James v. Ruiz, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2015).  This opinion by Judge Sabatino is like the law school evidence class that some of us wish we had taken.  In the context of an automobile accident verbal threshold trial, where the issue was whether plaintiff had sustained a permanent injury, the panel discussed a number of Rules of Evidence regarding hearsay, along with Evidence Rule 703 and 808, which implicate opinion evidence, facts, or data that are based on hearsay.  The decision also touched on Evidence Rule 403, which authorizes the exclusion of evidence that is more prejudicial than probative. read more

McMaster v. Eastern Armored Services, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (3d Cir. 2015).  Plaintiff Ashley McMaster was a driver and/or guard (some days she drove, and other days she rode as a passenger to provide security) employed by defendant (“Eastern”), an armored courier company.  Plaintiff spent 51% of her total days working on vehicles that were rated heavier than 10,000 pounds and the other 49% of her days working on vehicles rated lighter than 10,000 pounds.  Paid by the hour, McMaster often worked over 40 hours per week, but she was not paid overtime for any hours.  read more

62-64 Main Street, LLC v. Hackensack Mayor & Council, ___ N.J. ___ (2015).  The Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 to -73, defines when an area is blighted and in need of redevelopment.  The Redevelopment Law implements Article VIII, section 3, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, known as the Blighted Areas Clause, which states that “redevelopment of blighted areas” is a “public purpose” for which private property may be taken by the government, provided that just compensation is paid to the property owner under Article I, paragraph 20.  read more

Cottillion v. United Refining Co., ___ F.3d ___ (3d Cir. 2015).  This opinion by Judge Ambro, issued today, affirmed a summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs and a class in an Employment Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) case.  This post, however, focuses not on the merits or the intricacies of ERISA that Judge Ambro ably expounded, but on a single emphasized word in a parenthetical that appears on the final page of his opinion.  That parenthetical notes that defendant had filed “six 28(j) letters” (emphasis by Judge Ambro). read more

At his CA3Blog today, Matthew Stiegler has this detailed analysis of the eighteen en banc decisions that the Third Circuit has issued since Chief Judge McKee became Chief Judge in 2010.  The blog post breaks down the judges’ votes in those cases, places the judges on an ideological spectrum from most liberal to most conservative (our New Jersey judges can be found in various different places on that spectrum), and offers some tips for those seeking en banc review in the Third Circuit, which is rarely granted, as the blog post notes.  Check it out. read more

Parker v. Poole, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2015).  Appellate decisions that explicate rules of evidence are not frequent.  Today’s opinion in this case, written by Judge Hoffman, is such an instance.  read more

Wacker-Ciocco v. Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2015).  In Procopio v. Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., 433 N.J. Super. 377 (App. Div. 2013), discussed here, the Appellate Division ruled that it was an abuse of discretion for the Law Division to order that discovery on an uninsured motorist (“UIM”) claim and a bad faith claim against the insurer should proceed simultaneously.  Rather, the claims should have been severed.  In today’s opinion, written by Judge Espinosa, the Law Division, in a ruling that predated Procopio, likewise had denied the motion of the defendant insurer (“GEICO”) to sever the two claims.  GEICO had provided some discovery regarding the bad faith claim before it sought severance, and the Law Division relied on that fact in ruling that “the cat [was] out of the bag” and that simultaneous discovery on both issues was appropriate in those circumstances, despite Procopioread more

Townsend v. Pierre, ___ N.J. ___ (2015).  In this opinion, issued yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the Appellate Division.  The Appellate Division’s decision was discussed here.  The Court’s unanimous opinion, written by Justice Patterson, contains an extensive discussion of the “net opinion” principle, which states that experts must “be able to identify the factual bases for their conclusions, explain their methodology, and demonstrate that both the factual bases and the methodology are reliable.”  The Court concluded that the expert opinion here did not rise to that level.  Instead, it was a net opinion that could not be admitted into evidence.  read more