Clapp, Goldmann and Ewart. The opinion of the court was delivered by Clapp, S.j.a.d.
The plaintiff, Original R. & R. Empire Pickle Works, Inc., brings this action of attachment against the defendant, an Italian corporation. Whiteman Food Products Company was admitted as an applying claimant under the attachment. Original and Whiteman, each, claim to have bought foods of defendant, under contracts with it which defendant allegedly broke. On the breach, plaintiff attached certain of these foods shipped to Whiteman. Defendant then moved to quash the attachment and to vacate the order admitting Whiteman as an applying claimant, and from orders denying the motions, defendant appeals.
There are four main questions. The first is whether the orders are appealable either under R.R. 2:2-3 (a) (3) upon the ground that the court below had no jurisdiction over the subject matter; or under R.R. 4:88-7 on the ground that, even though the procedure is now in the rules, it is still a statutory proceeding. Cf. Mueller v. Seaboard Commercial Corp. , 5 N.J. 28 (1950). We have decided to pass the point. Had leave to appeal been sought under R.R. 2:2-3 (b), we would have granted it; for if the appeal were fully sustained, it would terminate the action. Moreover,
there has been referred to us an application for a rehearing of the appeal in Whiteman Food Prod. Co. v. G. Arrigoni & C., etc. , 27 N.J. Super. 359 (App. Div. 1953), heard by another part of the Appellate Division (one of whose members has since retired from the bench). In that case a prior attachment of the very merchandise attached here was quashed. The case involved not only a number of the questions before us, but also the same parties, the plaintiff in that action being the applying claimant here and the applying claimant there being the plaintiff here. We may say, respectfully, that in our view certain matters, including observations of the County Court as to the new practice in attachment actions with regard to the amending and supplementing of affidavits, require reconsideration, and we therefore grant the rehearing. It may be, however, that since in this opinion we sustain the second attachment, questions as to the first attachment are moot.
The second question is whether the decision in the first attachment action bars the action here. The question was not raised below, and in view of the fact that the application for a rehearing has been granted, we shall not pass upon the point. As to whether the doctrine of res judicata can be invoked for the first time on appeal, see Epstein v. National Casualty Company , 1 N.J. 409 (1949); 4 C.J.S., Appeal and Error , § 233, p. 452; but see McMichael v. Boray , 90 N.J.L. 142 (E. & A. 1916), where, however, the doctrine was laid hold of in order to sustain the judgment below -- not, as here, to upset it. In general, see Ex-Cello Corporation v. Farmers Cooperative Dairies , 28 N.J. Super. 159 (App. Div. 1953).
The third question goes to the sufficiency of Original's and Whiteman's affidavits. How much of his claim need a plaintiff put in his affidavit to entitle him to a writ? Under the Attachment Act (R.S. 2:42-1 et seq.), which was in effect prior to 1948, the court on a motion to quash a writ of attachment ordinarily would not deal with the validity of the plaintiff's claim. R.S. 2:42-5 required the affidavit to state merely that defendant "owes to plaintiff a debt,
specifying as nearly as practicable the amount thereof." To try the validity of a claim on a motion to quash the attachment would have (so it was held) "deprive[d] the plaintiff of his right to trial by jury in case the claim is contested, and it would require a clear case of abuse of the process of attachment to justify the court in interfering in this summary way." Singer v. Schapiro , 133 N.J.L. 133 (E. & A. 1945). Whether these considerations apply to the present rule need not be decided.
There was another attachment statute also in effect up to 1948, formerly found in the Practice Act, and later appearing as R.S. 2:42-72 et seq. That statute contained a provision, R.S. 2:42-72 (b), applicable to certain actions, requiring the plaintiff to specify in his affidavit "the nature and particulars of" his action.
In 1948 a single Attachment Act, N.J.S.A. 2:42-86 et seq. , was enacted in lieu of the two statutes then on the books. It incorporates in N.J.S.A. 2:42-88 the provision italicized above. On January 1, 1952 Title 2 A became law, erasing that provision from the statutes. Nevertheless R.R. 4:77-1 requires the affidavit to contain "proof to the satisfaction of the court, establishing the plaintiff's right to the writ." Certainly the law will place no heavier demands upon the plaintiff than that he set up in the affidavit a bare prima facie case. An attachment may be no remedy, unless speedy, and the law therefore does not call for plenary proof. Mueller v. Seaboard Commercial Corp. , 5 N.J. 28, supra , construing N.J.S.A. 2:42-88.
With respect to the affidavit submitted in Original's behalf, the defendant's principal point is that it does not establish, through competent evidence, that Braun Bros. Food Corp. was the defendant's agent. We need not deal with the proof in detail. The matter is too clear. Defendant's letter to Original of October 16, 1952, identified Original's contract No. 21267 and specified at length deliveries made thereunder by defendant. Besides it referred to ...