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The Penalty Rule Does Not Apply To Marital Settlement Agreements

July 16, 2019

MARGARITA ROMANOVA reports on a recent published decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. More often than not, voluntarily-executed divorce settlement agreements are perceived to be strictly contractual in nature and defined by the "four corners" of the document. However, the matrimonial setting has significant implications on the Court's interpretation and enforcement of those agreements. The Courts recognize that former spouses may decide to breach the divorce agreement solely to inflict emotional or economic harm on the former spouse that cannot be compensated under traditional contract principles. In a recent published decision, the Appellate Division reaffirmed that the policies underlying general contract principles do not apply with equal force in(...)

Appellate Division Reverses Trial Court’s Grant Of Summary Judgment To Law Firm In Legal Malpractice Action Based On Trial Court’s Failure To Allow Plaintiff To Prove A “Case Within A Case”

July 15, 2019

ROBERT B. SPAWN reports on a recent unpublished decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. In a recent New Jersey legal malpractice case, a Plaintiff contended that a Law Firm and three individual attorneys employed by the Law Firm (collectively, "Defendants") negligently failed to develop evidence and expert testimony concerning a brain injury he suffered as a result of a January 2011 slip and fall accident. Indeed, Plaintiff was diagnosed with cognitive impairments as a result of the fall, which included, but were not limited to, difficulty with memory, a cerebral concussion, post-traumatic headaches, post-concussional syndrome, and depression. Yet despite the fact that Defendants were in possession of Plaintiff's medical records detailing these(...)

Appellate Division Affirms Lower Court’s Grant Of Summary Judgment To Teacher, School, And School Board In Personal Injury/Recreational Sports Case

July 8, 2019

ROBERT B. SPAWN reports on a recent published decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. In a recent New Jersey case, a Plaintiff, a student at a Defendant-Middle School in Union County (the "School"), was injured while playing in a student-teacher fundraising basketball game. Approximately fifteen teachers and seventeen students participated in the June 2013 game, which was officiated by a referee. There were also five other teachers who did not play in the game, but attended to provide supervision. During the game, Plaintiff went up for a rebound and made contact with a Defendant-Teacher (the "Teacher") playing for the opposing team. As a result of the contact, Plaintiff landed awkwardly, fell, and sustained injuries to her knee. In October 2015,(...)

The Uphill Battle In Proving Cohabitation

June 14, 2019

MARGARITA ROMANOVA reports on a recent unpublished decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's determination that the payor spouse failed to present sufficient evidence of cohabitation to warrant suspension or termination of his alimony obligation. Prior to the parties' divorce in 2013 (and during their separation), the wife began a romantic relationship with her paramour, and they had a child together shortly thereafter. Two years after the parties' divorce, the husband hired a private investigator to conduct surveillance of his wife's alleged cohabitation with her paramour. At the plenary hearing, the investigator testified that the paramour drove the parties' son to(...)

A Police Officer Intentionally Prolonging A Routine Traffic Stop For The Purpose Of Conducting A “Canine Sniff” Test Requires Reasonable Suspicion That The Driver Was Engaged In Drug Activity

June 13, 2019

STELIOS STOUPAKIS reports on a recent unpublished decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, concerning the suppression of evidence when a police officer intentionally prolonged a routine traffic stop to enable a "canine sniff" test which resulted in damaging evidence against the driver. Specifically, the Appellate Division effectively secured a driver's rights during a routine traffic stop and tightened a police officer's broad authority over a driver. A police officer is authorized to conduct several unrelated checks during a lawful traffic stop; however, the police officer cannot do so in efforts to prolong a stop without reasonable suspicion that would justify detaining an individual. The Defendant, in this case, was charged with second-degree(...)