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NJ UM Claim Barred By Entire Controversy Doctrine.

June 10, 2010

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In a recent unpublished New Jersey appellate decision, the court held that a plaintiff was barred from bringing a claim for UM benefits against his carrier under the entire controversy doctrine. Plaintiff, Harvey Johnson brought suit against defendant, Richard Dominques for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. During the course of that litigation, plaintiff made a statement in court claiming that a " phantom vehicle" contributed to the incident. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found no cause for action, which was affirmed on appeal.
One year after the incident, the plaintiff filed a claim against his insurer, Allstate , for UM benefits. Allstate moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff's claim was barred by the entire controversy doctrine and the motion was granted. On appeal, the court found that Allstate met the burden of demonstrating inexcuseable conduct by the plaintiff, as well as substantial prejudice. The court also held that the plaintiff failed to provide prompt notice of the claim, and that he knew at the time of the accident that the phantom vehicle could be implicated in the collision. As such, the court upheld dismissal of the claim against Allstate.
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Thank you to Heather Aquino for this post.

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