April 7, 2021

Fishkin Lucks Wins in New Jersey Chancery Court

The Firm prevailed on a motion for reconsideration on behalf of its client, a life insurance company, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division (Hudson County), resulting in its client obtaining a full dismissal of claims asserted against it by two plaintiffs.  Those two plaintiffs had brought claims for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract in connection with the client’s handling of several life insurance policies.  After the Chancery Court denied the Firm’s motion to dismiss, the Firm argued that the court should reconsider its ruling.  First, the Firm argued that plaintiffs’ tort claims failed because they merely alleged that the Firm’s client improperly performed its contractual obligations under the policies.  The fiduciary duty claim, the Firm argued, was doubly deficient because plaintiffs had not alleged—nor did there exist—the requisite “special relationship” between the plaintiffs and the insurance company.  Finally, the Firm argued that plaintiffs’ contract claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, which could not be tolled on account of the discovery rule.  As the Firm pointed out, plaintiffs were suing on behalf of a party to the at-issue contracts (i.e., the policies), and under New Jersey law, contracting parties are not afforded the benefit of the discovery rule on breach of contract claims because they are presumed to know when a breach occurs.  On reconsideration, the Chancery Court adopted the Firm’s arguments in their entirety, granted the Firm’s reconsideration motion, and dismissed the  plaintiffs’ claims.