December 7, 2007
CHERYL FLANAGAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
NICHOLAS MELLITAS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Hudson County, Docket No. DC-15117-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 26, 2007
Before Judges Weissbard and Baxter.
Cheryl Flanagan appeals from a December 20, 2005 order dismissing her complaint and from a January 6, 2006 order denying her motion for reconsideration. We affirm.
When plaintiff was evicted from an apartment that she rented from defendant Nicholas Mellitas, defendant arranged for a moving company to take plaintiff's belongings to a storage unit. When plaintiff went to the storage unit, she discovered that her living room furniture was missing. She filed suit against defendant in the Special Civil Part seeking damages of $9,000 for the cost of the missing furniture. After considering the testimony from the parties, Judge Curran dismissed plaintiff's complaint. The judge found that plaintiff had not sustained her burden of proof because she failed to present documentary or photographic evidence that the furniture plaintiff claimed to be missing had actually been in the apartment. Although plaintiff presented numerous receipts, the judge carefully reviewed each receipt on the record, and concluded that none established that plaintiff owned living room furniture with a value of $9,000.
After Judge Curran dismissed plaintiff's complaint, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, which was heard by Judge Tolentino. The judge denied the motion, concluding that plaintiff had presented no meritorious basis for reconsideration. Thereafter, plaintiff appealed both the December 20, 2005 dismissal of her complaint by Judge Curran and the January 6, 2006 denial of her motion for reconsideration by Judge Tolentino.
Our standard of review is a narrow one. In reviewing the factual findings and conclusions of a trial judge, we are obliged to defer to the trial judge's credibility determinations and the judge's "feel of the case" based upon the judge's opportunity to see and hear the witnesses. Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 411-13 (1998). We will not disturb the judge's findings unless they are "so manifestly unsupported by or inconsistent with the competent, relevant and reasonably credible evidence as to offend the interests of justice." Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co. of Am., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974). Here, there was substantial credible evidence in the record to support the findings made by Judge Curran. We also agree with Judge Tolentino's conclusion that plaintiff presented nothing to warrant reconsideration, but was simply dissatisfied with the original decision by Judge Curran.
We have carefully reviewed plaintiff's contentions in light of the record and applicable law, and conclude that her arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A) and (E).
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