Plaintiff Failed to Explain the Untimeliness of His Demand for Trial De Novo
Michael Torres v. T.U.C.S. Cleaning Serv.
Docket No. A-0682-20 Decided September 19, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey affirmed the trial court’s ruling and reasoned that the plaintiff had failed to explain the untimeliness of his demand for trial de novo or demonstrate substantial compliance with the filing requirement.
In this matter, the plaintiff was injured in a slip and fall accident that occurred as he stepped off an escalator at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The plaintiff alleged that there was “something wet” or something “very slippery” on the escalator or floor that caused his fall. He claimed to have suffered permanent injuries including a herniated lumbar disc, lumbar radiculopathy, and post-traumatic lumbar facet arthropathy. Plaintiff ultimately alleged that his fall was caused by defendants’ negligent cleaning and maintenance efforts. He testified that he did not seek medical immediately after his fall because he was in shock, but saw his primary care physician several days later with complaints of headaches and pain in his neck, shoulders, and back. He had previously been in two motor vehicle accidents and an assault.
After filing suit, plaintiff’s counsel moved to be relieved as counsel, the trial court granted the motion and granted plaintiff an extension of discovery and time to retain new counsel. However, plaintiff’s new counsel also moved to be relieved, which the trial court denied. At mandatory arbitration, defendants’ independent medical examiner opined that plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing. The arbitrator assessed plaintiff’s damages at $10,000 and found each defendant 25 percent liable and plaintiff 50 percent liable. Plaintiff’s counsel then served a demand for trial de novo and moved to be relieved as counsel. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment and to strike plaintiff’s demand for trial as untimely, noting that plaintiff had not presented expert testimony and therefore had no evidence that defendants had notice of a dangerous condition or had breached their duties of care. As stated previously, the Appellate Court did not agree with the plaintiff’s position, and ultimately affirmed the trial court’s ruling, noting that plaintiff had failed to explain the untimeliness of his demand for trial de novo or demonstrate substantial compliance with the filing requirement.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to slip and fall accidents, and all the subsequent substantive and procedural issues that ensue with these types of matters. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
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