WILLIAM E. BOOS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
LAURA BESSEN NICHTBERGER,  Defendant, and CARFAX, INC., Defendant-Respondent.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued October 1, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket No. DC-4593-12.
H. Benjamin Sharlin argued the cause for appellant (Maselli Warren, P.C., attorneys; Paul J. Maselli, of counsel and on the brief; Mr. Sharlin, on the brief).
Khaled J. Klele argued the cause for respondent (Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti, LLP, attorneys; Mr. Klele, of counsel and on the brief; Kellen F. Murphy, on the brief).
Before Judges Messano, Sabatino, and Rothstadt.
Plaintiff William Boos appeals the Special Civil Part's entry of summary judgment, dismissing his negligence action against defendant Carfax, Inc. ("Carfax"). Plaintiff claimed that Carfax negligently disseminated a misleading report about his automobile. Plaintiff contends that, as a result of Carfax's alleged mischaracterization of the damage to his car in a motor vehicle accident, he received a reduced trade-in value for the vehicle from a car dealership. Although the motion judge recited numerous reasons for granting Carfax summary judgment, we affirm his order on the sole basis that plaintiff failed to present a genuine issue of material fact showing that Carfax was a proximate cause of his loss.
The pertinent facts are relatively uncomplicated. We summarize them in a light most favorable to plaintiff as the non-moving party. Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 540 (1995).
On April 6, 2011, plaintiff's wife was driving his 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV in Lawrence Township when she was rear-ended by Laura Bessen Nichtberger's vehicle while stopped in traffic. According to the report of the police officer who investigated the accident, the Cadillac "had damage to the rear bumper from the initial impact. No damage was visible on the front of [the] vehicle[.]"
The police report indicated that the collision involved three vehicles. The report stated that the third vehicle, driven by Nichtberger, hit the second vehicle, driven by plaintiff's wife, after Nichtberger had apparently misjudged the distance in front of her. When the Cadillac was hit in the rear, the force of the collision apparently caused the Cadillac to push forward into the rear of the first vehicle, driven by Alison Chmielewski. According to the police report, Chmielewski's vehicle was not damaged, while Nichtberger's car sustained damage to the front bumper and grille.
Plaintiff disputes that his Cadillac ever came into contact with Chmielewski's vehicle. He also contends that the damage to his rear bumper was minimal, necessitating only repairs to the rear bumper cover and a trailer hitch at an estimated cost of $1, 273.62.
Carfax is a data compilation service that provides vehicle history information for parties looking to buy and sell used cars and trucks. A typical Carfax vehicle history report may include title information, flood damage history, odometer readings, ...