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Township of Brick v. Block 48-7

Decided: June 19, 1985.

TOWNSHIP OF BRICK, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE COUNTY OF OCEAN AND STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BLOCK 48-7, LOTS 34, 35, 36 KENLAV C/O PARTY TIME INN, AND OTHER LANDS, DEFENDANTS, V. ROBERT V. PASCHON AND BYRON KOTZAS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Ocean County.

Pressler, Brody and Cohen. The opinion of the court was delivered by Richard S. Cohen, J.A.D.

Cohen

[202 NJSuper Page 247] This is an in rem tax foreclosure suit by plaintiff Township of Brick against vacant property assessed to Robert V. Paschon, a local attorney, and Byron Kotzas, a local real estate entrepreneur. Plaintiff served the foreclosure complaint in the manner required by N.J.S.A. 54:5-104.42 and R. 4:64-7, by publication, posting in the office of the tax collector and three other conspicuous places in the municipality, and mailing by certified or registered mail to the owners at their "last known

address as it appears on the last municipal tax duplicate." R. 4:64-7(c).*fn1 Their address appeared on the municipal tax duplicate as 1277 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, the former location of Paschon's law office.

Before the foreclosure complaint was filed and a copy mailed to his law office, Paschon moved his office from 1277 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, to 1005 Hooper Avenue, Toms River. He did not, however, take steps to correct the address on the tax duplicate. The mailed complaint was not forwarded by the postal authorities, but was returned with a stamp on the envelope which said:

Returned to Sender

Unable to forward

Undeliverable as addressed

Forwarding order expired

Plaintiff took no further steps to serve the complaint on Paschon and Kotzas after the mailed notice was returned. It ultimately sought and obtained a default judgment. Almost a year later, Paschon and Kotzas moved to be relieved from the judgment. R. 4:50-1. The application was denied, and they appealed. Their new counsel moved before this court to supplement the record. We denied the motion, but remanded to permit the motion to be made in the trial court and retained jurisdiction. The motion was granted there, and the record was thus enlarged. The court reconsidered the merits on the basis of the enlarged record and again denied relief. The matter has been returned to this court. Plaintiff has not cross-appealed from the trial court's determination to permit enlargement of the record. We now reverse and remand to the trial court.

At one time, in rem tax foreclosure suits could proceed with notice to property owners limited to publication and posting. Newark v. Yeskel, 5 N.J. 313 (1950). In 1950, the United States Supreme Court decided Mullane v. Central Hanover B. & T.

Co., 339 U.S. 306, 70 S. Ct. 652, 94 L. Ed. 865. It held constitutionally insufficient giving notice to beneficiaries solely by publication of a ...


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