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Rokosny v. Lipman


February 19, 2008


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Ocean County, FV-15-1316-05.

Per curiam.



Submitted January 28, 2008

Before Judges Stern and Kestin.

Defendant, Wayne Lipman, appeals from an order dated May 4, 2007, memorializing the May 2 denial of his motion for monetary compensation. The order was entered "without prejudice."

The motion for monetary compensation was filed under the aegis of an earlier matter, docket number FV-15-1316-05, in which a final restraining order had been entered against defendant on January 4, 2005. The May 4, 2007 order from which this appeal is taken, in addition to denying defendant's motion for monetary compensation, mandates that "[a]ll provisions of the [earlier] final restraining order . . . remain[] in full force and effect until further order . . . ."

Defendant's current quest for monetary compensation began with a complaint filed in the Special Civil Part. When that matter came before the court, Judge Courtney determined that the Special Civil Part lacked jurisdiction and that the complaint needed to be filed in the Family Part. Although a transfer of the matter on the court's own motion would have been the appropriate course of action, see R. 1:13-4(a), apparently defendant voluntarily withdrew the complaint and re-filed his request as a motion in the Family Part under the former docket number. Plaintiff cross-moved for denial of the claim and various other relief.

The motions came before the Family Part on May 2, 2007. The court, in considering them, placed the parties under oath and conducted a plenary hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Blaney made specific findings that no adequate basis had been established for any of defendant's claims that he was entitled to monetary or other relief. The affirmative relief sought in plaintiff's cross-motion was denied in all particulars. In concluding his decision regarding the relief defendant sought, the judge also observed that the Family Part lacked jurisdiction over the monetary claims.

The trial judge's findings of fact regarding defendant's lack of entitlement to the monetary relief he sought, having been based upon adequate, substantial and credible evidence in the record made in an evidentiary proceeding, are binding on appeal. See Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 483-84 (1974). We discern no error of law in that determination and therefore have no warrant to intervene.

We disagree with the trial judge's observation that the Family Part lacked jurisdiction over the matter. All claims "unique to and aris[ing] out of a family or family-type relationship" are cognizable in the Family Part, R. 5:1-2(a), see, e.g., Mitchell v. Oksienik, 380 N.J. Super. 119, 131 (App. Div. 2005), especially where an older matter pends between the parties, see, e.g., Olson v. Stevens, 322 N.J. Super. 119, 123 (App. Div. 1999). Notwithstanding our disagreement with the trial court's observation regarding jurisdiction, we are bound to accept its findings on the substance of the matter, which were made after a full consideration of the factual dispute.

Since disposition of the parties' instant motions occurred under the aegis of an extant restraining order in a Family Part matter, it was appropriate that resolution of the issues take the form of a "without prejudice" order, out of regard for possible future enforcement needs in respect of the restraints. It is clear from the findings made at the hearing, however, that the issues arising from defendant's monetary claims and plaintiff's responsive motions seeking affirmative relief were fully and finally resolved adversely to the movants.



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