On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket Nos. L-1075-07 and L-3916-06.*fn1
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Gilroy and Chambers.
These are back-to-back appeals, consolidated for the purpose of this opinion. In the matter of Michael Bandler v. Progressive Specialty Insurance Co., Docket No. A-3953-07, plaintiff appeals from the order of the Law Division dismissing his complaint with prejudice, and awarding defendant counsel fees as sanctions for filing a frivolous action under N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1 and Rule 1:4-8. In the matter of Michael Bandler v. Estate of Bertha Klein, Docket No. A-0197-07, plaintiff appeals from a series of orders entered by the trial court, leading to a final judgment against plaintiff pursuant to a jury verdict.
After reviewing the record before us, and mindful of prevailing standards, we are satisfied that the trial court properly addressed and disposed of all of the issues plaintiff has raised in these two consolidated appeals. We thus affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the various judges who have presided over these matters. In the interest of clarity, we will summarize the salient facts and identify the key procedural events as to each of the matters under review.
At all times relevant to this case, plaintiff owned a 1999 Volkswagon Jetta that was generally driven by plaintiff's daughter Doree. On August 10, 2003, Doree was involved in a car accident in which the Jetta collided with a car owned and operated by Bertha Klein. Plaintiff's other daughter Mindy was a passenger in the Jetta at the time of the accident.
According to plaintiff, the collision resulted in approximately $2,500 worth of damage to the Jetta. At the time of the accident, plaintiff had an auto insurance policy issued by Progressive Specialty Insurance Co. (Progressive). Klein was insured by New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. (NJM).
However, while Klein subrogated her claims to NJM, plaintiff paid for the damage to the Jetta himself, and did not seek payment from Progressive for his property damage.
On January 5, 2004, plaintiff, Doree and Mindy filed an action in the Law Division, Essex County, against defendants Klein and NJM, seeking reimbursement for the repairs to the Jetta and the cost of a rental vehicle ("First Complaint"). This matter was assigned Docket No. L-189-04.
In June 2004, NJM filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss plaintiff's complaint, arguing that there was no privity of contract between NJM and plaintiff or his two daughters, as NJM was only Klein's insurer.*fn2 Also in June 2004, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to compel Klein and NJM to comply with various discovery requests. By orders dated November 19, 2004, Judge Winard granted NJM's motion for summary judgment, and dismissed plaintiff's and his two daughters' complaint against NJM with prejudice. The court also denied plaintiff's motion for discovery.
Klein died on November 11, 2004. Barbara Librizzi was named as executrix of Klein's estate. As a result, plaintiff filed a second motion to compel NJM to comply with his discovery requests, contending that NJM was in possession of documents not otherwise available. The court denied the motion by order dated December 17, 2004, explaining that the summary judgment previously granted to NJM precluded any ...