At last night’s NJSBA Appellate Practice Committee meeting, it was announced that three judges of the Appellate Division will be retiring shortly.  They are Judges Carroll, Leone, and Manahan.  Each of those judges are some years short of age 70, so that all of these retirements are non-mandatory.  All three of these judges have served ably (I have appeared before two of them and can speak with personal knowledge in that regard), and will be missed. read more

Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Franklin Tp. Bd. of Adj., ___ N.J. ___ (2018).  In a development application under the Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq. (“MLUL”), the law governing the application is determined as of “the date of submission of [the] application for development.”  In Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Franklin Tp. Bd. of Adj., 448 N.J. Super. 583 (App. Div. 2017), discussed here, the Appellate Division ruled that an application need not be “complete” in order to trigger this “time of application [TOA] rule,” but need only include all papers required by ordinance for the relief being sought.  There, the municipality sought to apply an amended zoning ordinance to Dunbar’s application.  Dunbar opposed that, seeking instead application of a prior ordinance.  But Dunbar had not supplied a number of required items before the ordinance was amended.  Accordingly, the Appellate Division’s ruling resulted in a defeat for Dunbar. read more

City Council of the City of Orange v. Edwards, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2018).  Willis Edwards III, the subject of today’s decision by Judge Currier, is a former member of the New Jersey Legislature, a professor who has taught government and public administration, and the holder of a dual master’s degree in finance and business management.  The then Mayor of Orange appointed Edwards as Deputy Business Administrator of the City.  That followed the Mayor’s attempt to appoint Edwards as Business Administrator, an action that the City Council, which was required to approve under the form of government under which Orange is constituted, refused to confirm.  By statute and local ordinance, the Mayor had no power to appoint a deputy; only a department head could do that.  Nonetheless, Edwards remained in the position and drew his pay. read more

Capital One, N.A. v. Peck, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2018).  In the usual foreclosure case, the same entity owns both the note and the related mortgage.  The facts of today’s opinion by Judge Koblitz, however, were that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, a government sponsored enterprise that is colloquially known as “Freddie Mac,” owned the note, while plaintiff, the successor to the lender who made the loan and the servicer of the loan, continued to hold the mortgage.  Defendant argued that plaintiff lacked the right to foreclose since it did not hold the note.  Judge Koblitz agreed that “in these unusual circumstances where one entity owns the note and another the mortgage, both the note and a valid mortgage assignment are required to foreclose,” but applied de novo  review and affirmed summary judgment in favor of plaintiff “in spite of certain irregularities.” read more

Brunt v. Board of Trustees, Police & Firemen’s Retirement System, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2018).  In general, except as specified by statute, court rule, or a contract between parties, New Jersey follows the “American Rule,” under which litigants must bear their own fees and costs.  This decision today by Judge Rose, in a case that was argued before her and Judge Ostrer, and then re-argued before those two judges and Judge Sabatino, is the latest reiteration of that principle. read more

The Supreme Court has announced that it has granted review in three more cases.  Two of them resulted from unpublished Appellate Division rulings in cases where police officers are the plaintiffs, and the third is from a published opinion in a criminal case. read more

Pisack v. B&C Towing, Inc., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2018).  This decision by Judge Gilson today in three consolidated appeals implicates the Predatory Towing Prevention Act, N.J.S.A. 56:13-7 et seq. (“Towing Act”), the Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq. (“CFA”), the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 et seq. (“TCCWNA”), and even the Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 et seq. (“TCA”).  Thus, there is a lot that can be learned from this opinion. read more

Bowser v. Board of Trustees, Police and Firemens Retirement System, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2018); Mattia v. Board of Trustees, Police and Firemens Retirement System, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2018).  These two opinions, issued today by the same panel (though written by two different judges on that panel) illustrate that factual distinctions matter.  On the surface, the cases were similar: in each one, a corrections officer slipped and fell on ice in or on the way to the parking lot of his or her employer.  Each applied for accidental disability retirement benefits.  One plaintiff succeeded while the other did not. read more