On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FV-07-1272-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 20, 2010
Before Judges Grall and LeWinn.
Defendant appeals from a domestic violence final restraining order (FRO) entered against him on November 12, 2009, in favor of plaintiff, with whom he had a dating relationship for approximately one-and-a-half years. We affirm.
The pertinent factual background is summarized from the hearing on plaintiff's application for the FRO. The parties met at a gym where plaintiff was employed and defendant was a member. They never lived together, and by the time of the incident triggering plaintiff's application, their relationship was faltering.
Plaintiff testified that on the night of November 4, 2009, she went to defendant's house, knocked on the door, and "he came out and he seemed like he was upset that [she] was there. . . .
[H]e proceeded to remove [her] from the steps. And tr[ied] to shove [her] into the car."
Plaintiff stated that the parties had broken off their relationship about a month and a half before November 4. They were "communicating on a daily basis via text," and defendant continued to "show up" at the gym. Plaintiff explained that she went to defendant's home on November 4 because he had called her at work that day and she had "asked him not to call [her] and he said that he would keep calling. That's why [she] went to the house, just to . . . try to stop everything . . . ." Plaintiff added that she was "in a state of shock" because on November 4, defendant "was with someone else already."
Plaintiff described an incident that occurred a few days earlier, when defendant "showed up at the gym" and "was upset with [her] because [she] didn't . . . wish him a happy birthday." Plaintiff then "went to training . . . with [her] personal trainer and [defendant] walked in and told [her] that [she] was disrespectful to him[,]" and she "ignored him." When plaintiff left the gym that day, "as [she] was walking to [her] car [defendant] came storming out [of] the gym running after [her], pushing [her], telling [her] that if he saw [her] with anyone else he would break [her] jaw." Plaintiff stated that "several times" defendant "has choked [her] in the parking lot[,]" and "shoved [her] face . . . ."
Plaintiff also described an incident when defendant "showed up at [her] house" and "started banging on the door." Plaintiff's children "became scared . . . ." Defendant "said if [she] didn't open the door he would kick down the door. [She] didn't want to put [her] kids through that so [she] told him that [she] would open the door on the condition that he wouldn't put his hands on [her]. That [they] would just talk." However, when she let defendant in, she stated that he was "[c]hoking [her], pushing [her]," and again "telling [her] that if he saw [her] with anyone else he would break [her] jaw."
At the conclusion of plaintiff's testimony, defendant moved to dismiss the application. In denying the motion, the judge stated:
I'm satisfied at this point the plaintiff has made out a . . . case . . . with regard to jurisdiction in that they had a . . . dating relationship. And the fact that there w[ere] harassing communications and actions on the part of the defendant.
It's alleged that he came to her place of business, he came to her home. That there w[ere] also physical assaults from the standpoint of pushing and shoving her and other incidents of choking.
I'm satisfied that there w[ere] [prior] physical incidents . . . , as well as on November [fourth], when it's alleged that she was pushed ...