April 11, 2018
appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division,
Monmouth County, Docket Nos. L-1852-16 and L-1173-16.
J. Rescinio argued the cause for appellant (Law Offices of
Albert J. Rescinio, LLC, attorneys; Jeff Thakker, of counsel
and on the brief; Albert J. Rescinio, on the brief).
J. Levin argued the cause for respondents Critter Control of
New Jersey, Kerwin, Inc. d/b/a Critter Control of New Jersey,
Robert McDonough and Evan Windholz (Levin Cyphers, attorneys;
Harry J. Levin, on the brief).
Respondents Madison Carlstrom, Matthew Hill and Simplicity
Farms, have not filed a brief.
Judges Fuentes, Manahan, and Suter.
consolidate these two appeals for the purpose of this
opinion. In Goldman v. Critter Control of New
Jersey, A-1392-16 (Critter Control), plaintiff
Stuart Goldman appeals from the September 6, 2016 order that
dismissed with prejudice the complaint he filed against
defendants Critter Control of New Jersey, Kewin, Inc. d/b/a
Critter Control of New Jersey, Robert McDonough and Evan
Windholz (Critter Control defendants). In this complaint,
plaintiff sought civil penalties under the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), N.J.S.A. 4:22-11.1 to -60.
Plaintiff also appeals from the November 4, 2016 order that
denied reconsideration and his motion to amend the complaint.
Goldman v. Carlstrom, Hill, and Simplicity Farms,
A-3906-16 (Simplicity Farms), plaintiff appeals from
the April 19, 2017 order that dismissed his complaint with
prejudice against defendants Madison Carlstrom, Matthew Hill
and Simplicity Farms (Simplicity Farm defendants) and denied
his motion to file a second amended complaint. We consolidate
these appeals because plaintiff sought statutory penalties
under N.J.S.A. 4:22-26 in both complaints based on
allegations of animal cruelty against defendants and both
complaints were dismissed for lack of standing. The factual
allegations are based on plaintiff's complaints. We
affirm the orders for reasons that follow.
is the former chief humane law enforcement officer for the
Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals (Monmouth SPCA). He also is a trustee for two
non-profit animal welfare organizations.
Critter Control, plaintiff alleged that in May 2015,
he learned from a resident of Matawan that Critter Control
defendants trapped a female adult raccoon and removed it from
the roof of a house. Although Critter Control defendants
claimed the raccoon was not lactating, a few days later baby
raccoons were discovered in the gutters of the same house.
Plaintiff alleged the baby raccoons had gone without
sustenance for a week.
filed a complaint "by way of . . . qui tarn"
against Critter Control defendants, seeking "damages and
civil penalties" for violations of N.J.S.A. 4:22-26 for
"animal cruelty, animal abuse, negligence, recklessness,
[and] negligent infliction of emotional distress." He
alleged that Critter Control defendants violated N.J.S.A.
4:22-26(a)(4) by failing, "as the owner or a person
otherwise charged with the care of a living animal or
creature, to provide the living animal or creature with
necessary care, or otherwise cause or procure such an act to
person who violates that statute "[s]hall forfeit and
pay a sum" according to a schedule set forth in the
to be sued for and recovered, with costs, in a civil action
by any person in the name of the New Jersey Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or a county society
for the prevention of cruelty to animals, as appropriate, or,
in the name of the municipality if brought by a certified
animal control officer or animal cruelty investigator.
[N.J.S.A. 4:22-26 (emphasis added).]
for a violation of N.J.S.A. 4:22-26(a)(4) range from $500 to
$2000. Plaintiff's complaint demanded compensatory and
consequential damages, statutory civil penalties, punitive
damages and attorney's fees.
Control defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint,
asserting that plaintiff lacked standing. On September 6,
2016, the trial court granted their motion and dismissed the
complaint with prejudice. The statute was "plain and
unambiguous, " according to the trial court's rider
to its order, providing that "only select organizations,
not individuals, may pursue a civil remedy under the
statute." Because plaintiff brought the complaint
"in his individual name, not in the name of the [New
Jersey] SPCA, a county society for the prevention of animals,
or Monmouth County, " plaintiff lacked standing to
proceed with the lawsuit.
reconsideration motion, captioned as "Stuart Goldman in
the name of the Monmouth [SPCA], " also asked to amend
the complaint to show that he was filing it in the name of
the Monmouth SPCA. He certified that the Monmouth ...