This is an action for a real estate brokerage commission. Defendants listed premises known as 17 Ross Avenue, Demarest, Bergen County, New Jersey, with plaintiff and agreed to pay a commission of 5% of the sale price. It was an exclusive listing requiring payment to plaintiff if the property were sold within six months of the expiration date of the listing. The property was sold after the listing expired but within six months thereafter; however, plaintiff did not receive a commission. The merits of the dispute are not now before the court.
After the sale of the property defendants left New Jersey and established residency in Florida. Thereafter, plaintiff attempted service on the defendants in Florida by registered mail. Defendants did not respond to this service and a default judgment was entered in this court for $2,034. Defendants now move to vacate entry of the default judgment and to quash service of process. Initial examination of this transaction discloses that New Jersey has a sufficient interest in the dealings of the parties to enable it to entertain this action. At the time the parties entered into the contract
both plaintiff and defendants were residents of and domiciled in New Jersey. The contract, regardless of forum, will be governed by New Jersey law.
Due process requires only that in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present within the territory of the forum, he have certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S. Ct. 154, 158, 90 L. Ed. 95 (1945).
It is clear that defendants have had sufficient contacts with New Jersey to satisfy the due process requirements so that the case may be heard in New Jersey. They argue, however, that even if the suit is proper in New Jersey, the county district court is not the proper forum. Thus, the question raised is whether the manner of service of process used by the plaintiff in this case is sufficient for this court to have jurisdiction.
The jurisdiction of the county district court is established by the Legislature by authority of our Constitution. N.J. Const. (1947), Art. VI, § I, par. 1:
The Judicial Power shall be vested in a Supreme Court, a Superior Court, County Courts and inferior courts of limited jurisdiction. The inferior courts and their jurisdiction may be from time to time established, altered or abolished by law.
"[The county district courts] are creatures of the Legislature and may be given such jurisdiction with regard to subject matter and territory as the Legislature sees fit." Kappish v. Lotsey, 76 N.J. Super. 215, 222 (Cty. D. Ct. 1962). "The County district courts are inferior courts of limited jurisdiction, which the Legislature may establish, alter or abolish in its discretion as the public good may require." Andriola v. Galloping Hill Shopping Center, Inc., 93 N.J. Super. 196, 199 (App. Div. 1966).
The territorial jurisdiction of the county district court as established by the Legislature is provided at N.J.S.A. 2A:6-32:
Except as otherwise provided by law, the territorial jurisdiction of every county district court shall be coextensive with the limits of the county wherein ...