Submitted January 31, 2018
appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division,
Gloucester County, Docket No. L-0489-16.
Capehart & Scatchard, attorneys for appellant (Laura D.
Ruccolo, on the brief).
Lipman, Antonelli, Batt, Gilson, Rothman & Capasso,
attorneys for respondent (Steven L. Rothman, of counsel; Jane
B. Capasso, on the brief).
Judges Fuentes, Koblitz and Manahan.
April 19, 2016, plaintiff Tashicka Hayes filed a civil
complaint against defendant Turnersville Chrysler Jeep
regarding her purchase of a motor vehicle. The complaint was
predicated on three theories of liability: breach of
contract, common law fraud, and consumer fraud in violation
of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to
-206. Plaintiff alleged that she traded in her car and
purchased a used car from defendant. Thereafter, defendant
allegedly contacted plaintiff and asked her to return to the
dealership. Once there, plaintiff claims she was forced to
return the used car and purchase a new, more expensive car.
Plaintiff alleges she purchased the new car at a much higher
price, was unable to afford the payments, and the car was
21, 2016, defendant filed a motion to enforce an arbitration
clause contained in the purchase agreement and dismiss
plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff opposed the motion,
arguing that defendant exerted undue influence upon her to
pressure her to purchase the new vehicle, and engaged in
"unconscionable 'bait and switch' tactics."
She also argued that defendant breached the terms of the
contract related to the original used vehicle by requiring
her to return it. After considering the oral argument from
counsel, the trial court denied defendant's motion to
enforce the arbitration clause.
did not file a direct appeal of the trial court's order
denying enforcement of the arbitration agreement. Instead,
defendant filed a motion for reconsideration under
Rule 4:49-2 months after the court denied the
original motion. The trial court considered and denied
defendant's motion for reconsideration. Defendant now
appeals from the denial of the motion for reconsideration.
appeal requires us to determine whether a trial court's
decision to deny a motion to enforce an arbitration agreement
in a contract to purchase an automobile constitutes a final
order subject to the time restraints for filing a motion for
reconsideration under Rule 4:49-2. We hold that a
motion seeking reconsideration of an order denying or
granting a motion to enforce an arbitration agreement is
not "an interlocutory order [which] may always
be reconsidered, on good cause shown and in the interests of
justice, prior to entry of final judgment." Akhtar
v. JDN Properties at Florham Park, 439 N.J.Super. 391,
399-400 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 221 N.J. 566
(2015) (citing Johnson v. Cyklop Strapping Corp.,
220 N.J.Super. 250, 263-64 (1987)).
to Rule 2:2-3(a)(3), "appeals may be taken to
the Appellate Division as of right . . . from final judgments
of the Superior Court trial divisions[.]" This rule also
provides, "any order either compelling arbitration,
whether the action is dismissed or stayed, or denying
arbitration shall also be deemed a final judgment of the
court for appeal purposes." R. 2:2-3(a)(3). The
Supreme Court made clear in GMAC v. Pitella, 205
N.J. 572, 587 (2011) that "all orders compelling and
denying arbitration shall be deemed final for purposes of
appeal, regardless of whether such orders dispose of all
issues and all parties, and the time for appeal therefrom
starts from the date of the entry of that order." To
dispel any lingering doubts about the need to seek timely
appellate review of such an order, the Court also included
the following admonition: "Because the order shall be
deemed final, a timely appeal on the issue must be taken
then or not at all." Id. at 586 (emphasis
the record is uncontroverted with respect to the following
dispositive facts. On June 21, 2016, defendant filed a motion
to enforce an arbitration clause in the purchase agreement
and dismiss plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff opposed the
motion, arguing that defendant exerted undue influence upon
her to require the purchase of the new vehicle, and engaged
in "unconscionable 'bait and switch'
tactics." Plaintiff's counsel also argued that
defendant breached the terms of a previous contract in which
plaintiff sought to purchase a used vehicle.
trial judge heard oral argument on defendant's motion on
August 12, 2016. After considering the arguments of counsel
and the written submissions, the judge entered an order
denying defendant's motion that same day. Defendant did
not file a direct appeal to this court to challenge the
motion judge's decision. Instead, the parties engaged in
settlement discussions and limited discovery.
to Rule 4:49-2, "a motion for rehearing or
reconsideration seeking to alter or amend a judgment or order
shall be served not later than 2 0 days after service of the
judgment or order upon all parties by the party obtaining
it." On November 21, 2016, 101 calendar days after the
trial court's August 12, 2016 order, defendant filed a
motion seeking reconsideration of the trial court's order
denying its motion to enforce the arbitration agreement.
Although the motion judge ultimately denied defendant's
motion based on what she characterized as a failure by the
parties to reach "a meeting of the minds"