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Karin Kovalicky v. Bryan Marshall

November 15, 2012

KARIN KOVALICKY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BRYAN MARSHALL, KAY MARSHALL, DENNIS SUGAR, INDIVIDUALLY AND TRADING AS SUGAR SWEET LANDSCAPING, HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY AND CITIZENS INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Docket No. L-3199-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 13, 2012

Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and St. John.

Plaintiff Karin Kovalicky appeals from a March 21, 2011 order of the Law Division denying her request for defendants Bryan Marshall, Kay Marshall, Hanover Insurance and Citizens Insurance Company of America to pay plaintiff the portion of a November 18, 2009 binding arbitration award assessed against defendant Dennis Sugar, and further dismissing her complaint with prejudice. Following our review of the arguments advanced on appeal, in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

I.

On April 30, 2006, plaintiff visited the Marshall defendants residence where she tumbled down a stairway. Plaintiff alleged that the condition of the stairway, constructed by defendant Sugar, was dangerous and represented an unreasonable risk of harm and hazardous condition. Plaintiff further alleged that the Marshall defendants were contributorily negligent to her injury and failed to exercise the proper duty of care.

The parties agreed to submit their matter to binding arbitration. The arbitrator determined the comparative negligence allocation to be such that plaintiff was 37.5% responsible and defendants were 62.5% responsible. Of this 62.5% responsibility, the arbitrator determined that the Marshall defendants were 62.5% (39.06% of total) responsible, while defendant Sugar was responsible for 37.5% (23.44% of total).

The arbitrator awarded plaintiff $106,667 in damages. The award was reduced in conformity with the allocation of contributory negligence to $66,667 due from defendants. The Marshall defendants were responsible for 62.5% of this award, $41,667, and defendant Sugar was responsible for 37.5%, $25,000. Plaintiff collected her award due from the Marshall defendants. A default was entered against defendant Sugar.

Plaintiff then instituted litigations in the Superior Court to compel the Marshall defendants to pay the remaining $25,000 owed by defendant Sugar pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.3. The trial court dismissed plaintiff's requested relief with prejudice. This appeal ensued.

II.

Plaintiff raises the following argument for our consideration on appeal:

THE DEFENDANTS, MARSHALL, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE AWARD LEVIED AGAINST DEFENDANT, SUGAR, PURSUANT TO THE JOINT AND SEVERAL TORTFEASOR ACT.

We note that "[a] trial court's interpretation of the law and the legal consequences that flow from established facts are not entitled to any special deference." Manalapan Realty v. ...


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