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Wreden v. Township of Lafayette

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 17, 2014

HERBERT WREDEN and KAREN WREDEN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF LAFAYETTE, Defendant-Respondent, and SNOOK'S EXCAVATING, INC., and FINELLI CONSULTING ENGINEERS, INC., Defendants

Argued June 4, 2014.

Approved for Publication June 17, 2014.

Page 682

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County, Docket No. L-460-11.

Lisa Nichole Roskos argued the cause for appellants ( Andrew M. Wubbenhorst, LLC, attorneys; Ms. Roskos, on the briefs).

Roy E. Kurnos argued the cause for respondent ( Belsole and Kurnos, LLC, attorneys; Mr. Kurnos, on the brief).

Before Judges FUENTES, FASCIALE and HAAS. The opinion of the court was delivered by HAAS, J.A.D.

OPINION

Page 683

[436 N.J.Super. 120] HAAS, J.A.D.

Plaintiffs appeal from a February 8, 2012 Law Division order dismissing their complaint against defendant Township of Lafayette (the Township), and the court's April 23, 2012 order denying their motion to amend their complaint to add an inverse condemnation claim against the Township. We reverse and remand.

We discern the following facts from the face of plaintiffs' June 28, 2011 complaint, giving plaintiffs the benefit of all reasonable factual inferences. Printing Mart-Morristown v. Sharp Elecs. Corp., 116 N.J. 739, 746, 563 A.2d 31 (1989). Plaintiffs own property in the Township, where they maintain their home, and a " horse barn and fields for grazing and other uses relating to the boarding of horses." In 2007, the Township contracted with defendants Finelli Consulting Engineers, Inc. (Finelli) and Snook's Excavating, Inc. (Snook's) " to design and construct a retaining wall and provide water drainage along [a road] adjacent to Plaintiffs' property." Plaintiffs alleged

[436 N.J.Super. 121] [t]he storm water drainage from the roadway and adjacent properties was designed in such a way as to direct water to come onto Plaintiffs' property, causing flooding conditions about Plaintiffs' land and structures, onto Plaintiffs' septic field, and in such a manner so as to cause damage to Plaintiffs' property and inhibit Plaintiffs' use of same.

Plaintiffs asserted " [t]he retaining wall designed and constructed by Defendants was defectively engineered and built, lacked appropriate foundation and support, [and] included defective materials and workmanship."

On January 28, 2008, plaintiffs served a Notice of Tort Claim upon the Township. In pertinent part, the notice stated:

C. The date, place and other circumstances of the occurrence which gave rise to the claim asserted is that the Township of Lafayette Road Department on or about November 12, 2007 undertook the construction of a retaining wall and drainage structures within the right of way of [a road], adjacent to the Claimant's property . . ., which increase the volume of stormwater runoff and further concentrate and accelerate the flow of stormwater runoff from [the road] onto the Claimant's property without the benefit of an easement or legal right to so discharge stormwater runoff onto the Claimant's property.
D. A general description of the injury, damage or loss incurred so far is the unauthorized diversion of stormwater runoff by means of drainage structures onto the Claimant's property causing stormwater related damage and flooding of Claimant's property and attendant loss of property ...

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