As the New Term Begins, The Supreme Court Takes up Five New Appeals

Kicking off the new Term, the Supreme Court announced that it has granted review in five new cases. Four of those are civil cases, while one is a criminal matter. The Court granted leave to appeal in three cases and certification in the two others.

Going in docket number order, beginning with A-1-23, the first new matter is Achey v. Cellco Partnership. The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Among other issues, is the arbitration clause unenforceable because provisions in the contract are unconscionable and violative of New Jersey public policy?” In an opinion published at 475 N.J. Super. 446 (App. Div. 2023) and discussed here, the Appellate Division held the arbitration provision unenforceable. The Supreme Court granted Cellco’s petition for certification.

Another case where the Court granted certification, Savage v. Neptune Tp., presents this question: “Is the non-disparagement provision in the parties’ settlement agreement enforceable?” The Appellate Division, in a published opinion that can be found at 472 N.J. Super. 291 (App. Div. 2022), found the provision enforceable but that there had not been a violation of that provision. That decision was discussed here.

The first of the three leave to appeal cases is Maia v. IEW Construction Group, a putative class action. The question presented there is “Do the 2019 amendments to the Wage and Hour Law and the Wage Payment Law, L. 2019, c. 212, apply to this class action lawsuit filed after the effective date of those amendments, but encompassing conduct that occurred before the effective date?” Once again, the Appellate Division issued a published opinion, reported at 475 N.J. Super. 44 (App. Div. 2023). That court held that the amendments applied, reversing a Law Division decision that had granted partial dismissal of the claims of plaintiff and the putative class.

In Pace v. Hamilton Cove, another leave to appeal case, the question presented is “Are class action waivers unenforceable in contracts that do not contain a mandatory arbitration provision?” The Appellate Division’s opinion, reported at 475 N.J. Super. 568 (App. Div. 2023) and discussed here, held the class action waiver unenforceable.

The final new case, also before the Court on leave to appeal, is State v. Yehudiel. This case came directly from the Law Division, and it presents the question “Do the Victim’s Rights Amendment, N.J. Const. art. 1, ¶ 22, and the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, N.J.S.A. 52:4B-36, give a victim the right to file a motion to detain the defendant pending trial?” The Law Division, in an unpublished order, denied the victim’s emergent motion for a detention hearing.