Fullerton Beck attorney Verne Pedro won summary judgment in New Jersey Superior Court in Essex County in an insurance agent negligence case stemming from an underlying premises liability action. Verne’s approach to the matter led to an early resolution, which saved the firm’s client the time and expense of protracted litigation.
The insurer filed a declaratory judgment action against the insured homeowner, arguing that the homeowner was not covered due to material misrepresentations in the insurance application. In turn, the homeowner impleaded Fullerton Beck’s client, the insurance agent who procured the insurance policy, asserting that any misrepresentations in the application were due to the agent’s negligent or fraudulent conduct when completing the application.
Verne moved to dismiss the homeowner’s complaint under New Jersey statute § 2A:53A-27, Affidavit of Merit statute. The statute bars a professional malpractice lawsuit unless it is supported with an affidavit from a licensed professional attesting that the defendant’s actions deviated from a controlling standard of care. Failure to provide an affidavit within 60 days of the filing of the defendant’s answer (or 120 days for good cause) is deemed a failure to state a cause of action.
The homeowner chose not to serve an affidavit of merit, arguing instead that none is required because at least some of the claims emanate from simple negligence and not a specific standard of care. The court however, disagreed and granted Fullerton Beck’s summary judgment motion, dismissing the case in its entirety.