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Connolly v. Town of Belvidere

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 25, 2013

KAREN CONNOLLY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
TOWN OF BELVIDERE, Defendant, and COUNTY OF WARREN, Defendant-Respondent

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 1, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Warren County, Docket No. L-0428-09.

William E. Mandry, attorney for appellant.

Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader, L.L.C., attorneys for respondent (Veronica P. Hallett, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Reisner and Carroll.

PER CURIAM

In this personal injury lawsuit, plaintiff Karen Connolly appeals from a June 29, 2012 Law Division order, granting summary judgment in favor of her employer, defendant Warren County (County). For the reasons that follow, we affirm the grant of summary judgment and order that the complaint be transferred to the Division of Workers' Compensation.

I

We review a trial court's decision granting summary judgment de novo, employing the same standard used by the trial court. See Liberty Surplus Ins. Corp. v. Nowell Amoroso, P.A., 189 N.J. 436, 445-46 (2007). We determine whether there are material facts in dispute and, if not, whether the undisputed facts, viewed most favorably to the non-moving party, entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Ibid.; see Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 540 (1995).

On a summary judgment motion, the moving party is required to file a statement of undisputed material facts, supported with citations to evidence in the record. R. 4:46-2(a). The opponent must respond with a statement admitting or denying each alleged undisputed fact, with citations to the record. R. 4:46-2(b). The opponent is bound, as to those facts that it either admits or fails to deny with a citation to legally competent evidence in the motion record. Ibid.; see Polzo v. Essex Cnty., 196 N.J. 569, 586 (2008). We have reviewed the record with those standards in mind.

On August 7, 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint against the County and the Town of Belvidere, alleging that on August 24, 2007, she slipped and fell on a defective sidewalk at 199 Hardwick Street in Belvidere. The County filed an answer admitting that it owned the property, and asserting several defenses.

At her November 3, 2011 deposition, plaintiff testified that she was employed by the County as a case worker for the board of social services, which was located at "the courthouse annex in Belvidere." She also testified that the courthouse annex was part of the county library building. Plaintiff testified that the fall occurred during her work day and, when she fell, she was returning from her lunch break. She testified that the fall occurred next to the side door of the library building, located at 199 Hardwick Avenue.[1]

Plaintiff testified that prior to her fall she left the annex "[t]o go get lunch." She testified that at "[a]round 11:30 a.m., " she went to a nearby deli for lunch, and she did not run any other errands during her lunch period. Plaintiff stated that she had worked for the County for about twenty-eight years, and her office was always in the courthouse annex. However, she "didn't always go out that door, the side door, which is where I fell." She would "usually go through the library and out the front" door. However, on this day, she left through the side door. On her way back from lunch, she crossed the street at the corner of Hardwick and Front ...


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