Submitted: February 3, 2015.
Approved for Publication February 23, 2015.
On appeal from interlocutory orders of Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-8101-12.
Blume, Donnelly, Fried, Forte, Zerres, & Molinari, P.C., attorneys for appellant ( John W. Gregorek, on the brief).
Respondents have not filed briefs.
Before Judges FISHER, NUGENT, and ACCURSO. The opinion of the court was delivered by NUGENT, J.A.D.
[439 N.J.Super. 376] NUGENT, J.A.D.
On leave granted, plaintiff Telma Moraes appeals from the Law Division orders that denied her motion to consolidate her two personal injury actions and her motion for reconsideration, both unopposed. The trial court denied plaintiff's consolidation motion on a record that disclosed no significant or complex liability issue in either action, overlooked that trying the actions separately could result in inconsistent verdicts, and provided no appropriate explanation for its decision. For those reasons, we conclude the court misapplied its discretion by denying the motion to consolidate the two actions. Accordingly, we reverse and remand to the trial court to consolidate the cases for discovery and trial.
Plaintiff was injured in a November 11, 2011 accident when an oncoming car crossed the road's center line into plaintiff's lane of travel and struck the car plaintiff was driving; facts the defendant driver admitted in her interrogatory answers. According to plaintiff's medical providers, the injuries plaintiff sustained in the accident included bulging discs and a herniated disc in her cervical spine, a bulging disc in her lumbar spine, and an injury to her left knee. Seeking compensation for her injuries, plaintiff commenced a personal injury action by filing a complaint on November 12, 2012.
[439 N.J.Super. 377] Less than a year later, on September 26, 2013, plaintiff was injured in a second accident when a car struck the rear of the car she was driving. According to her primary medical provider, as a result of the September 2013 accident she suffered, among other injuries, bulging discs and a herniated disc in her cervical spine, bulging discs in her lumbar spine, and aggravations of her previous cervical and lumbar injuries. Seeking compensation for her injuries, plaintiff commenced a personal injury action by filing a complaint on January 21, 2014.
The following month, plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate the actions. The motion was unopposed. At that time,
plaintiff did not have a medical report comparing the injuries plaintiff sustained in the two accidents. The court denied the motion, explaining at the bottom of the ...