Law Lessons from RELIASTAR LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY v. ROGER SMITH and AON RE, INC., App. Div., A-4484-08T2, March 1, 2011:
A trial court’s decisions about the admission or exclusion of evidence are discretionary. Benevenga v. Digregorio, 325 N.J. Super. 27, 32 (App. Div. 1999), certif. denied, 163 N.J. 79 (2000). “Evidentiary decisions are reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard because, from its genesis, the decision to admit or exclude evidence is one firmly entrusted to the trial court’s discretion.” Estate of Hanges v. Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 202 N.J. 369, 383-84 (2010).
An appellate court will not reverse such decisions unless they are “so wide of the mark that [they] result in a manifest denial of justice,” Bitsko v. Main Pharmacy, Inc., 289 N.J. Super. 267, 284 (App. Div. 1996), or, stated differently, they present “a clear abuse of that discretion resulting in an injustice.” Ripa v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., 282 N.J. Super. 373, 389 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 142 N.J. 518 (1995).
Thus, “[e]ven where there may have been error, reversal is required only when an unjust result occurred.” Dinter v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 252 N.J. Super. 84, 92 (App. Div. 1991).
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