On his last day in office in January 2010, Governor Corzine signed a bill amending the Statute of Frauds to require that all palimony contracts had to be in writing.  The bill was a knee jerk reaction by the legislature who were unhappy with a number of more recent court decisions liberally allowing for palimony claims including the ruling in Devaney v. L’Esperance that cohabitation was not necessary to palimony claimWe have blogged on the new statute in the past.  Since that time, the debate and raged, and litigation has ensued, over whether the law applied to pending palimony claims.  In fact, courts were split on whether pending claims should continue or whether they should be dismissed.  The question was answered by the Appellate Division on April 21, 2011, in the case of Botis v. Estate of Kudrick et al when the court definitively held that the statute was to only be applied prospectively.

In this case, the parties met in high school in the 1950s and married other people, but commenced a relationship in the 1970s after the end of their respective marriages.  They eventually moved in together and had a marriage like relationship as alleged by the plaintiff.  She even claims that she invested the proceeds of the sale of her home into furnishing the defendant’s newly expanded home.  They later jointly purchased a home together in Wareton which was later transferred only into the defendant’s name, allegedly for tax purposes.  Plaintiff claimed that because of his superior finances, defendant promised to take care of her financially in the lifestyle they had shared together in the event of his death.  However, when the defendant became stricken with cancer, plaintiff learned that she was not provided for in his will.  As such, she sought palimony and transfer of title of the two homes to her.  The litigation in which the man’s estate was the defendant, was characterized as “entrenched and highly adversarial” on all issues.


Continue Reading Palimony Claims Still Alive Says Appellate DIvision – Statute Only Applies Prospectively

The law surrounding palimony has been fluid in the last several months as the New Jersey Courts have refined litigants rights after the break up of relationships in which the parties were not married. Most of the decisions are consistent with the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Kozlowski v. Kozlowski, 80 N.J. 378

Most people have heard or had experience with an attorney who’s behaviors were, one could say, questionable.  What most have not considered is what implications an attorney’s unethical or questionable behaviors could have on them.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has provided some guidance on this very topic in the recent decision of Brundage v. Estate of Carl V. Carambio.  Carol Brundage hired her attorney to represent her in her claim for palimony against the estate of her deceased paramour.  She probably had very little knowledge of what other matters her attorney was handling in his office.  Little did she know that her attorney, just months before beginning his representation of Carol Brundage, represented another woman, Jeanette Levine, in a different county, but also for a claim of palimony.  Carol Brundage also is likely not to have known that in Ms. Levine’s case, the trial court determined that she would not succeed on her claim for palimony because cohabitation was an essentail element for success on a palimony claim, and those parties had not lived together.  Her attorney filed an appeal raising the question of whether cohabitation is an indispensible element of a cause of action for palimony.  (Click here for  Eric Solotoff’s blog entry above on the recent Supreme Court decision in that regard).  Carol Brundage never lived with her now deceased paramour.

Her attorney went on to represent Carol Brundage with his appeal on the Levine matter pending. The Estate filed an application to dismiss Ms. Brundage’s Complaint claiming that cohabitation was an essential element.  In his representation of Ms. Brundage, her attorney convinced the trial court that cohabitation was not essential and thus the Estate’s application was denied.  In his argument, her attorney failed to mention his experience with the trial court in Ms. Levine’s case nor did he mention that the issue was pending on appeal.

The Estate then filed a motion for leave to appeal with the Appellate Division.  In opposing that motion, the attorney did not disclose the contrary conclusion reached by the trial court in Ms. Levine’s matter or the fact that an appeal was pending.  The Appellate Division denied the Estate’s motion and eventually the parties’ settled.


Continue Reading Can an Attorney’s Ethical Violation Be a Client’s Problem As Well?