District of New Jersey Denies Summary Judgment Despite the Liquid Spilling Four Minutes Before the Fall

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On March 10, 2016, the District of New Jersey addressed the mode of operation doctrine and issues related to constructive notice.  In Romeo v. Harrah’s Atlantic City Propco, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31456 (D.N.J. March 10, 2016), the plaintiff fell on a liquid in a common walkway at a casino.  A surveillance video showed a patron spilling his beverage on the floor and then four minutes later, the plaintiff slipped.  The casino employees also inspect the location where the plaintiff fell every thirty to forty minutes.  The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it did not have constructive notice of the dangerous condition.

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New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That a Defendant is Only Required to Produce Surveillance Evidence After the Plaintiff Has Been Deposed

On September 3, 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Division reiterated the notion that trial courts should take a balanced approach when it comes to the discoverability of surveillance evidence obtained for purposes of litigation.

surveillance-152097_1280 (2)In Mernick v. McCutchen, the Appellate Division was tasked with assessing whether surveillance videos of a plaintiff were protected from discovery due to the work product doctrine. The plaintiff was injured in a car accident, and after the plaintiff filed her lawsuit, the defendants took surveillance videos of the purportedly injured plaintiff.  In their discovery responses, the defendants acknowledged that they possessed the surveillance videos but refused to produce the videos until after the plaintiff had been deposed. As a result, the plaintiff’s counsel refused to produce his client for deposition until the videos were provided. Read the rest of this entry »


NJ Appellate Division: Charitable Immunity Unavailable When a Plaintiff is on Premises as an Employee of a Third Party

The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed a trial court’s ruling that a community college employee who was injured in a slip-and-fall at a nonprofit rehabilitation facility where she taught classes to nurses was not a beneficiary of the clinic’s charity and could not rely on the Charitable Immunity Act for a defense.   In Kostera v. Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation, Dkt. No. A-1991-13T4 (N.J. App. Div. Aug 6, 2015), the Appellate Division also affirmed the $4 million jury award. Read the rest of this entry »


“Joint Employment” Argument Utilized to Secure Dismissal of Personal Injury Lawsuit Pursuant to New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act

In a recent case in Hudson County, New Jersey, Pisciotti Malsch successfully argued that a plaintiff’s civil lawsuit against its client was barred pursuant to New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

The plaintiff was employed as a maintenance worker for a nonprofit organization (the Charity) that supports and provides assistance to developmentally disabled adults.  The Charity leased a building on the property owned by Pisciotti Malsch’s client (the Church).  While repairing a wheelchair ramp leading to the Charity’s offices, the plaintiff fell and suffered severe injuries (back injuries and torn rotator cuff requiring multiple surgeries).  Plaintiff sued the Church, arguing that the Church owned the ramp at issue and had a duty to properly maintain the ramp. Read the rest of this entry »


NJ Appellate Division Cracks Down on the Practice of Bootstrapping Expert Opinions

Last week, primarily relying on Evidence Rules 703 and 808, the New Jersey Appellate Division struck a blow to the practice of bootstrapping, which is when a testifying expert at trial improperly presents a non-testifying expert’s opinion to the jury.

In James v. Ruiz, the New Jersey Appellate Division addressed whether lawyers are allowed to ask an expert witness at trial whether his or her findings are consistent with those of a non- testifying expert. In other words, the Appellate Division confronted the practice of utilizing expert testimony to “bootstrap” into evidence unauthenticated hearsay studies, reports, or other documentary evidence.

Judge Sabatino, writing for the Court, held that such questioning is inappropriate when the purpose is to have the jury consider an absent expert’s hearsay opinions about “complex and disputed matters.”
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