January 22, 2008
GERTRUDE WEXLER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
J. CREW GROUP, INC., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, L-2497-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued January 8, 2008
Before Judges Coburn and Fuentes.
Plaintiff alleged that she had sustained personal injuries on defendant's premises as a result of its negligence.
After the time for discovery ended, the case was scheduled for non-binding arbitration pursuant to Rule 4:21A. Plaintiff's request for adjournment of the arbitration hearing was denied by an administrator. At the hearing, the parties essentially agreed to a no cause arbitration award because plaintiff did not have an expert report on liability. The award was made on January 3, 2007. On February 14, 2007, plaintiff filed a notice of motion asking for leave to file a demand for trial de novo out of time, and other relief which is not presently relevant. Judge Williams denied the motion, and plaintiff appeals.
After carefully considering the record and briefs, we are satisfied that plaintiff's arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion, R. 2:11- 3(e)(1)(E), and we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Williams in her thorough and carefully reasoned memorandum opinion of March 2, 2007. Nonetheless, we add the following comments.
The judge properly rejected plaintiff's claims that her lawyer's secretary's vacation and her lawyer's involvement in a trial constituted extraordinary circumstances justifying the late filing of the de novo trial request. See, e.g., Hartsfield v. Fantini, 149 N.J. 611, 617-19 (1997). And the judge was also unquestionably correct in ruling that plaintiff's expressed intent to file a demand for a trial de novo is an insufficient ground for the failure to actually do so in a timely manner.
Wallace v. JFK Hartwych at Oak Tree, 149 N.J. 605, 608-610 (1997).
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