Appellate Court Decision Reinforces Importance that All Decisions be Placed on the Record with Supporting Documents and Comments Noted

05.21.15

Category: New Jersey

In this complicated appeal, an employee sought to have a lower court decision to dismiss his motion to restore overturned and his matter reinstated.

The employee filed a workers’ compensation claim for injury on October 28, 2008. The employer filed a procedural motion to dismiss the claim because it was too vague. The claim was dismissed on August 26, 2009 with very little information placed on the record by the sitting judge. The employee filed an amended claim petition to fix the problems alleged by the judge. On March 8, 2010, the employee filed a motion to restore the claim.

Several hearings and multiple pre-trial/motion listings took place without any restoration of the claim. The matter was ultimately transferred to another judge, who denied employee’s motion on March 14, 2014, four years after it was filed. The employee had in the meantime suffered a non-work related injury in 2011, which rendered him incompetent and eventually he lost his life.

The Appellate Court basically decided that the underlying Court failed its duty to create a proper record of all proceedings of the decision in this matter. The Court noted, the judge “lost sight” of the “need to make a clear record when ruling on motions. It is impossible to discern from this record whether this matter would have been resolved before petitioner’s (employee’s) fatal accident absent the unjustifiable delay and inexplicable failure to reinstate petitioner’s claim petition.” The order for dismissal was reversed and the claim was reinstated.

The Appellate Court noted the complete lack of any reasonable record which could have supported the lower Court’s decision to first dismiss the claim and then to continue to deny restoration.

Comment: This shows that if there is any question as to what is taking place, defense counsel should request that any decision be placed on the record with all supporting documentation and any comments noted.

For more information please contact Robert R. Hanneman Jr. at rhanneman@wglaw.com or 856.779.7010.

Media Contacts

Lexi Burchmore
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lburchmore@wglaw.com

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