An Assortment of New Cases Get Supreme Court Review

The Supreme Court announced that it has granted review in four more cases. Three of them involve grants of certification. In the fourth appeal, the Court accepted a certified question as posed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The certified question case is Bank Leumi USA v. Kloss. The question certified by the Third Circuit and accepted by the Supreme Court is “When a party filed, in lieu of an answer, a motion to dismiss under Rule 4:6-2(e) for failure to state a claim, and the court dismissed with prejudice, is that party subject to claim preclusion when—in a later suit that it files arising from the same transactional facts—the defendant asserts the entire controversy doctrine as an affirmative defense?” Defendant prevailed in the District Court. (The Third Circuit mistakenly addressed the request for certification to “the Honorable Judges [instead of “Justices”] of the New Jersey Supreme Court,” but that did not affect the Court’s decision to accept the question.)

In Branch v. Cream-O-Land Dairy, the question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “In this class action alleging a failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, is the good-faith defense, N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a25.2, available to defendant based on determinations made by employees of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development?” In a published opinion, 459 N.J. Super. 529 (App. Div. 2019), a three-judge Appellate Division panel held that the good-faith defense was not available, as summarized here. That ruling reversed a summary judgment that defendant had won at the trial level.

Delaney v. Dickey and Sills Cummis & Gross, PC presents the following question: “Under the circumstances presented, was the arbitration clause in the attorney-client retainer agreement unenforceable because it violated the Rules of Professional Conduct?” An unpublished per curiam opinion by a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division held the arbitration clause unenforceable, reversing an order of the Law Division that had sent the case to arbitration.

Finally, the question presented in State v. Gideon is “Did trial counsel’s deficient performance, namely the failure to investigate a potential alibi defense, prejudice defendant under the second prong of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984)?” After the Law Division denied defendant’s motion for post-conviction relief in this accomplice to homicide case, a three-judge Appellate Division panel, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, reversed that ruling and remanded for a new trial.