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Veale-Middleton v. Artzberger

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 24, 2013

CAROL R. VEALE-MIDDLETON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
RUTH ARTZBERGER, GEORGE W. ARTZBERGER and TROPICAL POOL SERVICE & REPAIRS, L.L.C., Defendants-Respondents, and MULTI PHASE CONTRACTING and ANDY UJHELYI, Defendants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 4, 2012.

Before Judges Alvarez, Waugh and St. John.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. DC-6224-09.

Matthew W. Ritter argued the cause for appellant (The Ritter Law Office, L.L.C., attorneys; Mr. Ritter, on the brief).

Respondents have not filed a brief.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiff Carol R. Veale-Middleton appeals the December 20, 2011 order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's claims under the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to -184, and the January 26, 2012 order denying her motion for a full refund. We affirm.

I.

We briefly summarize the relevant procedural history and the facts based on the record before us.

Defendant Tropical Pool Service and Repairs, L.L.C. entered into a contract with plaintiff to install an in-ground swimming pool with a four-foot-wide concrete patio apron. The parties' written agreement specified a contract price of $20, 000, as well as details of the work to be performed. Its provisions included the following statement: "All material is guaranteed to be as specified. All work to be completed in a workmanlike manner according to standard practices." Tropical installed the pool and hired subcontractor Andy Ujhelyi of Multi Phase Contracting to pour the concrete patio. Tropical completed the work and received full payment of $20, 000 from Veale-Middleton.

Within a year of installation, settling of the underlying ground caused the patio to crack and "disintegrate." Ujhelyi later stated in his answer to Veale-Middleton's complaint that "under normal circumstances" he compacts the soil before he pours concrete. On this occasion, however, George Artzberger told him not to compact the soil because the pool, which had been installed by that point, would have been damaged by compression of the earth around it.

After the concrete failed, Veale-Middleton and her husband repeatedly asked defendants to fix it, asserting they were responsible under the warranty language of the contract. Defendants were unresponsive. The Middletons eventually hired a different contractor for $3400 to repair the concrete.

On February 26, 2010, plaintiff, acting pro se, filed a complaint against defendants Ruth and George Artzberger, seeking $3400 and costs. The Artzbergers filed an answer, including a third-party complaint that identified Andy Ujhelyi and Multi Phase Contracting as bearing ...


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