March 22, 2010
KEVIN MILLEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
THE TIMES OF TRENTON PUBLISHING CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket No. L-3018-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 9, 2010
Before Judges Carchman and Ashrafi.
Plaintiff Kevin Millen appeals from an order of the Law Division dismissing his defamation complaint filed against defendant The Times of Trenton Publishing Corporation. On defendant's motion for summary judgment, Judge Innes concluded that plaintiff's complaint was time-barred by the applicable one-year limitations period established by N.J.S.A. 2A:14-3.*fn1 We agree and affirm.
These are the relevant facts. On November 11, 1998, defendant published an article entitled "Former Player Arrested Again." The article pertained to plaintiff's arrest and arraignment in Washington, D.C. for allegedly stalking and threatening John Thompson, Jr.*fn2 , plaintiff's former basketball coach at Georgetown University. More than ten years later, on November 17, 2008, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Law Division alleging that the November 1998 article was defamatory. Defendant moved to dismiss asserting that the action was time-barred. Plaintiff claimed that the limitations period does not apply because he just discovered the article on the internet. Judge Innes granted the motion, and this appeal followed.
N.J.S.A. 2A:14-3 provides that "Every action at law for libel or slander shall be commenced within 1 year next after the publication of the alleged libel or slander." This article was published ten years ago and is clearly beyond the limitations period.
Plaintiff urges that the limitations period should be tolled because of plaintiff's belated discovery of the article. The Supreme Court addressed that issue in Lawrence v. Bauer Publ'g & Printing LTD, 78 N.J. 371 (1979), where the Court noted:
The statute of limitations applicable to the present suit, however, does not measure the limitations period in terms of the 'accrual' of a cause of action. Instead, it provides that an action must be brought within one year of 'the publication' of the alleged libel. The Legislature has therefore fixed a precise date on which the limitations period begins to run. Once the date of the publication is determined, there is no need for further judicial intervention.
[Id. at 374-75.]
See also Presslaff v. Robins, 168 N.J. Super. 543, 547 (App. Div. 1979) ("[D]iscovery rule inapplicable to one- year statute of limitations for libel contained in N.J.S.A. 2A:14-3") (citing Lawrence, supra, 78 N.J. 371).
The additional issues raised by plaintiff are without merit, R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E), and we conclude that the defamation action was time-barred.