September 10, 2007
IN THE MATTER OF JOSEPHINE VILLONE A/K/A JOANNE VILLONE, AN ADULT ALLEGED TO BE IN NEED OF PROTECTIVE SERVICES.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division-Probate Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. 42467.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted:*fn1 August 29, 2007
Before Judges Cuff and Lintner.
Appellant Daniel Villone, the eldest son of Josephine Villone, seeks appellate review of two orders. The first order, dated May 18, 2006, quashed a notice in lieu of subpoena for production of adult protective services records. The second order, dated October 12, 2006, denied Villone's motion to dismiss the verified complaint seeking an injunction against a caretaker interfering with protective services and granted the Hunterdon County Department of Human Services' motion preserving all rights of the Estate of Josephine Villone against Daniel Villone, and dismissing the adult protective services complaint. We dismiss the appeal from the May 18, 2006 order as moot; we dismiss the appeal from the October 12, 2006 order as interlocutory.
Josephine Villone, also known as Joanne Villone, died on July 8, 2006. The Hunterdon County Department of Human Services correctly recognized that the demise of the person in need of protective services terminated the need for services but did not necessarily resolve all issues that caused the need for court intervention. In short, the context in which any claims may be asserted has simply shifted from an action for adult protective services to a probate proceeding. No specific claims had been asserted or resolved. Accordingly, the dismissal without prejudice of the adult protective services action and the preservation of any claims in favor of the Estate of the decedent was an interlocutory order.
We also dismiss the appeal from the May 18, 2006 order as moot. We recognize the centrality of the confidentiality provision, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-409c, of the Adult Protective Services Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-406 to -425, to the effective operation of this protective device. Nevertheless, the subject of the protective services complaint has died, and the protective services action has been dismissed, albeit without prejudice. Although the claims that caused the county to invoke the court's jurisdiction were preserved for the decedent's estate, we have been informed that the county has not asserted any claims against Daniel Villone and has no intention to do so. We have been informed that the action filed by the executor has been resolved and that claim has been dismissed. The matter is, therefore, moot.