April 7, 2009
RICH HOWDEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
DAVE RUCH, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division, Special Civil Part, Mercer County, Docket No. SC-0510-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 11, 2009
Before Judges Rodríguez and Waugh.
Plaintiff Rich Howden appeals from the dismissal of his claim in the Special Civil Part. Howden sought the return of fees he paid defendant Dave Ruch for repairs to his Honda automobile, plus related expenses arising from what he characterized as inadequate repairs. After a bench trial before Judge F. Patrick McManimon, at which both parties testified, the judge found that Howden had not carried his burden of proof. We affirm.
Under Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Insurance Co. of America, 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974), the findings of a trial judge sitting without a jury are "considered binding on appeal when supported by adequate, substantial and credible evidence." Appellate judges "are not in a good position to judge credibility and, ordinarily, should not make new credibility findings," unless we are "'thoroughly satisfied that the finding is clearly a mistaken one and so plainly unwarranted that the interests of justice demand intervention and correction.'" Mountain Hill, L.L.C. v. Twp. Comm. of Middleton, 403 N.J. Super. 146, 193 (App. Div. 2008) (quoting Ridley v. Dennison, 298 N.J. Super. 373, 378 (App. Div. 1997)).
We are satisfied from our review of the record that Judge McManimon's factual findings are fully supported by the record. In essence, the trial judge determined that Ruch adequately repaired Howden's automobile at a reasonable price and that the subsequent problems experienced by Howden were not related to the work that was performed by Ruch. Consequently, Howden failed to prove that the subsequent problems were related to acts or inaction on Ruch's part.
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