Reported Decisions

Toto v. Ensuar, 196 N.J. 134 (2008)
Plaintiff, an expert witness visiting the Monmouth County Courthouse, had a dispute with Sheriff’s Officer Schulze during the security screening process. Subsequently, Schulze and Sheriff’s Officer Ensuar arrested and handcuffed Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit against the Sheriff’s Officers claiming that he had been assaulted by the officers. The issue before the Supreme Court of New Jersey was whether the verbal threshold applies to a willful misconduct claim against a public employee. The Court also considered whether the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that the Act’s good faith defense does not apply to false arrest/false imprisonment claims. The Court held “when a public employee’s actions constitute willful misconduct, the plaintiff need not satisfy the verbal threshold and may instead recover the full measure of damages ‘applicable to a person in the private sector.’ N.J.S.A. 59:3-14(a).” The Court further held that “the erroneous instructions on the good faith defense require a new trial.” Therefore, the case was remanded for a new trial on liability and damages as to Schulze and for a new trial limited to proximate cause and damages as to Ensuar.
Sadhu Singh Hamdad Trust v. Ajit Newspaper Adver., Mktg. & Communs., Inc. et al, 503 F. Supp. 2d 577 (E.D.N.Y. 2007)
Plaintiff, a charitable trust, is the owner and publisher of a newspaper the Ajit Daily, in print for over 50 years in the Punjab region of India. Beginning in 1993, Defendants published a periodical called the Ajit Weekly in Canada, which expanded shortly thereafter into the United States and elsewhere, targeting the immigrant Punjabi community. Plaintiff filed suit against the Defendants, claiming that Defendants infringed its trademarks and copyrights in its Logo and Masthead. As a foreign copyright holder through the Berne Convention, the court required Plaintiff to show that the works rose to a sufficient level of creativity to be protected under Indian and U.S. Copyright laws, and that the works were also infringed under the U.S. Copyright Act. The Defendants dispute that Plaintiff has a valid copyright in either work. The Court ruled that the matter should proceed to trial.
U.S. Material Supply, Inc., v. Korea Exchange Bank, 417 F.Supp.2d 652 (D.N.J. 2006).
Korea Exchange Bank issued a letter of credit to U.S. Material Supply, Inc. to extend credit on behalf of the Defense Procurement Agency, Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea. Payment was not made on the letter of credit, and U.S. Material Supply, Inc. sued Korea Exchange Bank, the issuer of the letter of credit. The United District Court for the District of New Jersey granted Defendant Korea Exchange Bank’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that a single letter transaction was insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over Defendant, Korea Exchange Bank.
Isetts v. Borough of Roseland, 835 A.2d 330, 364 N.J. Super. 247 (App.Div. 2003).
Plaintiff signed a general release in connection with settlement of his first state-law based whistleblower lawsuit releasing Defendants from “any and all claims, rights, actions and causes of action of any kind, both at law and equity, which he has, had or may have had against any of the defendants.” The Court held that a general release, which does not expressly include a waiver of discovery, does not limit the right to discovery in a future lawsuit involving an unreleased claim.
Lockley v. State of New Jersey, 828 A.2d 869, 177 N.J. 413 (2003).
The Supreme Court upheld the Appellate Division’s decision that the jury instructions given by the trail court were inadequate, because no explanation of the term “upper management” was given. The Court also held that in an assessment of punitive damages against a public entity the financial condition of the defendant is irrelevant.
Downey v. Coalition Against Rape and Abuse, 143 F.Supp.2d 423 (D.N.J.2001).
The U.S. District Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint and held that Plaintiff’s amended complaint sufficiently stated claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and 42 U.S.C. §1985. The state action requirement necessary to state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 was satisfied where the amended complaint alleged facts indicating that the government defendants intimidated and coerced CARA into terminating her from her position as Executive Director of CARA. Also, the Court held that Plaintiff adequately pled conspiracy to deprive her of her federal constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C §1985(3) based on an equal protection violation based on gender stereotyping.
Lockley v. State of New Jersey, 779 A.2d 1092, 344 N.J. Super. 1 (App.Div.2001).
The Appellate Division upheld the compensatory damages award of $750,000 and attorney’s fees in the amount of $ 855,350.19. However, the Appellate Division found that the trial court’s instructions to the jury on punitive damages were inadequate because no attempt was made to explain and expound upon the term “upper management” and reversed and remanded the $3,000,000 punitive damages award.
Lanni v. State of New Jersey, 259 F. 3d 146 (3d Cir. 2001).
The Plaintiff, who prevailed in his suit brought under ADA and LAD, argued that the District Court erred in its calculation of his attorney’s fees. On appeal, the Third Circuit held that the District Court’s use of an historical graduated scale to calculate the current market rate for partners at Wong Fleming was an abuse of discretion.
Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise v. Renzulli, 188 Misc. 2d 710 (Sup. Ct. Suffolk Co. 2001).
The Defendant a New York resident incurred a gambling debt in the State of Connecticut with Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, doing business as Foxwoods Resort Casino, located in the State of Connecticut. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise was owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, a sovereign Indian Nation. The Court held that although obligations incurred as a result of gambling losses are generally unenforceable in New York, a gambling debt could be enforced in New York, where it was validly contracted in another jurisdiction and was enforceable there. In this case, games of chance at the Indian reservation in question were permissible under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §2710 et. seq. and the Tribal State Compact preempted Connecticut State law against the extension of credit for gambling.
Davis v. Township of Hillside, 190 F.3d 167 (3d Cir. 1999).
A pursuing police car bumped into the rear of a suspect’s car, causing him to lose control of his car, which led to a collision in the plaintiff bystander was injured. The plaintiff sued the Township and the individual police officers alleging violations of federal and state law. On appeal the Court upheld the grant of summary judgment in favor of the individual officers on Plaintiff’s §1983 and §1985 claims and the dismissal of plaintiff’s state law claims. The Court held that liability for a high-speed chase could not be imposed under 42 U.S.C. §1983 because the officer’s conduct did not “shock the conscience.”
Lanni v. State of New Jersey, 177 F.R.D. 295 (D.N.J. 1998).
The Plaintiff, who suffered from dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysnomia and other neurological impairments, alleged that Defendants discriminated against him because of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). The Court granted Plaintiff’s in limine motion to preclude testimony by his former wives and divorce complaints, except for impeachment or rebuttal purposes. The Court denied Defendants’ in limine motion to preclude testimony by other DEP employees to the extent related directly to Plaintiff’s claim of discrimination, or sufficiently similar acts of discrimination.
Theobald v. Dolcimascola, 299 N.J. Super. 299 (App. Div. 1997).
Plaintiffs’ decedent son died playing Russian Roulette, while five other teenagers sat and watched. The decedent’s parents filed an action against the teenagers for the wrongful death of their son. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. On appeal, the Court affirmed holding that that the defendants had no duty to rescue, because they were mere onlookers.
Ivaldi v. Ivaldi, 672 A.2d 1226, 288 N.J. Super. 575 (App. Div. 1996).
The parties entered into a separation agreement, which granted physical custody of their child to the mother. When the mother moved to Morocco with her child, as permitted under the separation agreement, the child’s father filed a complaint seeking sole custody of the child, and the lower court ordered the child’s return. On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed and held that there was no basis for the conclusion that defendant wrongly removed the child because the agreement clearly contemplated that defendant would leave the country.
Schulman v. J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Inc., 35 F.3d 799 (3d Cir. 1994).
Mortgagee (J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Inc. and Widener Funding Corporation, Inc.) loaned the owner of a commercial building (Widener Associates Limited Partnership) approximately $63 million to finance building renovations. The mortgage and loan documents gave the mortgagee had the right to approve leases. A tenant of the building claimed that the mortgagee intentionally interfered with contractual relations between tenant and landlord, after the mortgagee told the landlord that it did not like the appearance of tenant’s business and the landlord told the tenant to vacate the premises. On appeal, the Court held that the District Court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant mortgagee on Plaintiff’s claims for intentional interference with existing contractual relations and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations. Plaintiff’s claim for intentional interference with existing contractual relations failed, because there was no lease between the landlord and tenant, only a draft lease which was never executed by the landlord. Plaintiff’s claim for intentional interference with prospective economic relations also failed, because the mortgagee had a financial interest in the landlord’s business.
RTC v. Pasquierillo, 16 F.3d 525 (3d Cir. 1994).
The trustee in bankruptcy and the Resolution Trust Corporation sued to avoid the fraudulent transfer of property from the debtor to his wife. The debtor’s wife demanded a jury trial. The Court denied her petition for a writ of mandamus, because the right to a jury trial was not clear and unmistakable in this case, where in addition to a request for an avoidance and money damages, the appellees sought “a plethora” of equitable including an accounting, an injunction, an equitable lien or constructive trust, and equitable subordination of the Pasquariellos’ interest in the properties.