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NJ Supreme Court Hears, Sends Back Slip/Fall Case to Lower Court

After almost seven years, Raymond Marcinczyk’s law suit against the Somerset Police Academy, Raritan Valley Community College, Somerset County and academy administrators is still alive, and has now been ordered by the New Jersey Supreme Court to be reconsidered by the state’s Appellate Division.

Marcinczyk was a recruit in the academy’s training program at the college when he was injured in a slip and fall accident in early 2004 while performing official duties as a recruit. The lawsuit he filed alleged that the staircase he fell on at the college was in a dangerous condition and that the academy reasonably should have known of this and properly supervised recruits, which it failed to do.

Marcinczyk’s claim lost at the Superior Court level (the state’s initial trial court level), with the court ruling that the New Jersey Tort Claim Act barred suits against government entities and officials. Marcinczyk met the same result at the appellate level, with the Appellate Division affirming the lower court’s ruling.

That all changed recently, with state Supreme Court justices ruling, in a narrow 4-3 decision, that the agreement that Marcinczyk signed with the academy as a prerequisite for entrance into the program violated the intent of the Tort Claims Act. That agreement required all recruits to pledge that they would not file suit if they were injured during academy training. The justices found that provision to be against public policy.

The Appellate Division will now reconsider the case in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

Related Resource: www.mycentraljersey.com “Top N.J. court reinstates police recruit’s lawsuit” October 19, 2010

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