In Coastal Outdoor Advertising Group v. Township of Union, No. 10-1283 (3d Cir. Nov. 8, 2010), the plaintiff sought to challenge the defendant’s (now superseded) ordinance prohibiting the erection of billboards. The Third Circuit, noting that this case was “the latest in a burgeoning line of cases in which a billboard company seeks to challenge the constitutionality of a local sign ordinance, otherwise known as the ‘sign code shakedown[,]’” affirmed the District Court of New Jersey’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant because the plaintiff lacked standing to maintain the suit.
If you guessed the latter, then you are in agreement with the Appellate Division’s ruling in Mosteller v. Naiman, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2010). The plaintiff sued the defendant after she removed six trees which she thought were on her property but really were on the plaintiff’s property. The plaintiff argued that he should be awarded the full replacement costs of the trees, which he estimated to be $436,750, while the defendant asserted the proper measure of damages was the difference between the estimated fair market value of the plaintiff’s property before the trees were removed and after they were removed. After the trial court agreed with the defendant’s position, the parties entered a provisional consent judgment in the amount of $20,000, which was apparently based at least in part on the defendant’s expert report that estimated that the reduction in the fair market value of the property as a result of the removal of the trees was between $0 and $20,000. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s application of the diminution-of-market value approach.
The defendant in Oakwood Towers v. Pribytkov, No. A-5417-08 (App. Div. Dec. 23, 2010), was a resident at the plaintiff’s federally subsidized housing complex. Concerned that his apartment was infested with bedbugs, the defendant complained to management about it. Management attempted to have an exterminator inspect the defendant’s apartment, but the defendant would not grant the exterminator access. Eventually, the plaintiff filed a complaint to have the defendant evicted because of the defendant’s alleged violation of the lease agreement and the landlord’s rules and regulations, and the trial court granted the plaintiff that relief. The Appellate Division reversed, however, holding that under the circumstances of the case, the denial of access was not a substantial violation and did not warrant eviction.
It is axiomatic that an appeal can be taken only from a final judgment. In New Jersey, a final judgment is one that disposes of all issues as to all parties. Recently, in Wells Fargo Bank v. Garner, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2010), a published opinion, the Appellate Division dismissed an appeal taken by the defendant in a foreclosure action. Although the trial court had granted summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor, there was not a final judgment because the court had not fixed the amount due under the mortgage.
In September 2009, the Township of Cedar Grove invited bids for a contract to build a synthetic turf softball field. Fredco Landscaping, LLC v. Township of Cedar Grove, No. A-3082-09 (App. Div. October 22, 2010). To pay for the field, Cedar Grove used a $225,000 county grant. One of the conditions of the grant was that the field had to be completed by June 30, 2010. Twelve bidders responded to the bid. Fredco Landscaping, LLC was the lowest bidder; J.A. Alexander was second; The LandTek Group, Inc. was third; and Applied Landscaping Technologies, Inc. was fourth. Cedar Grove decided that Fredco was unqualified and that J.A. Alexander’s bid was non-conforming. Thus, since LandTek was the lowest remaining bidder, Cedar Grove awarded the contract to it. In December 2009 Fredco filed suit seeking that the contract be awarded to it as the lowest responsive, responsible bidder. Applied intervened in the suit, and in February 2010 the trial court upheld the award of the contract to LandTek. Only Applied appealed. Applied asked the trial court to stay its ruling pending its appeal, but the trial court refused to do so. The Appellate Division also denied Applied’s request for a stay.