Five New Cases for the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it has granted certification in five more cases.  Those matters run the gamut from criminal cases to tort cases to a long-running consumer class action.

The class action is Little v. Kia Motors America, Inc.   The question presented in that appeal, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “In this class action concerning a front brake system that caused premature wear of the vehicles’ brake pads and rotors, was it error to award each member of the plaintiff class $750 ($6.3 million total) in repair damages?”  The Appellate Division’s published opinion, reported at 455 N.J. Super. 411 (App. Div. 2018), was discussed here.

In Felix v. Richards, the first of the two tort cases, the question presented is “Does N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.4, the Deemer statute, apply to an automobile insurance policy written in Florida for a Florida resident who had an accident in New Jersey, where the Florida policy did not include any bodily injury liability coverage?”  In an unpublished, two-judge opinion, the Appellate Division found the Deemer statute applicable, affirming the Law Division.

The other tort case is G.A.-H. v. K.G.G.  The question presented there is “Is an individual subject to tort liability for purportedly failing to alert a victim or alert authorities that a co-worker has engaged in the sexual abuse of a minor, under the circumstances presented?”  In a published opinion reported at 455 N.J. Super. 294 (App. Div. 2018), discussed here, the Appellate Division found the record insufficient to resolve the issue.  Now the Supreme Court will have its turn.

Turning to the criminal cases, State v. Hyland presents this question “Does the Appellate Division have jurisdiction to consider the State’s appeal from defendant’s sentence to special Drug Court probation, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14?”  In a published opinion reported at 452 N.J. Super. 372 (App. Div. 2017), the Appellate Division ruled that there was no statutory authorization for the State to appeal.  The Supreme Court granted the State’s application for review.

Finally,  the question presented in State v. ATC, the other criminal case, is “In this facial challenge to N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(D), is the statute unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the separation of powers doctrine?  Did the State– through the sentencing record and the Attorney General guidelines– sufficiently explain its use of discretion to permit effective judicial review as required in State v. Vasquez, 129 N.J. 189 (1992), such that A.T.C.’s sentence did not violate the separation of powers doctrine?”  The Appellate Division ruled, in an opinion published at 454 N.J. Super. 235 (App. Div. 2018), that there was no separation of powers problem.