On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Docket No. L-5089-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 3, 2011
Before Judges Grall and Skillman.
On January 16, 2007, plaintiff Christopher Gresh suffered serious personal injuries when he fell from scaffolding erected at a residential construction site where he was working. At the time of plaintiff's accident, defendant ABC Building Solutions, L.L.C. (ABC), was constructing a second floor on an existing modular home. Plaintiff was employed by the manufacturer of the modular units, Design Homes, L.L.C., which sent him to the work site to correct a problem with the roof that arose during construction.
On December 18, 2008, plaintiff filed this action against ABC and various John Doe defendants. Plaintiff's wife Nicole Gresh joined in the complaint, asserting a per quod claim.
On March 4, 2009, ABC filed an answer and third-party complaint against a subcontractor on the project, Inside Out Construction, Inc., and the owners of the home, Zvezdan and Branka Teodosic.
Sometime in May 2009, plaintiff filed an amended complaint joining Inside Out and the Teodoscis as direct defendants. This complaint alleged that the Teodosics were responsible for the operation, maintenance and supervision of the jobsite and that their negligence may have caused plaintiff's injuries.
The Teodosics did not file an answer to the amended complaint until November 13, 2009.
On December 4, 2009, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint adding John Construction Company as a direct defendant after discovering it had constructed a scaffold on the site.*fn1
Shortly after receiving their answer, plaintiff served interrogatories and a request for the production of documents upon the Teodosics. In response to an interrogatory which asked whether they intended to assert a claim against any third-party, the Teodosics responded: "As to the possible negligence of others, this is subject to further discovery." In response to another interrogatory which asked whether they contended the accident was "contributed to by the negligence of any other person," the Teodosics responded: "See prior answers; subject to further discovery." The request for documents sought production of:
Any and all contracts and/or agreements existing between Zvesdan and Branka Teodosic and each and every contractor and subcontractor relative to construction, carpentry, masonry and/or painting services at the [subject] premises . . . .
After receiving answers to his discovery requests, plaintiff noticed the Teodosics for the taking of depositions on December 14, 2009, February 10, 2010 and May 27, 2010. However, on each of those occasions, the Teodosics cancelled the depositions either because other newly joined defendants had not yet filed answers or because plaintiff was unavailable to have his deposition taken as a result of surgery and other extensive medical treatment and the Teodosics' attorneys allegedly refused to produce their clients for depositions until after plaintiff was deposed.
Based on delays in the joinder of other potentially liable parties and the conduct of necessary discovery, the trial court entered an order extending the deadline for the ...