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Lickfield v. Lickfield

September 21, 1992

GRACE LICKFIELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
E. GILBERT LICKFIELD, DEFENDANT



Segal, J.s.c.

Segal

OPINION

The court is faced with an issue of first impression. The subject is the interpretation of the entire controversy doctrine

as it applies to The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et seq.

Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce in June 1991. Thereafter she filed a complaint under The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act alleging that defendant had sexually assaulted her. A temporary restraining order issued and the matter proceeded to final hearing. At the final hearing the trial Judge made a finding of domestic violence (defendant sexually assaulted plaintiff). At the very end of that proceeding counsel for plaintiff remarked to the court: "Thank you Your Honor. All the collateral issues can be done in the "FM", Judge, when they happen." There was no assent or opposition from defendant's counsel regarding this apparent reservation. The reservation according to plaintiff was a request that the issue of damages be reserved for the divorce proceeding.

Thereafter, consistent with a prior order of the court, plaintiff amended her divorce complaint to include a claim for damages inflicted as a result of defendant's violence. In the divorce action plaintiff has moved for summary judgment as to liability and defendant has cross-moved to have plaintiff's claim barred under the entire controversy doctrine or the doctrine of res judicata. The court finds that plaintiff's request for damages is not barred by either the entire controversy doctrine or res judicata and grants summary judgment in favor of plaintiff.

The entire controversy doctrine (or single controversy doctrine) . . . is a preclusionary principle intended to prevent fractionalization of litigation by requiring all claims between the same parties arising out of or relating to the same transactional circumstances to be joined in a single action. The effect of the doctrine is to preclude a party from withholding from the action for separate and later litigation a constituent component of the controversy.

[ Brown v. Brown, 208 N.J. Super. 372, 377-378, 506 A.2d 29 (App.Div.1986).]

The doctrine is one of judicial fairness. Crispin v. Volkswagenwerk, A.G., 96 N.J. 336, 476 A.2d 250 (1984).

The purposes of the doctrine include the needs of economy and the avoidance of waste, efficiency and the reduction of delay, fairness to the parties, and the

need for complete and final Disposition through avoidance of ...


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