After a Lull, The Supreme Court Grants Review in Six Cases

It had been nearly one month, since January 18, 2019, since the Supreme Court last added cases to its docket.  However, the Court has now announced grants of certification in six cases.

In Minsavage v. Board of Trustees, Teachers’ Pension & Annuity Fund, the question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Is appellant entitled to survivor retirement benefits, rather than reimbursement of her husband’s pension contributions, under the circumstances presented?”  The Board of Trustees rejected plaintiff’s request to change the retirement option that her deceased husband had chosen so that she could receive survivor retirement benefits instead of reimbursement of his pension contributions.  A two-judge Appellate Division panel affirmed in an unpublished opinion.

The Court will take up two criminal appeals.  In the first, State v. Carter, the question presented is “Under the circumstances presented, was defendant entitled to suppress the evidence seized by four detectives who exited a vehicle, displayed badges, identified themselves as police, and instructed him to ‘stop’?”  The Law Division denied defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence.  In an unpublished opinion, a two-judge panel of the Appellate Division affirmed that ruling.

The other criminal matter, State in the Interest of A.A., presents this question: “Was the juvenile’s statement to his mother, which was overheard by a police officer before the juvenile was read his Miranda warnings, admissible at trial?”  The Law Division denied the juvenile’s motion to suppress, but the Appellate Division reversed in an opinion reported at 455 N.J. Super. 492 (App. Div. 2018).

In Estate of Van Riper v. Director, Division of Taxation, the question presented is “Was the Estate properly assessed taxes and interest for the entire value– rather than 50%– of a home decedent and her husband (who predeceased her) had owned as tenants by the entirety and which they had transferred to a trust?”  On cross-motions for summary judgment, the Tax Court upheld the tax and interest assessed, and a published opinion of the Appellate Division, 456 N.J. Super. 314 (App. Div. 2018), affirmed.

A civil service matter, Miller v. State-Operated School District of the City of Newark, presents this question: “Did plaintiff’s termination from the position of ‘Confidential Assistant,’ an unclassified title under the Civil Service Act (N.J.S.A. 11A:1-1 to 12-6) violate her tenure rights under N.J.S.A. 18A:17-2?”  The Commissioner of Education dismissed plaintiff’s claim, but a two-judge Appellate Division panel revered in an unpublished opinion.

Last, but not least, is a tort case, Shields v. Ramslee Motors.  The question presented there is “Does a commercial landowner owe a duty of care to its commercial tenant’s invitees to remove snow and ice from the tenant’s property where the commercial lease agreement delegates the duty to maintain and repair the premises to the tenant?”  The Law Division entered summary judgment for the landlord.  The Appellate Division reversed that decision in an unpublished opinion by a three-judge panel.