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Mirandi v. New Jersey Highway Authority

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


March 25, 2008

THOMAS MIRANDI, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
NEW JERSEY HIGHWAY AUTHORITY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation, 2000-32972.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 11, 2008

Before Judges Coburn and Grall.

In this workers' compensation action, the judge of compensation determined that petitioner, Thomas Mirandi, was entitled to an award of total disability payments and entered an order to that effect on July 14, 2006. The date of total disability was determined to be December 1, 2002. However, Mirandi, who resigned from his position with the respondent New Jersey Highway Authority on May 1, 2002, was also receiving an ordinary disability pension.

The judge recognized that respondents were entitled to an offset of $312.72 per month as a result of our decision in Rosales v. State Department of the Judiciary, 373 N.J. Super. 29 (App. Div. 2004), certif. denied, 182 N.J. 630 (2005). But the judge limited the offset to payments received after November 8, 2004, the date Rosales was filed.

On appeal, respondents make only one argument; namely, that the judge erred in failing to give Rosales retroactive effect. Their contention is sound. Generally, "judicial decisions are applied retroactively to all civil matters that have not reached final judgment." Frazier v. N.J. Mfrs. Ins. Co., 142 N.J. 590, 606 (1995) (citation omitted). However, the general rule does not apply if the case announces a "new rule" that is a "sudden and generally unanticipated repudiation of a long-standing practice." State v. Chirokovskcic, 373 N.J. Super. 125, 130 (App. Div. 2004) (quotation and citation omitted). But that is not situation here.

In Rosales, supra, we noted the "long-standing public policy of N.J.S.A. 34:15-43 prohibits the dual recovery of both pension benefits and Workers' Compensation benefits for the same disability." 373 N.J. Super. at 38. And in Bunk v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, 114 N.J. 176, 189 (1996), the Court reached the same conclusion. In short, since there has been a longstanding policy against allowing double recovery in workers' compensation matters, the judge of compensation erred in giving that ruling only prospective effect. Therefore, we are obliged to reverse and remand for entry of a revised judgment giving respondents the full offset to which they were entitled.

Reversed and remanded.

20080325

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