Supreme Court of New Jersey Affirms Summary Judgment that PMHFL Client Owed No Duty to Injured Plaintiffs

June 6, 2014

The Supreme Court of New Jersey affirmed on June 2, 2014 that PMHFL's client, JAFLO, Inc., a tree trimming contractor, owed no duty to motorists on a roadway to protect them from dangers of falling trees and agreed with PMHFL's argument that plaintiffs were not third party beneficiaries of the contract between co-defendant, JCP&L, a private utility contractor, and its contractor, JAFLO, Inc., which had been retained by JCP&L to trim and maintain the trees along the power lines for the purpose of ensuring uninterrupted electric service to JCP&L customers. PMHFL argued that to expand the contractor's commitment to include maintenance of trees for the benefit of passing motorists where the power lines are unaffected would create an onerous burden without a corresponding benefit to the public, especially where the responsibility to maintain trees already applies to the property owners where the trees are positioned and to the Department of Transportation (NJDOT) because the subject tree involved in the accident fell from within its right of way adjacent to the roadways. The Supreme Court upheld the Appellate Division’s ruling that this was not a question of the contractors' negligent removal of a tree causing injury. Chair of the Firm Executive Committee, Thomas M. Mulcahy, Esq. and Alyssa K. Weinstein, Esq. wrote the winning Supreme Court briefs in support of JAFLO’s arguments.