In Shelton v. Restaurant.com, Inc., the Supreme Court of New Jersey took the relatively rare step of accepting questions certified to it by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. That occurrence was discussed here. The case was argued before the Court on March 27, 2012. [Disclosure: I am co-counsel for plaintiffs in Shelton, and I argued for plaintiffs in the Supreme Court].
The Court has now advised the parties that it will schedule re-argument in the case. The Court also requested the parties to focus on three particular questions under the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18 (“TCCWNA”), and invited further briefing on those issues if the parties wished to submit them.
Re-argument in the Supreme Court does not occur often these days. In the first decade of the Court’s existence, several dozen cases were re-argued. More recently, the number of re-arguments has dwindled to only a few per year at most. In fact, since 2000, the Court has called for re-argument in fewer than twenty cases. Some years see no re-arguments at all.
There are many reasons for re-argument. Sometimes a re-argument request reflects divisions on the Court and the possibility that additional argument will reduce those divisions. Most often, as here, the Court calls for re-argument in order to provide more ilumination as to certain issues. Shelton already promised to be a significant case in the area of consumer protection generally and on TCCWNA in particular. The Court’s call for re-argument only increases the potential importance of its eventual decision.