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Grogan v. William J. Scully Inc.

Decided: October 11, 1956.

WILLIAM GROGAN, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM J. SCULLY, INC., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.

Francis

In this workmen's compensation case a basic issue is whether the contract of employment out of which the employee's injury arose was made in New Jersey or New York. The Division held that it had a New York situs and dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. The County Court reversed, holding that the proof brought the action within Gomez v. Federal Stevedoring Co., Inc. , 5 N.J. Super. 100 (App. Div. 1949).

At the initial hearing, the only testimony taken related to the contract issue. The judgment of reversal in the County Court remanded the claim for the taking of necessary proof on the subject of disability and the fixing of the amount of compensation to be paid. Obviously, until the disposition of that aspect of the case there could be no final judgment.

In spite of the remand, the employer has undertaken to review the ruling of the County Court. The employee argues that the judgment is interlocutory and the notice not having been filed within ten days after the entry of the judgment of reversal and remand, the appeal should be dismissed.

We agree that the judgment is interlocutory. The employer's liability depends upon the resolution of three fundamental questions: (1) was Grogan an employee of defendant under a New Jersey contract of employment; (2) if so, did he sustain an accident arising out of and in the course of the employment, and (3) did he suffer injury thereby which caused medical expenses and temporary or permanent disability. Only the first problem was tried out. The other two will remain unresolved until the remand is executed in the Division. Until that time there will be no final judgment in the sense of our present rules, that is, one which disposes of all the issues in controversy upon which the right to recovery depends. Petersen v. Falzarano , 6 N.J. 447 (1951); Sagarese v. Board of Health of Town of Morristown , 27 N.J. Super. 400 (App. Div. 1953). And it has been held in at least three unreported workmen's compensation cases that where a dismissal is ordered in the Division on an issue of liability (not involving jurisdiction over the subject matter) and a reversal occurs in the County Court accompanied by a remand to have the amount of the award determined, the latter judgment is interlocutory and not appealable without leave. Miley v. East Rutherford Steel Erectors, Inc., A -329-55 (App. Div. 1956); McCartan v. Ewald Brothers Co., A -5-54 (App. Div. 1954); Schmidt v. P. Ballantine & Sons, A -111-53 (App. Div. 1954).

Under R.R. 2:2-3(a)(3), as it existed when this appeal was activated, interlocutory orders or judgments determining that "the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter or the person" were appealable as of right. Although the Workmen's Compensation Division is not a court (Mulhearn v. Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. , 2 N.J. 356 (1949)), the sense of the rule justifies the view espoused by appellant that it ought to be applied in the present situation and a requirement for application for leave to appeal should not be imposed. The action being reviewed is that of the County Court. Its status with respect to jurisdiction to award compensation is no greater than that of the Division. If there was no New Jersey employment relationship,

the claim was not within the orbit of either the administrative agency or the court.

The time limit set out for the serving and filing of a notice of appeal in such cases is ten days from the entry of the interlocutory judgment. R.R. 1:3-1(c). For cause and in the absence of prejudice, the period may be extended for 30 days on application therefor made before the end of the total time, namely, 40 days. R.R. 1:27 B. Here the County Court judgment was docketed on February 24, 1956. The notice of appeal was filed on April 7, 1956, 43 days later. No request for extension was made. In this posture of the case, we have no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. State v. Walker , 14 N.J. 475 (1954); In re Caruso's Will , 18 N.J. 26, 32 (1955); In re Pfizer's Estate , 6 N.J. 233 (1951); Borough of Neptune City v. Mestice , 31 N.J. Super. 6, 8 (App. Div. 1954), certification denied 18 N.J. 105 (1955); Bergman v. Hall , 21 N.J. Super. 476 (App. Div. 1952).

The employer contends further that the County Court judgment should be considered as final and appealable as of right within 45 days under R.R. 1:3-1(b). We have already indicated our view to the contrary. However, in support of its position, Lee v. Heath , 61 N.J.L. 250 (E. & A. 1897) and Salvato v. New Jersey Asphalt & Paving Co. , 135 N.J.L. 185 (E. & A. 1947), are cited. Both of these cases were fully tried out in the trial court and final judgments entered. Reversal in the Supreme Court in one for error in the rejection of certain evidence at the trial, and in the other for error in the quantum of damages and remand in both for new trial, was held not to preclude the pursuit of a further appeal to the Court of Errors and Appeals. It was said that a writ of error in the Supreme Court constituted a new suit and the judgment therein was a final one and reviewable.

In workmen's compensation cases the appeal to the County Court is a trial de novo on the record. And following reversal of a dismissal of a petition, a final judgment awarding ...


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