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Greenfeder v. Jarvis

June 19, 1997

JODI GREENFEDER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JASON J. JARVIS AND FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY, B.H.S.C., INC., T/A BIRCH HILL NITE CLUB, BRIERWOOD MANOR, INC., T/A BIRCH HILL NITE CLUB, DEFENDANTS-THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENT, V. STEPHANIE A. MAGNONE AND MATTEO MAGNONE, THIRD PARTY DEFENDANTS.



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

Approved for Publication June 19, 1997.

Before Judges Shebell, Baime and Braithwaite. The opinion of the court was delivered by Shebell, P.j.a.d.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shebell

The opinion of the court was delivered by

SHEBELL, P.J.A.D.

On November 21, 1993, plaintiff, Jodi Greenfeder, was a passenger in a vehicle operated by defendant, Stephanie Magnone, and owned by Matteo Magnone, when it was in a collision with a vehicle operated on Route 9 in Old Bridge by defendant, Jason J. Jarvis. Jarvis leased the vehicle from defendant, Ford Motor Credit Company (FMCC).

On December 28, 1993, Greenfeder filed this action against Jarvis, FMCC, and the Magnones. Jarvis answered the complaint and filed a third party complaint for contribution against the Magnones. Plaintiff thereafter amended her complaint to add the Magnones as direct defendants, and also named B.H.S.A., Inc., t/a as Birch Hill Night Club. An amended complaint later corrected the name of the night club operator to Brierwood Manor, Inc.

FMCC, as lessor of the Jarvis vehicle, moved for summary judgment claiming that neither the law of New Jersey nor Massachusetts would hold it liable as owner except under principles of master servant, which did not apply in this case. Judge Kravarik, however, applied Connecticut law and denied summary judgment by order dated March 19, 1996.

Trial of the action was bifurcated as to liability and damages. Judge Corodemus presided over the jury trial as to liability, which commenced on March 31, 1996. At the Conclusion of the plaintiff's case, FMCC's motion for judgment was denied. The jury returned a verdict on April 2, 1996, finding Jarvis 100% negligent and FMCC liable as lessor.

FMCC and Jarvis filed separate motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (NOV), or, alternatively, for a new trial. On April 26, 1996, while the damages trial was under way, Judge Kravarik reconsidered his denial of FMCC's earlier summary judgment motion and held that Massachusetts law applied. Therefore, summary judgment was granted in favor of FMCC.

The damages trial was held and a jury verdict of $1,000,000 was returned on April 29, 1996, against Jarvis. On June 6, 1996, the motions for judgment NOV or new trial by FMCC and Jarvis as to liability were denied. Jarvis's motion for new trial as to damages was also denied.

Plaintiff appeals solely as to the grant of summary judgment to FMCC, arguing the following:

POINT I

CONNECTICUT LAW IS THE APPROPRIATE LAW TO APPLY THIS ...


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