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

Washington v. Perez, ___ N.J. ___ (2014).  Under certain circumstances, a party is entitled to a charge that permits a jury to draw an adverse inference from an opposing party’s failure to call a witness whose testimony would naturally have been expected to be presented were it favorable to the party who might have called that witness.  The two leading cases in this area are State v. Clawans, 38 N.J. 162 (1962), and State v. Hill, 199 N.J. 545 (1999).  Neither of those cases, however, nor any other Supreme Court case, had addressed the question whether an adverse inference charge is proper in a personal injury action where “a party declines to present the testimony of expert witnesses whose opinions have been disclosed in accordance with the discovery rules.”  Defendant had elected not to call two experts who would have testified about the causation of plaintiff’s injuries.  In a unanimous opinion by Justice Patterson, the Court concluded that such an inference was not appropriate. read more

Grandalski v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (3d Cir. 2014).  Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in which they alleged that defendant, a company that performs medical lab tests, had overbilled patients in violation of state consumer protection laws.  The District Court denied class certification and also granted a motion for summary judgment against one plaintiff on her claim under a New York consumer protection statute, New York General Business Law §349.  Plaintiffs appealed, but the Third Circuit affirmed on all issues in an opinion by Judge Rendell. read more

Last night, the Morris County Bar Association presented “New Jersey Appellate Practice:  Tips from the Bench and Bar.”  The program and participants were discussed here.  Roughly 125 people attended, and everyone learned some new things and heard again some familiar things.  A sampling follows. read more