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Entire Controversy Doctrine
General Practice
The entire controversy doctrine requires that all aspects of a controversy among those persons who are parties to an action be presented before the Court at one time. In the event all actions are not joined in a single litigation, the parties waive their rights to pursue a claim at a later time. See Falcone v. Middlesex County Med. Soc., 47 N.J. 92. The purpose of the entire controversy doctrine is to encourage comprehensive and conclusive litigation determinations, to avoid fragmentation of litigation, to promote party fairness and judicial economy and efficiency. Because the entire controversy doctrine is equitable in nature, the entire controversy doctrine would be barred where it would be unfair in the totality of the circumstances and would not promote any of the objectives named above. In addition, there are exceptions where the entire controversy doctrine is inapplicable. For example, if the first cause of action did not result in an adjudication of the merits of the case, a successive action is not precluded. See Arena v. Borough of Jamesburg, 309 N.J. Super 106 (App. Div. 1998). Also, the doctrine does not apply to component claims either unknown, unarisen or unaccrued at the time of the original action. Circle Chevrolet v. Giordano, 142 N.J. 280, 294 (1995). To date, the applicability of the entire controversy doctrine in subrogation cases is unclear. In the cases Humble Oil & Refinancing Co. v. Church, et al, 100 N.J. Super. 495 (App. Div 1968) and Rossum v. Jones, et al, 97 N.J. Super. 382 (App. Div 1967), an exception to the entire controversy doctrine was recognized where plaintiff nominally sued for property damage, but failed to join a personal injury claim arising from the same accident. The Court noted that the property damage claim is ordinarily brought by the insurance carrier and allowed the plaintiff to proceed with the personal injury action.

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