Two for the Price of One | Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Call Today:

Two for the Price of One

Copy-of-Fotolia_80752093_L-768x512.jpgYou could call it bad luck. You could call it being in the wrong place at the wrong time twice. Whatever you call it, if you are injured in two distinct accidents, you may be able to consolidate two lawsuits against separate defendants into one lawsuit despite a significant time gap.

In Moraes v. Wesler, the New Jersey Appellate Division found a trial judge abused his discretion when he declined to consolidate lawsuits filed by a woman involved in two separate car accidents. In November 2011, an oncoming car crossed the road's center line into Telma Moraes' lane of travel and struck her vehicle. Suffering back injuries as well as an injury to her left knee, Moraes initiated a lawsuit in November 2012. Less than one year later, Moraes was involved in another accident when she was rear-ended by a second vehicle, causing further injury, including aggravating her back injuries from the first accident. Moraes filed a second lawsuit against the second driver. Soon thereafter, Moraes filed a motion to consolidate the actions, even though they involved two different accidents. The trial court judge denied the motion indicating that the lawsuits lacked "closeness in time" and would be likely to cause confusion with respect to liability issues.

Subsequently, Moraes retained a medical expert, who wrote a report discussing how each accident had contributed to her ongoing injuries. The defendant from the first accident also obtained a medical report opining that any ongoing injuries related to the second accident. With two new medical reports in hand, Moraes moved for reconsideration of the consolidation motion, which was denied by the trial judge without explanation.

On appeal, the Appellate Division reviewed the trial judge's denial under the "abuse of discretion" standard, which arises, in part, when a decision is made "without a rational explanation." First, the Appellate Division found that liability of the defendant drivers was straightforward - one admittedly crossed the center line and the other rear-ended Moraes' vehicle without an excuse. Therefore, the Appellate Division found it unlikely that a jury would confuse the respective liability issues at trial. Second, the Appellate Division held that, if kept separate, two juries could reach inconsistent verdicts regarding Moraes' injuries. In other words, the first jury could blame the second accident and the second jury could blame the first accident for Moraes' ongoing injuries, thereby leaving Moraes' without sufficient remedy.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

No Firm In Northern New Jersey Has More Experience Than We Do. Call 201-845-9600 Today To Put Our Knowledge On Your Side.

Email Us For a Response

Contact Northern New Jersey's Premiere Law Firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Park 80 West-Plaza One
250 Pehle Avenue
Suite 401
Saddle Brook, NJ 07663

Phone: 201-684-9695
Phone: 201-845-9600
Fax: 201-845-9423
Saddle Brook Law Office Map

Review Us