July 11, 2007
GOLDA D. HARRIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, AND LENA HARRIS, PLAINTIFF,
DYFS, ARC, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND JILL DEITCH, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, AND JANICE HALL, LILLIAN HALL AND JANICE VASQUEZ, DEFENDANTS.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Docket No. L-3272-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued June 13, 2007
Before Judges Wefing and Weissbard.
Plaintiff, Golda Harris, appearing pro se, appeals from an order of April 19, 2006, dismissing her complaint against defendants Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), Adoption Resource Center (ARC), State of New Jersey, and State employee Jill Deitch. We affirm.
Plaintiff is the maternal grandmother of D.M. and J.M. It appears that at some time she had custody of the two children. However, as a result of intervention by DYFS, an order was entered on October 23, 2003, removing custody from plaintiff and awarding it to Janice Hall, the paternal aunt of the children.
On June 24, 2005, plaintiff initiated suit pro se. The defendants were "DYFS, ARC, State of New Jersey, et al. and State Agency Employees," (the State defendants) as well as Lillian Hall, Janice Hall and Janice Vasquez. The complaint alleged that on October 23, 2003 the State defendants committed Deception, Slander, Child Endangerment, Pain and Suffering, Mental Anguish, Liable [sic] and Slander, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Violated Plaintiffs Civil, N.J. Constitutional and U.S. Constitutional Rights, Violated Plaintiffs Due Process.
On the State's motion, the complaint was dismissed on the basis that plaintiff had failed to file a Notice of Tort Claim as required by the Tort Claims Act (TCA). N.J.S.A. 59:8-3, 8-8 (a), (b). As noted, plaintiff alleged that her cause of action accrued on October 23, 2003, slightly less than two years prior to the filing of her complaint. Plaintiff neither filed a Notice of Tort Claim nor sought leave to file a late notice within the one year window provided by the statute. N.J.S.A. 59:8-9. The complaint was dismissed with prejudice on September 9, 2005.
Four days later, on September 13, 2005, plaintiff filed a second complaint alleging similar injuries and naming as defendants DYFS, ARC, Janice Hall, Lillian Hall, State Agency and Janice Vasquez. Although not named as a defendant, Deputy Attorney General Jill Deitch was served with the complaint. In this instance, the complaint alleged a date for accrual of the cause of action as February 17, 2005, and claimed that defendants were liable for [n]eglect, refused to investigate witness, violated child placement and protection of minors, lied, filed malicious and falsified documents in FC-20-67-04 against plaintiff caused emotional/intentional infliction of emotional distress to plaintiffs. Allowed the abuse of minors. Did not report abuse of minors.
On April 19, 2006, that complaint was dismissed, again because plaintiff had failed to comply with the notice requirement of the TCA.
Plaintiff filed an appeal of the April 19, 2006 order on June 2, 2006. Prior thereto, however, on May 17, 2006, she had moved to restore her complaint. That motion was also denied. Plaintiff appeals only the April 19, 2006 order, presenting the following argument for our consideration:
COMPLAINTS [sic] MOTION TO FILE OUT OF TIME AT THE TRIAL LEVEL WAS WITHDRAWN WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF OR NOTICE TO CLAIMANT WHO WAS UNAWARE OF THE WITHDRAWAL AND UNABLE TO PRODUCE A RESPONSE WITHIN THE TIME ALLOWED UNDER THE DOCTRINE OF NUNC PRO TUNC PRIOR TO THE DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT. THE TRIAL COURT SHOWED BIAS TO CLAIMANT.
We have considered plaintiff's argument in light of the record and applicable law and conclude that it is without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). As noted, plaintiff's suit against the State and its employees was subject to the TCA. However, she failed to comply with the notice requirements of the Act. As a result, her claim was properly dismissed.
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