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Infocomp Corp. v. Somerset Trust Co.

Decided: January 30, 1979.

INFOCOMP CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SOMERSET TRUST COMPANY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND STC CORP., DEFENDANT



On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Burlington County.

Lynch, Crane and Horn. The opinion of the court was delivered by Horn, J.A.D.

Horn

This case presents the question of whether a state-chartered bank is authorized under our law to engage in the business of providing data-processing services.

Plaintiff InfoComp Corporation sought a permanent injunction to restrain defendant Somerset Trust Company and its wholly owned affiliate, STC Corp., from providing such services.*fn1

Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint and cross-motions for summary judgment were denied before trial. At the trial in the Chancery Division, after plaintiff presented all its proofs, the judge entered judgment for defendant on the latter's motion pursuant to R. 4:40-1. In granting the motion the judge held that plaintiff failed to prove a cause of action. Dolson v. Anastasia , 55 N.J. 2 (1969). Plaintiff appealed from that judgment.

After we heard oral argument, since we deemed this cause to involve an important question of public policy and statutory interpretation, we requested the Attorney General, as representative of the public interest, to file a brief as to the issues. We also permitted the parties to file additional briefs, and scheduled the matter for reargument. Evans-Aristocrat Industries, Inc. v. Newark , 140 N.J. Super. 226 (App. Div. 1976), aff'd 75 N.J. 84 (1977); Samuel Hird & Sons, Inc. v. Garfield , 87 N.J. Super. 65, 75 (App. Div.

1965); Keenan v. Essex Cty. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders , 105 N.J. Super. 271 (Law Div. 1969). The Attorney General filed a brief and appendix in behalf of the New Jersey Department of Banking as amicus curiae. The matter was duly reargued by all parties.

In an oral opinion the trial judge rested his determination principally upon his interpretation of N.J.S.A. 17:9A-24.1, which defines bank services, and N.J.S.A. 17:9A-25(13), which authorizes banks to act as fiscal agents, and the fact that the clerical function encompassed by the computerized record-keeping is in fact a banking function. Contrary to plaintiff's contention, we are satisfied that the motion was properly granted pursuant to R. 4:40-1, as interpreted in Dolson v. Anastasia, supra 55 N.J. Super. at 5. Accepting as true all the evidence which supports plaintiff's position and according plaintiff the benefit of all inferences which can reasonably and legitimately be deduced therefrom, reasonable minds could not differ in concluding that plaintiff had failed to prove any right to relief.

Plaintiff is a New Jersey corporation, having been incorporated in June 1969. Its principal place of business is located on Church Road, Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Since its incorporation plaintiff has been engaged in the general data processing business and has provided extensive services to local governmental bodies and county boards of taxation in preparation of real property tax assessment records and tax bills, and has also provided water- and sewer-assessment records and bills for local governmental bodies and municipal utility authorities, voter registration records for boards of education, jury lists and incidental reporting data to various police departments. Although plaintiff has performed some data processing services for nongovernmental entities, approximately 90% of its annual gross income results from its data processing services to various governmental bodies.

Defendant bank, incorporated in this State under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 17:9A-1 et seq. , maintains various offices for the conduct of general banking business. These

offices are located within the County of Somerset, New Jersey. Defendant admits that it solicits data processing business and provides data processing services to various municipal and county governmental bodies. These services include the preparation of real property tax assessment records, tax accounting records, and water and sewer assessments in competition with plaintiff. It claims that the providing ...


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