June 8, 2012
MERRICK WILSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
THE WILLIAMS COMPANIES, INC., D/B/A TRANSCONTINENTAL GAS PIPE LINE CORPORATION, AND HENKELS & MCCOY, INC., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket No. L-2847-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted May 21, 2012
Before Judges Grall, Alvarez and Skillman.
Plaintiff appeals from a summary judgment, which dismissed his complaint against defendants, The Williams Companies, Inc., d/b/a Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation (Transco), and its contractor, Henkels & McCoy, Inc., alleging that defendants trespassed upon and caused damage to his property when, in compliance with a federal mandate, they replaced an underground natural gas pipeline running within three easements and right- of-ways appurtenant to his property. Plaintiff presents the following arguments in support of his appeal:
I. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW AND/OR ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION DESPITE THERE BEING GENUINE ISSUES OF MATERIAL FACTS IN DISPUTE.
II. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW AND/OR ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY FAILING TO COMPENSATE THE PROPERTY OWNER FOR THE TEMPORARY INTERFERENCE WITH THE OWNER'S USE OF HIS PROPERTY.
III. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW AND/OR ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY FAILING TO UPHOLD THE CONTRACTUAL TERMS OF THE RIGHT OF WAY AGREEMENT AND SUPPLEMENTAL RIGHT OF WAY AGREEMENTS REQUIRING PAYMENT FOR DAMAGES AND TRESPASS BEYOND THE LIMITS OF THE RIGHT OF WAY.
IV. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW AND/OR ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY FAILING TO ALLOW FOR THE AMENDMENT OF THE COMPLAINT TO CONFORM TO THE EVIDENCE.
V. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW AND/OR ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT BASED UPON THE CONCLUSION THAT FEDERALLY MANDATED IMPROVEMENTS TO THE RIGHT OF WAY PRECLUDE A PROPERTY OWNER FROM
RECEIVING JUST COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGES.
We reject these arguments substantially for the reasons set forth in Judge Sumners' June 14, 2011 oral opinion granting defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's arguments do not warrant any additional discussion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We only reiterate the trial court's conclusion that plaintiff did not present any competent evidence in opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment that the replacement of the natural gas pipeline within the easements granted to Transco by plaintiff's predecessor in title caused any damage to plaintiff's property that was compensable under the terms of the agreements creating the easements.
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