Civil action. Motion to set aside service.
Defendant moves for an order "striking the complaint * * * and dismissing the action on the ground that the complaint was not sufficiently or legally served."
At best, improper service ordinarily authorizes no more than the setting aside of the service. Colon v. Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines , 27 N.J. Super. 280, 283 (Law Div. 1953). This motion might therefore be denied on this ground alone. However, to save time, the motion will be treated as one to set aside the service.
Defendant appears by his attorney and says that the service is improper because the return of the sheriff recites that the summons was served upon defendant "at his usual place of abode, 826 Bergen St., Newark, N.J., by leaving a copy thereof, together with a copy of the complaint, with a competent female member of his family of the age of fourteen years or over, then residing therein, Lillian Sebersky, his wife," whereas in fact 826 Bergen Street was not his usual place of abode.
Defendant filed no affidavit of his own in support of the motion. When asked by the court where his client in fact lives, defendant's counsel said he did not know.
The only affidavit filed in support of this motion is one by defendant's wife. She says that defendant and she lived at 826 Bergen Street, the place of service, until January 1952; that although she still continues to operate the hardware
store which has been operated at that address for the past 14 years, she and her husband moved their living quarters from the store premises in January 1952 to 130 Keer Avenue, Newark. She and her husband lived there until July 1953, but, says she, "in that month we separated * * * my husband left the home. As a result of this action, I have lost all interest in my husband, and neither care nor know where he is residing."
How the defendant learned of the suit does not appear, nor is it explained why this supposedly angered wife supplied the only affidavit in defendant's behalf.
At common law, objection to the manner of the service of a writ, based on matters dehors the record, was made by a plea in abatement. Nye v. Liscombe , 21 Pick. 263 (Mass. Sup. Jud. Ct. , 1838); Bishop v. Vose , 27 Conn. 1 (Conn. Sup. Ct. of Err. , 1858); 71 C.J.S., Pleading , § 133.
Although we abolished the form known as the plea in abatement long ago, much of the relief which that plea provided is still essential to justice and to orderly and logical pleading. Hence we provide that that relief be obtained by motion. However, those fundamental principles which controlled, and the incidents that arose from, the old plea in abatement still apply insofar as they advance justice and are consistent with our rules. Cf. Commercial Credit Corp. v. Boyko , 103 N.J.L. 620, 624 (E. & A. 1927); Igoe Bros. v. National Surety Co. , 112 N.J.L. 243, 249 (E. & A. 1933).
Common-law pleading has been justly criticized for its many technicalities, which often sacrificed justice to form. New Jersey bounded away from the technicalities of common-law pleading with a few giant strides, the first legislative, the last by our rules. We have moved so quickly and so far that we are inclined to forget that often the common-law judges, conscious of some of those technicalities, and without the aid of legislation, invented ameliorating devices. Since their purpose was to advance justice, these devices are often as useful today as ...