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Nicholas Pellitta Wins Reversal for Rutgers before New Jersey Supreme Court

Posted on March 15th, 2013


March 15, 2013

Norris McLaughlin, P.A.
721 Route 202-206
P.O. Box 5933
Bridgewater, NJ 08807-5933
Contact: Edward C. Miller, Jr.
Chief Marketing Officer
(908) 722-0700 x4224

Nicholas Pellitta Wins Reversal
for Rutgers before New Jersey Supreme Court 

Bridgewater, NJ (March 15, 2013) – Nicholas F. Pellitta, a Member of the Bridgewater law firm of Norris McLaughlin, P.A., successfully argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of Rutgers University in D.D. v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, A−29/30−11.  The issue was whether a lawyer’s neglect and/or a plaintiff’s alleged physical and emotional incapacitation represented “extraordinary circumstances” allowing a late notice of claim under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (TCA), which governs lawsuits against public entities.  Pellitta argued that there was nothing extraordinary about the circumstances in the case and that allowing the exception would undermine the notice requirement under the TCA.

The Court, agreeing with Pellitta in a reversal of the lower courts, held that “[n]either attorney inattention nor incompetence constitutes an extraordinary circumstance sufficient to excuse failure to comply with the ninety-day filing deadline under the TCA.”  The Court further held that the plaintiff’s medical proofs were “insufficient to meet the extraordinary circumstances standard,” and stated that the “the doctrine of substantial compliance [could not] serve to relieve a claimant of the TCA’s written-notice requirement.”

According to Pellitta, the significance of the decision is the Supreme Court’s recognition that “the notice provisions of the TCA should be construed to effectuate the Legislature’s intent to limit the exception to those cases that are truly extraordinary.”

Pelitta was assisted by Edward G. Sponzilli and Bradford W. Muller, attorneys with the firm’s Litigation and Higher Education Groups.

A resident of Flemington, Pellitta has substantial experience in a variety of legal areas in both federal and state courts.  He has also represented colleges and universities for 20 years in areas such as tort claims defense, police litigation, civil rights and student discipline.  On the individual level, Pellitta assists clients in a variety of matters, both in municipal and superior courts.

Pellitta serves as a Vice Chairman of the Raritan Valley Community College Foundation Board.  He has served as Chairman of the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, and was previously Legal Counsel to the Chamber.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Hunterdon Prevention Resources (HPR).  He has been honored by the Rutgers University Department of Public Safety for 20 years of service to the Rutgers Police Department as a Rutgers Assistant Prosecutor, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.  

Pellitta earned his J.D. from New York Law School in 1985 and his B.A. from Rutgers College in 1982.

Colleges and universities have sought the advice of Norris McLaughlin, P.A. Higher Education attorneys in litigated matters in state and federal courts within New York and New Jersey, and before administrative agencies. The firm is experienced in the defense of tort claims, including sexual assault, assault, social host and dram shop, premises liability and lack of or inadequate security, products liability, libel and slander, sport injuries, and general negligence. The firm has defended cases alleging failure to regulate or control student misconduct, fraternities and sororities. It has also defended cases in state and federal courts alleging civil rights and constitutional violations.

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