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Kugler v. Haitian Tours Inc.

Decided: July 27, 1972.


Mehler, J.s.c.


In this action brought by the Attorney General pursuant to Section 8 of the Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-8, and as an officer of the court, he seeks to enjoin defendants from engaging in what he contends are unlawful practices proscribed by Section 2 of the Act. He also asks for restoration of moneys to consumers and civil penalties as authorized by Sections 8 and 13.

The New Jersey State Bar Association has been permitted to intervene in the action and has filed a complaint which charges defendants with the unauthorized practice of law. It seeks to enjoin defendants from acts which it says constitute the practice of law.

On this continued return day of an order to show cause the Attorney General seeks final summary judgment, as is permissible in an appropriate case under Section 8 of the Act and Rules 4:67-1, 2 and 5, and failing that, seeks interlocutory restraints pending plenary disposition of his claim. For the purpose of the motion he relies on a transcript of testimony of the individual defendants and on the affidavit of John P. Legnaioli, an investigator of the Division of Consumer Affairs, the latter only to the extent of showing the papers that are made available by defendants to consumers.

For the purpose of this motion the Attorney General does not rely on any inferences which may be drawn from the conversation which Legnaioli had with defendant Millano as set out in the former's affidavit. Accordingly, the material facts are not in dispute.

Defendant Haitian Tours, Inc. is a New Jersey corporation whose business is operated by the individual defendants from an office in East Orange. Since on or about December 1, 1971, defendants have been selling a Haitian travel package, which consists of three elements, namely, transportation to and from Haiti, lodging and meals for one or two days at a hotel there, and preparations for the securing of a Haitian divorce. The arrangements include reference to a Haitian guide and lawyer.

The contemplated divorce is one obtained in either a one party or a two party proceeding. A two party proceeding is one in which one spouse, who becomes the petitioner, goes to Haiti and submits to a Haitian court the consenting spouse's waiver, submission to jurisdiction, and power of attorney which has been notarized, a letter of information and affidavit of marriage. The form of power of attorney uniformly provides for the appointment of Marc L. Raymond as attorney for the consenting spouse "with all necessary power to accomplish the special purpose" of the power.

A one party divorce occurs when the other spouse will not consent to the proceedings. The procedure is the same as in a two party case, except that a power of attorney is not obtained and service of process is presumably effected extraterritorially.

In short, the two party divorce is what is commonly known to us as a bilateral divorce and a one party divorce is commonly known to us as a unilateral divorce.

The cost of a package for a unilateral divorce is $1125 and for a bilateral divorce is $1275. In each instance the consumer or applicant pays $425 to Haitian Tours; the balance is paid to its representative in cash upon arrival in Haiti and before the court appearance. The fees paid are

allocated as follows: air fare $198, lodging $84, consultations and document reproduction fee $25, referral fee $200, legal and administrative fees for services rendered in Haiti $538 in case of a bilateral divorce, and $768 in case of a unilateral divorce. The referral fee is paid to Haitian Tours in those cases where it refers the applicant directly to its Haitian representative and is said to be paid by a Haitian organization.

When one whose interest in obtaining a Haitian divorce consults defendants he pays a $25 fee for a consultation and printed material. He is advised to take the material home, consult with his attorney, and to return if he wishes to use defendant's services. The material consists of various papers, copies of which are attached to an affidavit made by Investigator Legnaioli. In general, they consist of the following: a letter of information on which the applicant is to furnish requested information about the spouses, the date of marriage, names and custody of minor children, and whether there is a separation agreement, and instructions as to what documents must be brought to court; a form of certification to be executed by the applicant attesting to the fact and place of marriage, a power of attorney to be executed by the defendant spouse appointing Mr. Raymond to accept service and appear for him; a form of the proposed judgment of divorce; purported excerpts of the Haitian Divorce Law; a copy of an article published in the New York Law Journal entitled "Haitian, Dominican Laws of Divorce Evaluated", by a New York lawyer, in which he analyzes the Haitian divorce law and expresses an opinion that a Haitian divorce decree is entitled to recognition by the New York courts to the same extent "as the New York courts extended to divorce decrees of ...

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