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Gooding v. Thompson

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


June 11, 2010

MERCEDA D. GOODING, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, AND FRANCES SWIFT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WENDY THOMPSON, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Part, Atlantic County, SC-0298-09.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 1, 2010

Before Judges Reisner and Chambers.

Plaintiff Merceda D. Gooding appeals from an order entered on March 6, 2009 dismissing her small claims complaint against defendant Wendy Thompson.*fn1 We affirm.

These are the most pertinent facts. In June 2008, plaintiff paid defendant, a travel agent, $990 for a cruise to the Caribbean scheduled for December 7, 2008. However, on October 30, 2008, plaintiff sent defendant an email message, advising defendant that she needed to cancel the trip because she was ill. Plaintiff admitted knowing that by the time she attempted to cancel the trip, defendant had already bought a cruise ticket for her.

At the trial, defendant produced evidence that her trip brochures recommended that all customers buy travel insurance, which cost $129. However, plaintiff did not purchase the insurance. Defendant also testified that all of the receipts she gave her customers stated that "the monies are not refundable." According to defendant, plaintiff told her that the reason she wanted to cancel was concern over whether her unemployment benefits would be extended; defendant urged plaintiff to go on the cruise anyway, because the ticket was not refundable. Defendant also testified that she tried to find someone to take plaintiff's place on the cruise, but was unable to do so.

In an oral opinion placed on the record on March 6, 2009, Judge Higbee found that the parties entered into a contract that did not obligate defendant to refund any money if plaintiff did not go on the trip. She also found that defendant tried to mitigate plaintiff's damages by finding someone else to buy the ticket. Unfortunately, defendant was not able to find anyone willing to purchase plaintiff's ticket. Judge Higbee also found that defendant had advised plaintiff to buy trip insurance, but plaintiff had not done so. Under those circumstances, defendant had no legal obligation to give plaintiff a refund.

On this appeal, plaintiff contends that defendant did not disclose or advertise trip insurance; the judge erred in finding that plaintiff was not entitled to a refund; and defendant violated the Refund Policy Disclosure Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-2.14. We conclude that the judge's decision is supported by substantial credible evidence, R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A), and that plaintiff's appellate arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Having reviewed the record, we agree with Judge Higbee's decision, and we affirm for the reasons stated in her opinion.

Affirmed.


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