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Sullivan v. Saylor

Decided: April 11, 1963.

FRANCIS W. SULLIVAN AND PROVIDENT TRADESMENS BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, A CORPORATION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF J. GRIFFITH BOARDMAN, DECEASED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
H. DURSTON SAYLOR, II, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF SAL J. CIAVARELLI, DECEASED, AND HERMAN RAVITCH, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Conford, Gaulkin and Kilkenny. The opinion of the court was delivered by Conford, S.j.a.d.

Conford

This is an appeal from an order denying the plaintiffs' motion for payment by the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey of funds from the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund (N.J.S.A. 39:6-61 et seq.). The sole question for determination is whether plaintiffs' decedent is a "qualified person" within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 39:6-62, and thus entitled to payment.

The decedent, J. Griffith Boardman, was killed instantly on August 12, 1960 while operating a motor vehicle in Gloucester County, New Jersey, as the result of a head-on collision caused by the negligent operation of another automobile operated by defendants' decedent, Sal J. Ciavarelli. Ciavarelli was an uninsured motorist who was illegally operating the automobile. Suit against Ciavarelli was instituted by plaintiffs, executors of Boardman's estate, and counsel for the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund consented to the entry of judgment against defendant Saylor, executor of the estate of Ciavarelli, for the maximum amount payable from the Fund, to wit, $10,000, but without prejudice as to the matter of qualification.

Among other requirements, the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund Law contemplates that only "qualified persons" may be paid out of the Fund. N.J.S.A. 39:6-62 defines a "qualified person" as follows:

"'Qualified person' means a resident of this State or the owner of a motor vehicle registered in this State or a resident of another State, territory, or Federal district of the United States or Province of the Dominion of Canada, or foreign country, in which recourse is afforded, to residents of this State, of substantially similar character to that provided for by this act."

The parties have agreed that the only issue presented here is whether Boardman was a "resident of this State" for purposes of this statute.

Mrs. Boardman, widow of the decedent, gave the following testimony. She and Boardman were married in Philadelphia in 1934. He was in the insurance business and his headquarters

were in Philadelphia. He voted in Philadelphia, and their children went to school there. The death certificate listed Boardman's address as being in Philadelphia, where the family had a home. Boardman was a member of the Philadelphia-Delaware Bridge Commission and was appointed as a resident from Pennsylvania. His will was probated in that state. He had been a member of the board of directors of a Philadelphia bank.

In 1946 the Boardmans purchased a home as tenants by the entirety in Strathmere, Cape May County, New Jersey. This home was apparently sold in 1952, when another home was purchased by the couple, also in Strathmere. The family would live in this home during the summers, and Boardman frequently lived in this home at other times during the period from April to November. This apparently was due to the fact that he had business interests in New Jersey in this area. He was an officer of the Atlantic City Racing Association, and part owner of a large motel in Atlantic City. In the period from March to November he "usually stayed" at the Strathmere home, which was characterized as being as comfortable and as well furnished and maintained as the Philadelphia home. During such periods he would go back and forth to Philadelphia, but "not every day * * * because his interest in the race track kept him there, and during the racing season he was there constantly."

Boardman owned, in addition to the homes mentioned above, about "six blocks" worth of real estate in Strathmere; he was a member of a golf club and a yacht club in New Jersey in the Strathmere area, and he had three boats which he kept on the bay in Strathmere. Since the Boardmans' marriage it was their custom to spend their summers in New Jersey. He had told his wife that it was his intention to make Strathmere their exclusive home when he was able to retire from business. At the time of his death Boardman was 57 years of age.

On the foregoing evidence the trial judge ruled against the plaintiffs, and this ...


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