August 16, 2011
COSTANZA E. CAMPAGNA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
GERARD J. CHINSOLO, KELLY A. JULIAN, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Docket No. L-3032-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued August 9, 2011
Before Judges Waugh and Koblitz.
Plaintiff Costanza E. Campagna appeals the order of the Law Division denying her motion to reinstate her personal injury action against defendants Gerald J. Chinsolo and Kelly A. Julian. We reverse.
Campagna's complaint was filed on July 18, 2007. It was dismissed without prejudice for failure to answer interrogatories on September 3, 2008. Defendants subsequently moved for dismissal with prejudice, but withdrew the motion after discovery was provided.
On November 1, 2010, Campagna moved to restore her complaint. Defendants did not oppose the application, although they did request that additional time be allowed for discovery. The motion judge denied the motion on December 6, 2010. This appeal followed.
In his certification in support of the motion to restore, Campagna's new counsel explained at some length the reasons for the delay in the filing of the motion to restore. Campagna's prior attorney, Nicholas Manzi, had neglected the case and been suspended from practicing law by the time the motion to restore was filed.*fn2 Campagna filed a certification outlining her unsuccessful efforts to obtain information from her prior attorney and his failure to keep her informed of the status of her case. Despite that information, the motion judge denied the unopposed motion with a notation on the order that reinstatement required "exceptional circumstances."
The decision whether to grant or deny a motion to reinstate a complaint is generally left to the sound discretion of the motion judge. Sullivan v. Coverings & Installation, Inc., 403 N.J. Super. 86, 93 (App. Div. 2008) (citing Cooper v. Consol. Rail Corp., 391 N.J. Super. 17, 22-23 (App. Div. 2007)). We are satisfied that the motion judge clearly abused his discretion in denying Campagna's unopposed motion to reinstate in light of the facts set forth in the certifications filed in support of the motion.
The order of dismissal is reversed and the matter is remanded to the Law Division for entry of an order (1) restoring the complaint, (2) requiring Campagna to submit HIPPA-compliant medical releases to defendants within ten days of the date of the order of reinstatement, and (3) extending discovery for 120 days from the date of that order.
Reversed and remanded.