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Johnson v. Murphy

Did we achieve our litigation objective? No. Executive Order No. 128 waived numerous state laws governing security deposits. Despite violating a plethora of laws, including the Constitution, Matthew Johnson was not able to enforce the security deposit he included in the lease agreement for his small rental property.

Court Outcome: The Third Circuit upheld Executive Order No. 128, despite NCLA’s constitutional arguments.

Larger Impact: For many months, landlords were not able to enforce security measures included in voluntarily signed lease agreements. Initially enacted to stop the spread of Covid-19, Executive Order No. 128 violated the core constitutional concept of separation of powers by illegally seizing the New Jersey legislature’s authority in order to violate Matthew Johnson and other residential landlords’ constitutional and contractual rights.

Summary: NCLA filed the complaint against Governor Murphy in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, challenging Executive Order No. 128. The order, which violated federal constitutional law, state constitutional law, state contract law and state landlord-tenant law, purported to allow tenants to use their security deposits to offset rent or back rent. Regardless of the governor’s good intentions, the order unlawfully singled out residential landlords and canceled the major security measure they were using to protect their property.

NCLA represented Mr. Johnson, the owner of a small rental property in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Like many other New Jersey landlords, he had fallen victim to the governor’s unconstitutional order and risked losing the security deposit for which he rightfully contracted. Without a security deposit to insure against damage caused to the property during the tenancy, he have been forced to cover the cost of such damage out of his own pocket, or he could have been forced to bring a costly and time-consuming small-claims action against his tenant. If Mr. Johnson had tried to adhere to the terms of the voluntarily signed leasehold contract, under the order’s rules, he would have been subject to criminal penalties.

Kara Rollins
Litigation Counsel

Opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

March 14, 2022 | Read More

Appellants’ Reply Brief in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

October 6, 2021 | Read More

Filed 28(j) Letter Asking the Court to Deny Appellees’ Motion to Dismiss and Decide This Case on the Merits

July 22, 2021 | Read More

Governor Murphy’s 28(j) Letter re: Kravitz v. Murphy

July 20, 2021 | Read More

Appellees’ Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss the Appeal as Moot

July 6, 2021 | Read More


NCLA Files Third Circuit Appeal to Stop Gov. Murphy’s Rental Security Deposits Executive Order

June 16, 2021 | Read More

NCLA to Appeal NJ District Judge’s Refusal to Apply Contracts Clause to Protect Housing Providers

March 24, 2021

NCLA Keeps Fighting Against Gov. Murphy’s Unlawful Effort to Rewrite Every Residential Lease in NJ

November 18, 2020 | Read More

NCLA Asks U.S. District Court for New Jersey to Stop Governor’s Abuse of Emergency Powers

June 2, 2020 | Read More


Local News with Jared McClain’s Comments

New Jersey 101.5

May 12, 2023

NJ landlords fight back: Lawsuit challenges Murphy executive order

New Jersey 101.5

May 12, 2023

Broad support for ending eviction moratorium early, aiding tenants and landlords

NJ Spotlight News

February 7, 2023

Landlords lose a round in court over Covid measures

NJ Today

February 7, 2023

Radio: Heres whats trending for June 8


February 7, 2023




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