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Guerrero v. City of Newark

Decided: March 18, 1987.

ANGEL GUERRERO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CITY OF NEWARK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND SMITH MOTORS CO., AND MICHAEL GAGLIOTTI, DEFENDANTS



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County.

Michels and Skillman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Michels, P.J.A.D.

Michels

Pursuant to leave granted by this court, defendant City of Newark appeals from an order of the Law Division that denied its motion to dismiss with prejudice the complaint of plaintiff Angel Guerrero for failure to comply with the notice requirements of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 et seq. Judge Cocchia in the Law Division held that the information provided by plaintiff substantially complied with these requirements. We agree and affirm.

At issue here are several sections of Chapter 8 of the Tort Claims Act. N.J.S.A. 59:8-3 prohibits bringing an action "against a public entity under this act unless the claim upon which it is based shall have been presented in accordance with the procedure set forth in this chapter." The reasons for this notice requirement are contained in the official comment to N.J.S.A. 59:8-3, which provides:

The purpose of the claims notification requirement in this Chapter is two-fold: (a) to allow the public entity at least six months for administrative review with the opportunity to settle meritorious claims prior to the bringing of suit; (b) to provide the public entity with prompt notification of a claim in order to adequately investigate the facts and prepare a defense.

The contents of any claim presented pursuant to the Tort Claims Act is governed by N.J.S.A. 59:8-4. This section mandates that:

A claim shall be presented by the claimant or by a person acting on his behalf and shall include:

a. The name and post office address of the claimant;

b. The post-office address to which the person presenting the claim desires notices to be sent;

c. The date, place and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gave rise to the claim asserted;

d. A general description of the injury, damage or loss incurred so far as it may be known at the time ...


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