NJ Appeals Court Dismisses Lawsuit in Parental Negligence Case

If a divorced couple’s child allegedly commits a crime, one parent may wonder what influence the actions or inaction of the other parent had on the incident.  If one parent feels that the other parent is responsible for the crime committed by the child, they may even decide to initiate litigation.  Feeling financially victimized by a five-figure robbery purportedly committed by his own son, father John Paleski opened a lawsuit against mother Joanna Cali on the basis of parental negligence in 2010.  But in a recent ruling, a New Jersey appeals court has dismissed the case, saying that no laws were actually broken by Cali.


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Essex Father Sues Mother Over Son’s Crimes

New Jersey couple John Paleski and Joanna Cali (daughter of the recently deceased John Cali of Mack-Cali fame) were married for eight years.  When the former couple parted ways following a divorce in 1997, they were granted joint custody of their two sons, who lived primarily with their mother.

Fast forward twelve years to 2009, when John Paleski was preparing to take a two-week trip to the warmer climes of South America.  With his journey approaching, Paleski was experiencing trepidation about the security of his home in his absence, and not without reason.  Just the year before, in 2008, Paleski had granted one of his teenage sons permission to host a card game in his empty house — only to discover that the son had, instead, thrown a party.  Concerned about a repeat incident, Paleski instructed his ex-wife not to allow their sons into his Essex Fells home while he was absent.  That’s when the legal trouble started.

Essex Fells

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NJ Appeals Court Upholds Decision to Dismiss Negligence Suit

Despite Paleski’s instructions to his ex-wife, the Essex man returned to New Jersey after two weeks off the continent only to find his property strewn with the tell-tale remnants of youthful partying.  But of far greater concern than the lawn littered with broken glass and beer cans was the fact that $38,000 worth of jewelry and $200 in cash was missing from Paleski’s home.

Once Paleski realized he had been robbed, he initiated legal action.  In 2010, he filed a lawsuit in Newark’s Essex Vicinage Superior Court against ex-wife Cali, alleging that her “negligent supervision” had been responsible for the criminal burglary and resulting financial damages he had incurred while traveling.  Judge Francine Schott dismissed the case against Cali, but Paleski persisted, bringing the case to the New Jersey appeals courts for reconsideration of Schott’s verdict.

Now, after more than three years, the case is finally closed.  On Tuesday, February 4th, a panel of three judges for the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled in favor of upholding Judge Schott’s decision to dismiss the case, saying that there was no law in New Jersey allowing one parent to sue the other over a matter of a child’s misconduct.  Cali’s attorney, Lewis Markowitz, also adds that Paleski’s son denies responsibility for the missing money and jewelry.

The official court docket for the case can be viewed here.

Matters of divorce, child custody, and family law can be difficult to navigate without the aid of qualified legal counsel.  At Maselli Warren, our Essex County divorce lawyers have over 25 years of experience practicing family law litigation.  If you would like to speak to a New Jersey divorce attorney, call our law offices at (800) 891-2657, or contact us online today.