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Aruanno v. Curio

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


April 6, 2010

JOSEPH ARUANNO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
GEORGIA M. CURIO, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND GEORGE H. STANGER, JR. AND TRUDI MOORE, DEFENDANTS.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Docket No. L-17005-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 22, 2010

Before Judges Yannotti and Chambers.

Plaintiff Joseph Aruanno appeals from an order entered by the trial court on April 17, 2009, denying his motion for reconsideration of an order entered on March 6, 2009, which dismissed his complaint with prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On September 11, 2006, plaintiff filed an action in the Law Division, Cumberland County, against defendants Assignment Judge Georgia M. Curio, Judge George H. Stanger, Jr. and Court Clerk Trudi Moore, in which he alleged that defendants had improperly dismissed an earlier action, Aruanno v. Southwoods Prison, Docket No. CUM-L-1157-01. The action was transferred from Cumberland County to Atlantic County.

On March 30, 2007, the trial court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for lack of prosecution pursuant to Rule 1:13-7. In July 2007, plaintiff filed a motion for reinstatement of the complaint, which the trial court granted on August 3, 2007. In December 2007, the trial court again dismissed plaintiff's complaint for lack of prosecution. On May 20, 2008, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to appeal out of time. We entered an order dated July 17, 2008, denying the motion for leave to appeal out of time, noting that the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint was without prejudice and he had the right to seek reinstatement of his lawsuit in the trial court.

Plaintiff then moved in the trial court for reinstatement of his complaint. The trial court entered an order dated January 9, 2009, which granted the motion as to Judge Curio, but denied the motion as to the other defendants. On January 28, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion for entry of default and on February 19, 2009, Judge Curio filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because she was entitled to judicial immunity for the actions taken regarding plaintiff's earlier lawsuit.

Judge Steven P. Perskie filed a memorandum of decision dated March 6, 2009, in which he noted that judges enjoyed absolute immunity for acts performed in their judicial capacities. The judge stated that plaintiff's complaint arose from actions that Judge Curio took "while acting as a judge." The judge therefore concluded that Judge Curio enjoyed absolute immunity from the claims asserted in plaintiff's lawsuit. Judge Perskie entered two orders dated March 6, 2009, one granting Judge Curio's motion to dismiss and the other denying plaintiff's motion for entry of default.

On March 23, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the March 6, 2009 order. Judge Perskie filed a memorandum of decision dated April 17, 2009, in which he concluded that plaintiff failed to establish any basis for reconsideration of his earlier order. The court entered an order dated April 17, 2009, denying plaintiff's motion. This appeal followed.

Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by dismissing his claims against Judge Curio. We disagree. As Judge Perskie correctly found, the acts that form the basis of plaintiff's complaint were taken while Judge Curio was acting as a judge and, therefore, she was entitled to absolute immunity from the claims being asserted by plaintiff in this case. We therefore affirm substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Perskie in his memoranda of decision dated March 6, 2009, and April 17, 2009.

Affirmed.

20100406

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