For affirmance -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Haneman, J.
The issue here projected is whether a County District Court has jurisdiction to enter a judgment for the recovery of a penalty in excess of $1,000 under the Outdoor Advertising Act, N.J.S.A. 54:40-50 et seq.
Plaintiff instituted suit in the Ocean County District Court for alleged violations of N.J.S.A. 54:40-50 et seq., in accordance with the provisions of said statute. The complaint was in eight counts. The first seven counts sought the recovery of a penalty for the alleged illegal erection and maintenance of outdoor structures over varying periods of time. See N.J.S.A. 54:40-65. The eighth count sought the recovery of a penalty for the removal of illegally maintained advertising structures. See N.J.S.A. 54:40-57. The court found for plaintiff on five of the first seven counts,
assessing a penalty of $100 for each daily violation and for plaintiff on the eighth count, assessing a penalty of double the State's actual cost for the removal of the four structures. The judgment was entered for $59,230, representing the total of the penalties for which defendant had been found liable. Defendant objected to the entry of judgment on the ground that it was in excess of $1,000 and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the County District Court. The court overruled defendant which appealed to the Appellate Division. Before argument there this Court certified on its own motion. R. 2:12-1. Defendant does not contest the factual findings of the court.
N.J.S.A. 54:40-57 provides that for the removal of an outdoor advertising sign, maintained or used and not authorized by a valid permit issued under Title 54
The director may recover from such owner or person as a penalty double the cost of its removal or the sum of $50.00, whichever is greater.
N.J.S.A. 54:40-65 provides as far as here pertinent:
Any person, firm or corporation which shall erect, use or maintain any advertising structure * * * without complying with all of the applicable provisions of this act, shall be liable to a penalty of not less than $50.00 nor more than $200.00 for each offense, and in default of the payment of such penalty shall be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 30 days. Each day of violation shall be deemed to be separate offense.
N.J.S.A. 54:40-67 provides as far as here pertinent:
Penalties set forth in this act shall be sued for by and in the name of the director and shall be recoverable with costs. Every county district court and municipal court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this act. Any proceeding for a violation of this act may be brought in the county or municipality where the violation occurs or where the violator resides, has a place of business or principal office. The proceeding shall be summary in nature and in accordance with the Penalty Enforcement Law (N.J.S. 2A:58-1 et seq.).
Defendant argues that the jurisdiction of the County District Court in an action to recover a penalty under N.J.S.A. 54:40-50 et seq., is limited by ...