Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, No. A--78

CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
Writing for the CourtFREUND
Citation171 A.2d 361,68 N.J.Super. 38
PartiesDoris Carlsen STRINGFIELD, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. CITY OF HACKENSACK, a municipal corporation, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date26 May 1961
Docket NumberNo. A--78

Page 38

68 N.J.Super. 38
171 A.2d 361
Doris Carlsen STRINGFIELD, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CITY OF HACKENSACK, a municipal corporation, Defendant-Appellant.
No. A--78.
Superior Court of New Jersey
Appellate Division.
Argued May 2, 1961.
Decided May 26, 1961.

Page 39

[171 A.2d 362] William R. Morrison, Hackensack, for defendant-appellant (Morrison, Lloyd & Griggs, Hackensack, attorneys).

Harry Chashin, Paterson, for plaintiff-respondent (Marcus & Levy, Paterson, attorneys; Harry Chashin, Paterson, of counsel).

Before Judges CONFORD, FREUND and KILKENNY.

The opinion of the court was delivered by

FREUND, J.A.D.

This appeal by the City of Hackensack projects the issue of whether a municipally-owned, metered

Page 40

parking lot is a 'governmental' or 'proprietary' function for purposes of tort liability.

Plaintiff suffered a fractured hip and other painful injuries when she slipped and fell on the ice-covered lot. The accident occurred on January 18, 1958; five inches of snow had recently fallen in the area, followed by rain, sleet and sub-freezing temperatures. Plaintiff had driven to Hackensack with her mother in order to do some shopping. She had turned off State Street into the city-owned and operated lot adjoining the rear of several retail stores, whose front entrances were located on Main Street, the principal shopping area of the city. She parked in front of a meter, emerged from the car, and as she proceeded to walk behind the vehicle she slipped and fell.

Suit was instituted in the Bergen County Court, charging the city with negligence in maintaining the lot in a dangerous and unsafe condition. The municipality countered with assertions of contributory negligence and assumption of risk; in addition, the city claimed that, as a municipal corporation, it was 'immune from liability under the facts of this case.' At trial, defendant moved for dismissal at the close of plaintiff's proofs on the ground (among others) of municipal immunity; the court denied the motion, concluding that the ownership and operation of the parking lot was a proprietary activity. An identical motion at the close of all the evidence was likewise rejected by the trial judge, who proceeded to charge the jury in terms of ordinary negligence. The jurors returned a verdict in plaintiff's favor in the amount of $10,000, upon which the judgment here under review was entered. The city does not contest on this appeal the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's conclusions with respect to negligence, contributory negligence, and assumption of risk.

Hackensack's sole position on this appeal is that the question of whether municipal parking facilities constitute a 'governmental' function has already been resolved in the affirmative by the Supreme Court in Camden Plaza Parking

Page 41

v. City of Camden, 16 N.J. 150, 107 A.2d 1 (1954). The issue in Camden Plaza was whether a city could lease municipally-owned lands to a private corporation for the construction and operation of an off-street public parking structure. The court held that there was no statutory authority to so lease in the absence of a parking authority under N.J.S.A. 40:11A--1 et seq., and, since Camden had not created such an authority, the attempted arrangement was illegal and void. Prior to reaching the crux of the [171 A.2d 363] litigation, Justice Brennan discussed (16 N.J. at p. 154, 107 A.2d at p. 3), in general terms, the power of a municipality to establish public parking facilities:

'Action by a municipality to relieve traffic congestion through the establishment of off-street public parking facilities is the exercise of a public and essential governmental function, and publicly-owned lands used for such purposes are devoted to a public use. The parking crisis in the modern day threatens the very welfare of the community, and statutes and court decisions recognize that public lands employed by public bodies for public off-street parking are devoted to a public purpose. R.S. 40:60--25.1, N.J.S.A., R.S. 40:56--1.1, N.J.S.A., R.S. 40:11A--1; * * *.'

We do not consider Camden Plaza dispositive of the issue here confronting us. The language relied upon is essentially repetitive of the court's prior exposition in De Lorenzo v. City of Hackensack, 9 N.J. 379, 384--85, 88 A.2d 511 (1952), declaring the municipal maintenance of off-street parking facilities, designed to meet the problem of traffic congestion, to be a proper public purpose within statutory and constitutional limitations. This is of course a sound proposition which is no longer open to serious doubt. Cf. City of Trenton v. Lenzner, 16 N.J. 465, 471, 109 A.2d 409 (1954). See cases collected...

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12 practice notes
  • Caporossi v. Atlantic City, New Jersey, Civ. A. No. 581-61.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 7, 1963
    ...297, 102 A.2d 471, 473 (App.Div.1954), reversed on other grounds, 16 N.J. 265, 108 A.2d 431 (1954), Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 43, 171 A.2d 361, 364 (App.Div.1961) a municipal parking case, which merely alludes to it. Neither of these intermediate appellate cases r......
  • Fahey v. Jersey City, Nos. A--43
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 28, 1968
    ...See Cloyes v. Delaware Township, 23 N.J. 324, 332--34, 129 A.2d 1, 57 A.L.R.2d 1327 (1957); Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 41--44, 171 A.2d 361 (App.Div. 1961; Weeks v. City of Newark, supra; Caporossi v. Atlantic City, 220 F.Supp. 508 (D.N.J.1963), affirmed 328 F.2d 6......
  • Stott v. City of Manchester, No. 5690
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • May 29, 1968
    ...establish that elsewhere the operation of municipal parking lots has been thought to be proprietary. Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 171 A.2d 361; Amelchenko v. Borough of Freehold, 81 N.J.Super. 289, 195 A.2d 481; Zaras v. City of Findlay, 112 Ohio App. 367, 176 N.E.2d......
  • Wall v. Hudson County Park Commission, No. A--309
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • September 17, 1963
    ...other than the effect of R.S. 40:9--2, N.J.S.A., and are therefore irrelevant to the present appeal. See Stringfield v. Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 41, 171 A.2d 361 For the reasons stated, the denial by the trial court of defendant's motion for summary judgment is affirmed. It thus become......
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12 cases
  • Caporossi v. Atlantic City, New Jersey, Civ. A. No. 581-61.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 7, 1963
    ...297, 102 A.2d 471, 473 (App.Div.1954), reversed on other grounds, 16 N.J. 265, 108 A.2d 431 (1954), Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 43, 171 A.2d 361, 364 (App.Div.1961) a municipal parking case, which merely alludes to it. Neither of these intermediate appellate cases r......
  • Fahey v. Jersey City, Nos. A--43
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 28, 1968
    ...See Cloyes v. Delaware Township, 23 N.J. 324, 332--34, 129 A.2d 1, 57 A.L.R.2d 1327 (1957); Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 41--44, 171 A.2d 361 (App.Div. 1961; Weeks v. City of Newark, supra; Caporossi v. Atlantic City, 220 F.Supp. 508 (D.N.J.1963), affirmed 328 F.2d 6......
  • Stott v. City of Manchester, No. 5690
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • May 29, 1968
    ...establish that elsewhere the operation of municipal parking lots has been thought to be proprietary. Stringfield v. City of Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 171 A.2d 361; Amelchenko v. Borough of Freehold, 81 N.J.Super. 289, 195 A.2d 481; Zaras v. City of Findlay, 112 Ohio App. 367, 176 N.E.2d......
  • Wall v. Hudson County Park Commission, No. A--309
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • September 17, 1963
    ...other than the effect of R.S. 40:9--2, N.J.S.A., and are therefore irrelevant to the present appeal. See Stringfield v. Hackensack, 68 N.J.Super. 38, 41, 171 A.2d 361 For the reasons stated, the denial by the trial court of defendant's motion for summary judgment is affirmed. It thus become......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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