Ryan J. Gaffney recently obtained Summary Judgment before the New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen Vicinage, on an issue of a “culpably uninsured” plaintiff. In his application of the defense, Mr. Gaffney successfully argued that the plaintiff failed to maintain sufficient New Jersey insurance coverage, and that his claims for personal injuries were therefore statutorily barred.
In the matter of Parra v. Montalvo, the plaintiff alleged personal injuries following a motor vehicle accident which occurred in Teaneck, New Jersey. During his deposition, the plaintiff admitted that he did not carry a New Jersey insurance policy, despite his longtime residence in the state. The “culpably uninsured” rule is a portion of New Jersey’s “no-fault” insurance scheme. The text of the statute penalizes New Jersey residents that do not carry any motor vehicle insurance coverage by barring claims for personal injuries. Courts have interpreted this language to include those that garage motor vehicles in New Jersey but purchase insufficient, but often cheaper, out-of-state automobile insurance coverage. This statute was the basis of Mr. Gaffney’s application.
The plaintiff filed an opposition, attempting to retract his deposition testimony regarding residence. At oral argument, however, Mr. Gaffney successfully persuaded the Law Division Judge that the attempted retraction should be disregarded under the “sham affidavit” doctrine, and that the plaintiff’s claims were otherwise barred under the “culpably uninsured” rule. The Court agreed, granting Summary Judgment and dismissing the claims against the Firm’s client with prejudice.