This matter came before this court on April 15, 1994, on a motion by defendant, North Jersey Cleaning Services, Inc. to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 4:30A. I reserved
decision with regard to the issue whether to bar plaintiff's complaint under the entire controversy doctrine.
The issue in this matter is whether the entire controversy doctrine as set forth in Rule 4:30A applies where a party to an action had previously made a motion to join an entity not named in the original complaint as a party defendant and that motion was denied by the court.
A novel question is involved. Counsel have cited no New Jersey case dealing with this problem and research has disclosed none.
The following facts have been presented:
On June 21, 1988, defendant slipped and fell on the stairs at the Avenel Rail Station allegedly as a result of loose cement, a slippery substance, and the lack of overhead lighting. Plaintiff's complaint was filed against New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc. on October 25, 1989. At the time of the alleged accident, North Jersey Cleaning Services allegedly had a contract with New Jersey Transit Rail Operations to sweep and empty the garbage at the Avenel Station two times per week.
It was not until December 12, 1991, that New Jersey Transit Rail Operations advised plaintiff's attorney of the existence of North Jersey Cleaning Services, Inc. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff's attorney filed a motion to amend their complaint to include North Jersey Cleaning Service, Inc. as a direct defendant. This motion was denied on January 27, 1992, by Judge Seaman, in that the case had already been set for trial on April 7, 1992. No attempt allegedly was made by New Jersey Transit Rail Operations to bring North Jersey Cleaning Services into the case as a third-party defendant.
On April 9, 1992, New Jersey Transit Rail Operations settled the case with plaintiff McKim and proceeded to file a separate law suit against North Jersey Cleaning Services, Inc. for indemnification and attorneys fees.
The entire controversy doctrine . . . is a preclusionary principle intended to prevent the fractionalization of litigation by ...