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Katharine Lai v. Metuchen Borough

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


December 26, 2012

KATHARINE LAI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
METUCHEN BOROUGH, WILLIAM FEINGOLD, HIGHLAND PARK BOROUGH, VICTORIA BRITTON, TIM COYLE, SCOTT LUTHMAN, PMA INSURANCE GROUP, INC., AND LORI MARSHALL, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Docket No. L-1607-11.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 11, 2012

Before Judges Alvarez and Waugh.

Plaintiff Katharine Lai appeals the Law Division's orders dismissing her complaint for insufficiency of service of process, R. 4:6-2(d), and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, R. 4:6-2(e).

Having reviewed the arguments raised on appeal with respect to the adequacy of service of process, we find them to be without merit and not warranting discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We affirm as to that issue.

Our review of the record convinces us that Lai's complaint was inarticulately pled, which, at the very least, would require repleading. R. 4:6-4(a). Consequently, we overlook the motion judge's failure to satisfy the requirement that the complaint be "searched in depth and with liberality to determine whether a cause of action can be gleaned even from an obscure statement," Seidenberg v. Summit Bank, 348 N.J. Super. 243, 250 (App. Div. 2002) (citing Printing Mart-Morristown v. Sharp Elecs. Corp., 116 N.J. 739, 746 (1989)), as well as his failure to comply with Rule 1:7-4(a) by stating his reasons for granting the dismissal motions. We affirm the dismissal of the complaint for deficient pleading.

However, dismissals for inadequacy of service of process and failure to state a claim are generally without prejudice because they are not adjudications on the merits of a claim. See Hoffman v. Hampshire Labs, Inc., 405 N.J. Super. 105, 116 (App. Div. 2009); Watkins v. Resorts Int'l Hotel & Casino, Inc., 124 N.J. 398, 416 (1991). Consequently, we affirm the orders of dismissal, but modify them to be without prejudice.

Lai may, if she wishes to do so, replead her causes of action in a clearer manner. In the event the motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim are refiled, the judge will be expected to comply with the requirements outlined above. Lai must also follow the applicable rules with respect to the service of process.

Affirmed as modified.

20121226

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