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Failure to Comply with Strict New Jersey Appellate Rules Result in Dismissal of Cross-Appeal

By on May 26, 2017 in Court Rulings with 0 Comments

While on the state trial court level, our New Jersey trial court judges tend to be lenient in enforcing rules concerning motion practice and briefing (as well as many of the rules of civil procedure), the Appellate Division judges can be much more exacting in enforcing their rules concerning the submission of briefs. In the published decision of Noren v. Heartland Payment Systems, 449 N.J. Super. 193 (App. Div. 2017), the defendant Heartland Payment Systems (“Heartland”) learned the hard way that its failure to comply with the Appellate Division briefing rules resulted in a dismissal of its cross-appeal.

Heartland had filed a cross-appeal in this matter but failed to include in the appendix to its brief all items that were submitted to the trial court on the summary judgment motion or even a statement of the items submitted. It argued to the court that the pertinent court rule (R. 2:6-1(a)(1)) requiring these items only applied if the appeal was from a grant of a summary judgment motion. Because its cross-appeal was from a denial of a summary judgment, it contended that this rule did not apply.

The Appellate Division rejected this argument, finding this interpretation of this rule as too literal. The Court found that the rule was obviously intended to identify for the appellate court those documents which had been presented to the trial court, regardless of how the motion was decided. In deciding how to rule on an appeal involving a summary judgment order, the appellate court is limited to an examination of the original summary judgment records.

If the appellate court was not provided the same information provided to the trial court, it might “stray” from its function as a reviewing court and consider material never presented to the trial judge. Thus, the Appellate Division emphasized that this rule should not be read literally and that the phrase “from a summary judgment” in this rule should be taken to mean “from the disposition of a summary judgment motion.”

This matter was submitted as one for reconsideration before the Appellate Division. The Court dismissed Heartland’s cross-appeal in an unpublished decision and, in this published decision, affirmed that dismissal by denying this motion for reconsideration of its decision.

This case points out the importance in strictly complying with New Jersey state appellate rules in submitting briefs and appendices. While trial court judges often provide much leeway and overlook procedural deficiencies, as demonstrated by this case, the Appellate Division enforces its rules much more stringently.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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