August 2016 Archives | Bergen County, New Jersey, Law Blog
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August 2016 Archives

Do the Red Decals Reduce Teen Accidents?

driver-1149997_960_720-768x512.jpgOn May 1, 2010, New Jersey enacted what is commonly known as Kyleigh's Law. Kyleigh's Law requires that a driver under the age of 21, who holds a permit or probationary license, display a pair of Graduate Driver License ("GDL") decals, which are $4 red reflective decals, on their vehicle's license plates. Drivers who fall under Kyleigh's Law ("GDL drivers") may not operate a motor vehicle between the hours of 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., unless under the supervision of a front-riding passenger who is over 21 years old and has been a licensed driver for at least three years. Kyleigh's Law also restricts the number and type of passengers allowed in the car with GDL drivers. A GDL driver may also not use any "wireless communication device," or cell phone, when the car in is motion on a public road, except in an emergency, even if hands-free. GDL drivers essentially "tag" themselves so they are easily identifiable for police officers for enforcement purposes.

Different Standards Concerning Affidavits of Merit

Copy-of-Fotolia_26659931_S-768x514.jpgIn Meehan v. Antonellis, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed the different standards applicable to Affidavits of Merit ("AOM") in professional malpractice actions. The facts involved an orthodontist who was sued for dental malpractice by a former patient for side effects arising from a treatment for sleep apnea. The patient submitted an AOM from a prosthodontist who had twenty years' experience in the treatment of sleep apnea. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, stating that the AOM was required to be from a professional in the same specialty or subspecialty (a "like-qualified professional") as the defendant, and since the AOM did not come from an orthodontist, it was insufficient. The Appellate Division affirmed.

Defendants Are Entitled to Their Day in Court

courtroom-898931_960_720-300x226.jpgThe defendant, along with two co-defendants, was arrested and charged with various counts of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, child abuse and other counts. All three defendants moved to suppress the evidence recovered by the police. The trial court denied the motion as to all three defendants. Subsequent to the denial of the motions, the defendant and his two co-defendants pleaded guilty. The defendant received a sentence of 15 years with no early release. All three defendants appealed the denial of their suppression motions, which is allowed under court rule 3:5-7(d) even though they had pleaded guilty.

Defendant to pay millions more in damages for failure to change tire

driverIMG_3496bfree-768x512.jpgIn Ceasar, et. al. v. Flemington Car and Truck Country, et. al., the Appellate Division upheld the award of $3,000,000 in punitive damages, in addition to $2,000,000 in compensatory damages, for a family injured in an automobile accident caused by a tire blow out.

Economic Harassment Constitutes Domestic Violence

Copy-of-Fotolia_80752093_L-768x512.jpgIn C.G. v. E.G., Judge Jones found that economic harassment constitutes domestic violence under New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a), reasoning that "an ex-partner's acts of obstructing, interfering with, or threatening to endanger one's job and economic stability can be as fear-inducing to a victim as physical abuse." In the instant case, the defendant interfered with plaintiff's employment by calling plaintiff's workplace without her consent, bothering her employer as well as the employer's wife and humiliating plaintiff by alleging that she and the employer were engaged in an affair. The defendant also had a history of being both verbally and physically abusive towards the plaintiff. Ultimately, Judge Jones found that the defendant's attempted interference with plaintiff's employment constituted purposeful harassment and coercion. Additionally, he provided several examples of economic harassment, including: 1) making threats to contact the victim's place of employment in an attempt to get the victim fired; 2) contacting the place of employment in order to jeopardize the victim's job security; and 3) repeatedly appearing uninvited at the victim's place of employment and creating a disturbance. Therefore, C.G. v. E.G.underscores how New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is not limited to physical abuse and can include acts of economic harassment and coercion. 

State of Mind Is Relevant to Decision

Copy-of-Fotolia_26659931_S-768x514.jpgStephen Scharf was convicted of first-degree murder after he pushed his wife off of the Englewood cliffs. The defendant put forth a defense of accidental death, claiming that he and his wife were frequent visitors to the cliffs. During trial, the judge allowed testimony regarding the decedent's fear of her husband and of her unwillingness to be at the cliffs due to her fear of heights. The Appellate Division reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial, finding that the decedent's statements were irrelevant, because her state of mind was not at issue. It further stated that even if the statements were relevant, they were so prejudicial that the conviction was unjust. The Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the Appellate Division. In a 6-0 opinion, the Court held that when the defendant offers a defense of accidental death, the decedent's state of mind is put at issue. 

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