington and did not again experience any adverse race-related conduct.  However, plaintiff felt that his co-workers had ostracized him for complaining about Harrington, and that his fellow employees were shying away from him.  For that and other reasons, plaintiff resigned from his job.  He then sued his employer under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. (“LAD”), for allowing conduct that he alleged amounted to a hostile work environment that led to a constructive discharge.  The Law Division granted summary judgment to the employer.  The Appellate Division affirmed.  Judge Lihotz wrote the panel’s opinion, which applied the de novo standard of review. read more

Princeton South Investors, LLC v. First American Title Ins. Co., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2014).  This opinion by Judge Reisner addressed two issues: “in the context of a title insurance claim, whether a pending but as-yet-undecided tax appeal by a municipality, asserting that a property has been under-assessed, creates a defect in or an encumbrance on the property owner’s title, or renders the title unmarketable; and, based on the policy language, whether the First American policy covered plaintiff’s claim.”  Applying the de novo standard of review, and even while liberally construing the policy in favor of plaintiff, the insured, as required in insurance cases, the panel answered both questions “no” and therefore affirmed the Law Division’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant title insurance company. read more

In re Peter J. Cammarano, III, ___ N.J. ___ (2014).  “An elected official who sells his office– who offers favored treatment to a private developer in exchange for money– betrays a solemn public trust.  This form of corruption is corrosive to our democracy and undermines public confidence in honest government, and its rippling pernicious effects are incalculable.  An attorney who engages in this form of public corruption, forsaking his oath of office and the oath taken when admitted to the bar, should expect that he will be disbarred.”  With these ringing words, Justice Albin, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, ordered the disbarment of Peter Cammarano, III, the former mayor of Hoboken. read more

The Supreme Court denied certification in In re Grant of Charters to Merit Preparatory School and Newark Preparatory Charter School, 435 N.J. Super. 273 (App. Div. 2014).  The Appellate Division’s decision is discussed here.  The case involved the grant of charters to two blended online/bricks-and-mortar charter schools, and the Appellate Division rejected challenges to the issuance of those charters.  [Disclosure:  My partner at Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLCMichael Patunas, and our colleague Jeffrey A. Shooman, were co-counsel for Newark Preparatory Charter School].  The New Jersey Education Association filed a petition for certification that sought review of the Appellate Division’s decision, but the Supreme Court denied that petition, bringing the matter to a close. read more

Irwin I. Kimmelman, who served as an Assemblyman in the 1960′s, as Attorney General of the State of New Jersey in the Kean administration from 1982-86, and as a judge of the Superior Court, died last Friday.  He actually had two separate stints as a judge.  The first, from 1970-76, ended when he returned to private practice.  Reappointed to the bench again in 1989, Judge Kimmelman was promoted to the Appellate Division in 1994.  He remained there until he retired in 2000, though he later served on the Appellate Division as a recall judge as well. read more