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Russo-Roper v. Flynn

July 30, 2007

ANGELA M. RUSSO-ROPER AND CRAIG ROPER,*FN1 HER HUSBAND, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
FRANCIS J. FLYNN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Docket No. L-3632-03.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued July 10, 2007

Before Judges Fuentes and Graves.

Following a motor vehicle accident, plaintiff Angela M. Russo-Roper filed this personal injury action against defendant Francis J. Flynn. On April 6, 2005, a jury determined plaintiff failed to prove she sustained a permanent injury as a result of the motor vehicle accident. Consequently, an order of judgment was entered in favor of defendant.

On appeal, plaintiff presents the following arguments:

POINT I

THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FAILING TO ADJOURN THE TRIAL DATE, AND THIS ERROR DEPRIVED PLAINTIFF OF HER FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SELECTION OF THE JURY; THE VERDICT MUST BE REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR A NEW TRIAL.

POINT II

IT WAS ERROR TO BAR PLAINTIFF'S PROOFS REGARDING HER LOST WAGE CLAIM.

Based on our review of the record, we conclude plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to present her case to the jury, and the trial court did not misapply its discretion in failing to adjourn the trial date. Accordingly, we affirm with only these brief comments.

Plaintiff's complaint was filed on August 22, 2003, and the case was first listed for trial on May 23, 2005. The trial was adjourned on a number of occasions, and on February 22, 2006, plaintiff requested that the trial, which was scheduled for Monday, March 6, 2006, be adjourned until April 3, 2006. That request was granted. However, on March 27, 2006, plaintiff's attorney requested a further adjournment because of other commitments, including two appeals that were scheduled for oral argument before this court on Wednesday, April 5, 2006. When that request was denied (on March 27, 2006), plaintiff's asked the trial court to enter an order memorializing its decision, and on March 29, 2006, the trial court entered an order indicating the matter was "listed try or dismiss on April 3, 2006." In an addendum to the order, the court explained:

Although plaintiff agreed to April 3, 2006, the plaintiff now requests yet another adjournment from a firm date that they had themselves suggested. . . . We advised the plaintiff that we will take notice of their Appellate Division commitment and will accommodate that commitment. Plaintiff, however, refuses to accept this and asks for another adjournment to another date that they at this point agree to. . . .

In a letter to the Assignment Judge of Passaic County, plaintiff apparently insists that they are only responsible for one or two of the adjournments. While the court's records indicate otherwise, plaintiff misses the point. It is this court's function to see to the timely administration of justice in this matter. This case is now 31 months old. Regardless of who is responsible for a case being adjourned, the ...


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