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City of Newark v. County of Essex

Decided: June 7, 1978.

CITY OF NEWARK, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
COUNTY OF ESSEX ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from Essex County Court whose opinion is reported at 144 N.J. Super. 566.

Halpern, Larner and King. The opinion of the court was delivered by Larner, J.A.D.

Larner

In an opinion reported at 144 N.J. Super. 566 the trial court decided that the County of Essex is liable to the City of Newark in the sum of $425,511.67 for reimbursement of expenses incurred by the city for overtime pay to police and firemen for services rendered in connection with riots occurring between September 1 and 14, 1974. The legal basis for the city's claim is derived from N.J.S.A. 2A:48-4, a section of Article I of Chapter 48, entitled "Mobs and Riots."

This section provides:

2A:48-4. Protection of property; expenses

The mayor or officer or sheriff shall, upon receiving the notice, take all legal means to protect the property attacked or threatened. The expenses incurred by any of such officers in the performance of any duty hereby imposed shall be paid by the county treasurer of the county in which the property is situate, upon the approval thereof by a judge of the county court of such county.

In construing this statute as a component part of the entire article, the trial judge sitting without a jury made a factual determination that riot or series of riots took place in the City of Newark over the period of September 1 to 14, 1974 in which there ensued damage to private property. The evidence in the record amply supports this finding. And as we view this appeal, our consideration of the propriety of the judgment turns upon the meaning and intent of the aforesaid legislation and its applicability herein.

As far as we can determine there has been no other litigation between a municipality and a county in this State under this section of the act and no judicial expression relating to the right of reimbursement from a county for expenses incurred in riot protection.*fn1 By the same token, there are no available aids by way of legislative statements or other historical material which might reveal the purpose or intent of the Legislature in adopting this particular section of the act. We therefore undertake to analyze this provision in the context of the overall chapter dealing with "Mobs and Riots" in order to arrive at a rational legislative purpose and intent in authorizing recovery of incurred expenses by "the mayor or officer or sheriff" from "the county in which the property is situate."

It is undeniable from the historical development of this legislation and its very terms that the statutory section in question cannot be viewed in isolation. It must be construed as but a part of Article I (N.J.S.A. 2A:48-1 to 7) which creates a cause of action against certain governmental entities for property damage caused by a riot.

As noted in A & B Auto Stores v. Newark , 59 N.J. 5, 12 (1971), this legislation was initially adopted in this State in

1864 (L. 1864, c. 150 at 237-239), patterned after similar statutes in New York and Pennsylvania.*fn2 The act of 1864 did not contain a provision relating to recovery of expenses from the county, but in substance included all the provisions relating to property ...


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