As the Summer Months Begin, the Supreme Court Takes Three More Cases

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would review three more cases.  One of those is before the Court as of right, due to a dissent in the Appellate Division.  In the other two cases, the Court granted certification.

The appeal as of right is in Ferrante v. New Jersey Manufacturers Ins. Group.  The question in that appeal, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, is “Can plaintiff recover underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits from his insurance carrier where he did not notify his UIM carrier of his suit against the tortfeasor, including the existence of a high-low agreement, until after entry of the jury’s verdict?”  The Law Division ruled for the insurer.  In an unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division split 2-1.  The majority, finding “an absence of precedent treating deliberate failure of notice as a dispositive basis to forfeit coverage, or treating such failures as per se intolerably prejudicial to the interests of UIM carriers,” remanded the matter for more consideration of the issue of prejudice, stating that “[t]hese important and complex issues are best reserved for the Supreme Court to address and resolve.”  In dissent, Judge Accurso would have affirmed the result in favor of the insurer.  Now the Supreme Court has taken up the majority’s invitation to review the matter.

In Kean Federation of Teachers v. Morrell, the question presented is “Did the Board comply with the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) obligation to make meeting minutes ‘promptly available’ to the public (N.J.S.A. 10:4-14) when it took ninety-four days and fifty-eight days, respectively, to release the minutes of two meetings; and did the Board violate the OPMA by failing to send notification to all of the employees whose employment status was scheduled to be affected by the action the Board took at its meeting?”  In a published opinion, reported at 448 N.J. Super. 520 (App. Div. 2017), and discussed here, the Appellate Division found that the Board had violated the OPMA.

The final case is State v. Evans, a criminal appeal, where the question presented is “Under the circumstances presented, did the ‘plain feel’ exception to the warrant requirement justify defendant’s strip search?”  The Appellate Division concluded that the “plain feel” exception did not apply.