The Supreme Court Will Review Two More Published Appellate Division Opinions

The Supreme Court announced that it has granted certification in two more cases, one civil appeal and one criminal matter. Both of the new appeals involve issues of expert testimony, and both resulted in published opinions at the Appellate Division level.

In State v. G.E.P., which actually involves four consolidated cases, the question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Does the Court’s holding in State v. J.L.G., 234 N.J. 265 (2018), concerning the admissibility of expert testimony about Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome, apply retroactively to cases in the pipeline?” In an opinion reported at 458 N.J. Super. 436 (App. Div. 2019), a three-judge Appellate Division panel ruled that pipeline retroactivity was appropriate. The Supreme Court permitted the State, the petitioning party, to file a single, joint supplemental brief of up to 125 pages by November 25, 2019. Respondents were allowed to file a response, whose length the Court did not state, by January 9, 2020.

The civil case is Morales-Hurtado v. Reinoso. The question presented there is “Among other evidentiary issues in this automobile negligence action, was the proposed testimony of plaintiff’s life care expert witness admissible under N.J.R.E. 703, N.J.R.E. 808, and other applicable authority?” In the Law Division, plaintiff won a trial verdict for nearly $72,000 for past medical expenses and another $50,000 for pain and suffering even though the Law Division excluded plaintiff’s life care expert. On plaintiff’s appeal, the Appellate Division’s opinion, reported at 457 N.J. Super. 170 (App. Div. 2018), held that the Law Division had erred in excluding the expert’s testimony. Due to that and “many [other] errors,” the panel reversed and remanded for a new trial. But before any new trial, the Supreme Court will weigh in.