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Pollock v. Coachman Manor, LLC

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 28, 2013

CHRISTINE POLLOCK, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
COACHMAN MANOR, LLC; SIYATA ASSOCIATES, LLC, Defendants-Respondents, and JOSEPH I. KAZARNOVSKY, Defendant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued March 19, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Docket No. L-2165-10.

Daniel B. Zonies argued the cause for appellant Christine Pollock.

William J. Marconi argued the cause for respondents Coachman Manor, LLC and Siyata Associates, LLC (Duncan MacDonald & Herforth, attorneys; Mr. Marconi, on the brief).

Before Judges Kennedy and Mantineo.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiff appeals from the grant of summary judgment dismissing her personal injury complaint against defendants Coachman Manor, LLC, and Siyata Associates, LLC, entities that owned the apartment complex where plaintiff lived (collectively referred to as "defendant landlord"). We affirm.

I.

Our review of a motion court order granting or denying summary judgment is de novo, and we apply the same standard as the motion court in determining whether there are any genuinely disputed issues of material fact sufficient to warrant resolution of the disputed issues by the trier of fact. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Boylan, 307 N.J.Super. 162, 167 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 154 N.J. 608 (1998). Our analysis requires that we first determine whether the moving party has demonstrated that there are no genuine disputes as to material facts, and then we decide "whether the motion judge's application of the law was correct." Atl. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Hillside Bottling Co., 387 N.J.Super. 224, 230-31 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 189 N.J. 104 (2006). In so doing, we view the evidence "in the light most favorable to the part[y] opposing summary judgment." Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 523 (1995). We accord no special deference to the motion judge's conclusions on issues of law. Zabilowicz v. Kelsey, 200 N.J. 507, 512 (2009).

Following are the salient facts viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff. Plaintiff leased an apartment from defendant landlord in March 2006 and continued to reside there at all times relevant to the events described in this opinion. The apartment was equipped with a gas stove and oven.

In late March or early April 2006, plaintiff called the defendant landlord to come to the apartment because plaintiff's mother, while visiting, reported smelling gas. Defendant landlord sent a worker to plaintiff's apartment, and that worker "jiggled the knobs" on the oven and the gas smell disappeared.

Then, in 2007, plaintiff noticed that the burners on the stove failed to ignite, and she called defendant landlord. A maintenance worker again went to plaintiff's apartment, and lit the pilot light on the stove, which solved the problem. Plaintiff never had any other problems with either the stove or the oven until February 8, 2009.

On that date, plaintiff turned the knob on her oven to the setting for 350 degrees and waited five minutes to allow the oven to heat. Then, as she opened the oven door to place an item in to be cooked, flames were expelled from ...


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