March 28, 2012
PALANI KARUPAIYAN AND RAMYA PALANI, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
LOUISE SIANO AND JAMES SIANO, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Docket No. L-8863-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 20, 2012
Before Judges Fisher and Baxter.
Plaintiff Palani Karupaiyan filed this action,*fn1 alleging he was injured as the result of an accident, on September 7, 2006, involving defendant Louise Siano's automobile. Prior to trial -- in light of representations made by Louise Siano in discovery that her vehicle was being operated on the date in question by her son -- plaintiff was granted leave to join James Siano as a defendant. Following that, summary judgment was granted in favor of defendant Louise Siano.
The action against defendant James Siano was later tried to a jury, which determined that plaintiff failed to prove he sustained an injury that was proximately caused by the September 7, 2006 accident. Plaintiff unsuccessfully moved for a new trial and his attorney successfully moved to be relieved as counsel.
Plaintiff appeals, arguing in a pro se brief, that (1) the trial judge erred in denying his motion for a new trial because there was medical evidence to support plaintiff's claim that his injuries were proximately caused by the accident; (2) the verdict was based on "fraudulent" testimony regarding the identity of the Siano vehicle's operator; (3) the trial judge erred when he found a lack of nexus between plaintiff's claim for lost wages and the accident and, therefore, mistakenly excluded the alleged lost wages as an element of plaintiff's damages; (4) plaintiff was prejudiced by the absence of an interpreter during a portion of defendant James Siano's direct testimony; (5) the trial judge erred in admitting a black-and- white photograph of the Siano vehicle as it appeared after the accident; and (6) the motion judge erred in entering summary judgment in favor of defendant Louise Siano. We find no merit in these arguments.
In rejecting plaintiff's first point, we discern from the pro se brief that plaintiff's consternation stems from the fact that defendant James Siano admitted liability but the jury nevertheless determined that any injuries were not proximately caused by his negligence. Plaintiff's claim that the back pain to which he testified, and the bulging discs to which his expert testified, were caused by the accident were disputed by defendant, who offered medical testimony that plaintiff's condition was not caused by the accident but was degenerative and the result of the aging process. The jury was free to decide these disputed issues based upon evidence it found credible and persuasive. Our role is not to second guess the resolution of such disputed matters by the factfinder. See, e.g., Carrino v. Novotny, 78 N.J. 355, 365-66 (1979).
In his fourth point, plaintiff argues he was prejudiced by the absence of the interpreter that either he, his wife, or both, required to understand what was being said in the courtroom. We reject this because, as best as can be determined from the transcript, the absence of the interpreter was not mentioned by anyone but the judge shortly after the commencement of the direct examination of defendant James Siano.*fn2 Plaintiff's counsel did not object to the continuation of the proceedings in the interpreter's absence and plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that any testimony taken before the interpreter arrived was so essential that fundamental fairness warranted the granting of relief as a result of the oversight. In short, it was incumbent on plaintiff to bring this circumstance to the trial judge's attention as it occurred and his failure to do so precludes him from arguing a deprivation of any rights that may have been infringed at this late date. R. 2:10-2.
Plaintiff's sixth argument is that the motion judge erred in granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Louise Siano. Plaintiff did not oppose that motion and, therefore, may not now be heard to quarrel with the entry of that order. See Infante v. Gottesman, 233 N.J. Super. 310, 318-19 (App. Div. 1989).
All plaintiffs' arguments are of insufficient merit to warrant any further discussion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).