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Significant Reported Cases

C.R. v. M.T., (A-47-22) (087887) (April 22, 2024)

The plain language of the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA) requires a court to consider whether there is a chance that a survivor may be exposed to physical danger, risk, or injury, or may be exposed to something emotionally unwelcome or unpleasant that could make the survivor feel uncomfortable, unhealthy, or unhappy. Because the language of factor two is centered on the safety or well-being of the victim-survivor, a survivor’s own testimony regarding possible future risks to their safety or emotional well-being can suffice. The Court’s reading of the plain text of factor two as creating a lenient and easy-to-satisfy standard is reinforced by context: the “possibility of future risk” required for a SASPA FPO is less demanding than the “necessary” protection required for a SASPA TPO or the “immediate danger” required for a PDVA FRO. Applying that standard, the Court defers to the trial court’s factual findings because they are supported by substantial evidence and finds no error in the court’s legal conclusion.

G.C. v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, 249 N.J. 20 (2021)

In this case, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s invalidation of N.J.A.C. 10:72- 4.4(d)(1) as inconsistent with its state enabling legislation and contrary to legislative intent. The Court also found that the state regulation’s method of operation was also inconsistent with the federal Medicaid law, and accordingly vacated that portion of the Appellate Division’s analysis that rejected the federal-law argument by cross-petitioners.

C.R. v. M.T., 248 N.J. 428 (2021)

In this case, the New Jersey Supreme Court rendered its first decision in the 2015 Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA), reversing an Appellate Division decision which held that an alleged victim of sexual assault can only show that her level of intoxication resulted in unlawful nonconsensual sex if she proves that she was intoxicated to the level of “prostration of faculties.” In its decision, the Supreme Court held that the Appellate Division’s opinion requiring alleged victims of sexual assault to be held to the same standard as criminal defendants “would set the Court’s law back decades to a time when alleged victims were the ones essentially put on trial” and “has no place in our jurisprudence.” Rather, the Supreme Court held that the affirmative consent standard in sexual assault cases first articulated in the 1992 case of State in Interest of M.T.S., 129 N.J. 422 (1992) is the appropriate standard under SASPA.

McClain v. Bd. of Review, 237 N.J. 445 (2019)

In these companion cases, both of our clients were denied unemployment benefits under a recent amendment to unemployment law statute N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) because each left their first employer to accept employment that was to commence within a seven day period, but the new employer rescinded their job offers before our clients were able to started their new jobs. After the Appellate Division issued conflicting decisions, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification and held that N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) requires only that a claimant leave her job with a first employer "to accept" employment with a second employer which commences within the seven-day period to be eligible for unemployment benefits, and not actually commence employment with the second employer.

Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action v. Township of Mount Holly, 658 F.3d 375 (3d Cir. 2011)

The Third Circuit reversed the decision of the District Court granting summary judgment to the Defendants, the Township of Mt Holly and the redevelopers, finding that there was sufficient evidence establishing a prima facie case that the Township’s redevelopment plan, calling for the total destruction of the Gardens neighborhood and relocation of all Gardens residents, had a disparate impact upon the low-income, predominately African-American and Latino residents. The Court also found that there was a material factual dispute as to whether the Township could have pursued less discriminatory alternatives for eliminating blight in the Gardens community. The Court affirmed the dismissal of the intentional discrimination claim. In this decision, the Third Circuit affirmed that disparate impact remains a viable means of establishing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) and was the first Circuit court to apply the FHA to the redevelopment context, finding that municipal actions to remove residents through actions such as eminent domain were subject to judicial review in light of the protections afforded by the FHA, rejecting the Township’s argument that such review impermissibly restricted the ability of municipalities to conduct planning and address deteriorated conditions in their communities.

B.H. v. State, Dept. of Human Services, 400 N.J. Super. 418 (App. Div. 2008)

Appellant was denied renewal of Work First New Jersey/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (WFNJ/TANF) benefits because the Division of Family Development argued that “a WFNJ/TANF grant could not be provided for a child receiving a DYFS grant during the same period.” Id. at 423. The Appellate Division held that “an administrative agency may not issue an instruction or directive that resembles a rule of law.” Id. at 430-431. Because the instruction issued by the DFD was a rule of law, it was invalid and the Appellate Division reversed the agency’s decision to revoke B.H.’s benefits.

Cramer Hill Residents Ass'n, Inc. v. Primas, 395 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 2007)

The city of Camden sought eminent domain acquisition of seventy-two parcels of land under N.J.S.A. 52:27D-325 which expressly predicates “the exercise of the power of eminent domain… to municipalities under section 325… upon a finding that the proposed land acquisition is ‘necessary or useful for the construction or rehabilitation of low or moderate income housing.’" Id. at 7. The city failed to show that the acquisition of land would result in the availability of more housing, therefore the appellate division found the trial court had no authority to proceed and remanded the case to the trial court.

Sudersan v. Royal, 386 N.J. Super. 246 (App. Div. 2005)

The federal definition of “rent” under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437 to 1437z-7, preempted New Jersey contract law and prohibited the landlord from expanding the definition of “rent” in the lease to include unpaid utilities for the purpose of dispossessing the Section 8 tenant from the residence.

Baldwin v. Housing Authority of City of Camden, NJ, 278 F.Supp.2d 365 (D.N.J. 2003)

The court found that HACC’s use of “creditworthiness” under the Section 8 Tenant-Based Housing Choice Voucher Program was appropriate. However, since the use of that criteria post-dated Baldwin’s application she was denied due process of law when her application was denied on the basis her credit history.

In the Matter of Adoption of a Child by J.D.S., 176 N.J. 154 (2003)

Office of the Public Defendant (OPD) is responsible for providing free transcripts to indigent parties when parental rights are terminated involuntarily. The OPD is responsible for ancillary expenses even when a public interest law firm undertakes representation.

Riverview Towers Associates v. Jones, 358 N.J. Super. 85 (App. Div. 2003)

The court reviewed the regulations of the “rent-subsidized tenancy created by the federal Section 236 Rental Assistance Program, 12 U.S.C.A. § 1715z-1,” and concluded that “[a]lthough the complaint for summary dispossess[ion] is sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the court under New Jersey Law… it is insufficient notice under federal law and the terms of the lease.” Id at 89. The landlord failed to comply with the required notice under the HUD lease, therefore under federal law, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter judgments of possession evicting the tenants.

New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. L.A., 357 N.J.Super. 155 (App. Div. 2003)

A finding of abuse or neglect in child dependency proceeding has a profound impact on a family, and, thus it is paramount that any finding must be based on competent reliable evidence. Remand was required in child dependency proceeding in which trial court erroneously based its finding of abuse and neglect against mother on child's uncorroborated statements, so that child could be interviewed by trial judge; child was 13-years-old and capable of providing testimony about events that led to finding of abuse and neglect, as well as testimony expressing preference and concerns regarding custodial arrangements.

Housing Authority & Urban Redevelopment Agency of City of Atlantic City v. Taylor, 171 N.J. 580 (2002)

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that a landlord could not charge a tenant $144.50 in attorney’s fees as “additional rent” under the Brooke Amendment, which limits “rent” to 30% of the gross income under U.S.C.A. § 1437a(a)(1). To the extent state law permits public housing authorities to designate other charges as “additional rent,” state law conflicts with federal law and is preempted. However, public housing authorities may collect these charges in separate proceedings.

Community Realty Management, Inc. for Wrightstown Arms Apartments v. Harris, 155 N.J. 212 (1998)

The Supreme Court of New Jersey found that Burlington County’s Rule 4:42 consent order summary disposition forms, for tenants living in Section 8 housing under the National Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437, were confusing and problematic for pro se tenants. The Court directed the Special Civil Part Practice Committee to propose appropriate standardized forms and in the interim directed every county to immediately provide plain language information to pro se litigants, including bilingual instructions.

In re Yeutseun Chen, 227 B.R. 614 (D.N.J., 1998)

State of New Jersey obtained a judgment against Chen on the grounds that he made false statements in obtaining unemployment benefits. The state entered the bankruptcy proceedings by filing an adversary complaint contesting discharge of the debt arguing Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. The district court found that by entering the bankruptcy proceeding voluntarily, and failing to plead sovereign immunity, Eleventh Amendment immunity was waived. Additionally, the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s finding that “the mens rea element, required by New Jersey case law, to find a violation of § 43:21- 16” differs from the higher level of “‘intent to deceive’… necessary to find a debt nondischargeable under § 523(a)(2)(A)." Id. at 625, 626. Therefore, the bankruptcy court’s discharge of the debt owed the state was affirmed.

B.N. v. Department of Human Services, 287 N.J.Super. 270 (App. Div. 1996)

Single mothers receiving temporary rental assistance benefits (TRA) under Aid to Families to Dependent Children (AFDC) program complied with requirements of the act by undertaking individualized service plans. Nevertheless TRA benefits were terminated pursuant to N.J.A.C. 10:82-5.10(f)(5)(i)(1) by the director of the Department of Family Development (DFD) solely on the grounds of a 12 month rental assistance limitation in the act. The appellate court found while the focus on the act is self sufficiency, the legislature did not authorize DHS to terminate benefits while person are striving toward their goals and complying with their service plans as outlined in N.J.A.C. 10:82-5.10(e)(1)-(2) and 10:85-4.6(c)(1)-(5).

C.F. v. Board of Educ. of City of Wildwood, 96 N.J.A.R.2d (EDU) 619 (1996)

Court held that a student suspended indefinitely was entitled by due process to emergent relief; notice of factual charges; and a full hearing within 21 days of the suspension, when suspension lasts for more than ten days pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:37-4.

B.C. v. New Jersey Dept. of Human Services, 263 N.J.Super. 225 (App. 1993)

Petitioners were recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). N.J. Admin. Code tit. 10 § 82-4.15 (a), as amended, provides that lump sum periods of ineligibility would be determined by the “standard of need” applicable to the family rather than the former “allowance standard.” However, the Division of Economic Assistance applied the former “allowance standard” to lump sum income petitioners from non excluded funds. The fact that the Division of Economic Assistance had failed to formally establish this standard in no way excuses their obligation to utilize this standard in determination of lump sum ineligibility periods in actions predating In re Petitions for Rulemaking, N.J.A.C. 10:82-1.2 and 10:85-4.1.

Ashley Court Enterprises v. Whittaker, 249 N.J.Super. 552 (App. Div. 1991)

The trial court found in favor of landlord and the appellate court reversed finding the landlord failed to comply with the statutory notice requirements under the Anti-Eviction Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1). Id. at 556, and that the lease covenant that the trial court found tenants breached was unenforceable because it unreasonably prohibited “reoccurring visits by adult persons or children.” Id. at 558.

A.P. Development Corp. v. Band, 113 N.J. 485, 550 (1988)

Landlord cannot remove tenant pursuant to New Jersey’s Eviction Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 j, unless after a written notice to cease tenant has habitually and without legal justification failed to pay rent. The Court determined that the landlord’s course of dealing with tenants in accepting late payments, after giving notice to cease, violated the spirit of the statute and was unreasonable notice.

Harry’s Village, Inc. v. Egg Harbor Township., 89 N.J. 576, (1982)

Landlord obtaining rent increase from rent control board must serve tenants with a notice to quit before the rent increase becomes effective. However, where a landlord substantially complies with requirements of a notice to quit pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61-1(Supp. 1981-1982), and inadvertently fails to give notice on the precise anniversary date, a notice to quit may be effective on the next anniversary date after receipt of the notice.

Cooper Medical Center v. Boyd, 179 N.J. Super. 418 (App. Div. 1981)

Hospital’s alleged violation of the Hill-Burton Act, first enacted as Title VI of the Public Health Service Act of 1944, 42 U.S.C.A. § 291 et seq., is available as a defense to indigent defendants as hospitals’ failure to give notice to presumptively indigent patients is an absolute bar to the right to sue for bill for patient services.

Housing Authority of City of Wildwood v. Hayward, 81 N.J. 311 (1979)

N.J.S.A. 2A:18-57 provides that in summary dispossess proceedings no warrant of removal shall be issued until the expiration of 3 days after entry of judgment for possession. The judgment in this case was invalid, because clerks shall not enter judgment without giving tenants an opportunity to be heard. R. 6:6-3(b) and judgment for possession failed to provide for a fixed time within which back rent has to be paid.

Gilbert v. State, Dept. of Human Services, Division of Public Welfare, 167 N.J. Super. 217 (App. Div. 1976)

Volunteers In Service to America program (VISTA), 42 U.S.C.A. § 5044(g), preempts General Assistance Law, N.J.A.C. 10:85-3.3(e)(1)(ii). The appellant in this case, a recipient of a monthly grant of $82 under General Assistance, joined VISTA and received a bi-weekly federal stipend of $145.85. The following month she was advised that her general assistance benefits would terminate on grounds that receipt of the VISTA stipend caused her monthly income to exceed eligibility levels under General Assistance Law. The appellate court held that general assistance benefits could not be terminated under VISTA because “payments to volunteers shall not in any way reduce or eliminate the level of or eligibility for assistance or services any such volunteers may be receiving under any governmental program.” Id. at 219.

Rowe v. Pittsgrove Township., 153 N.J.Super. 274 (App. Div. 1977)

Pittsgrove Township is a “developing” community within the meaning of Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Mount Laurel Twp, 67 N.J. 151 (1975) and “displaced” tenants are entitled to relocation assistance. The Mt. Laurel duty to provide and plan for future needs of the region’s low and moderate-income families is equally applicable to “displaced persons” in building code enforcement actions. The Court determined temporary relocation in Bridgeton, which on its face perpetuates segregated housing patterns, cannot qualify as satisfactory replacement housing under the Relocation Laws of 1967 and 1971, N.J.S.A. 52:31B-1 et seq. and N.J. S.A. 20:4-1 et seq., and that Pittsgrove had a duty to provide permanent replacement housing within Pittsgrove Township.

Gilbert v. Tull, 145 N.J.Super. 53 (App. Div. 1976)

Class action suit brought to determine the rights of applicants for immediate relief under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits. The court determined immediate benefits could not be denied to presumptively eligible applicants solely on grounds that the applicants did not specifically state the need for immediate benefits on the application. Applicant’s written statement, signed under oath, is sufficient “presumptive” evidence of eligibility.

Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Mount Laurel Township, 67 N.J. 151 (1975)

The New Jersey Supreme Court held Mount Laurel’s zoning ordinance presumptively contrary to the general welfare and beyond the intended scope of the zoning power. No “developing municipality” may exclude or limit categories of housing solely for fiscal, economic or environmental reasons, when such system of land use regulations makes it economically and physically impossible to provide its fair share of low and moderate income housing. When developing municipalities choose to enter the field of land use regulation, they assume a duty to act affirmatively to provide their fair share of low and moderate housing necessary to meet the regional housing needs. “These obligations must be met unless the particular municipality can sustain the heavy burden of demonstrating peculiar circumstances which would dictate it should not be required to do so.” Id at 174.

Ponter v. Ponter, 135 N.J.Super. 50 (App. Div. 1975)

Court applied the decision of Doe v. Bolton, and Roe v. Wade and determines that wife has a constitutional right to obtain a sterilization operation without the consent of her husband, and finds it unnecessary to grant injunctive relief.

Crist v. Division of Youth and Family Services, 128 N.J.Super. 402 (App. Div. 1975)

Court holds that indigent parents threatened with removal of their children by Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) are constitutionally entitled to counsel free of charge, paid for by DYFS.

Pierce v. Pierce, 122 N.J.Super. 359 (App. Div. 1973)

Appellant sentenced to 30 days in jail for failure to comply with a matrimonial support order. The court held that incarceration is a coercive remedy to achieve compliance, and should not be limited or delimited by a specific term, but should depend for its length on the continuation of noncompliance.

State v. Shack, 58 N.J. 297 (1971)

Trespass statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:170-31, cannot be invoked by employer of migrant farm workers to convict a field worker and an attorney for non-profit because it would deny the workers’ right to privacy or interfere with their opportunity to live with dignity and to enjoy associations customary among New Jersey Citizens. Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, 222(a) (3), 311-314, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2809(a) (3), 2861-2864. Migrant farm workers must be allowed to receive visitors at their living quarters of their own choice, so long as there is no behavior hurtful to others.

Marini v. Ireland, 56 N.J. 130 (1970)

Tenants can properly enforce landlord’s duty to make repairs by giving timely notice to landlord and seeking to offset cost of repairs against rent in summary disposition actions. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53(b). The county district court has jurisdiction over the issue of default, which encompasses the question of whether the amount of rent alleged to be in default, is due, and unpaid.


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