On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Union County.
Petrella and Gruccio. The opinion of the court was delivered by Petrella, P.J.A.D.
Evergreen International Services Corp. (Evergreen) appeals from an order of the Chancery Division declaring that Wallant International Trade, Inc. (Wallant), a warehouse facility, had perfected a warehouseman's lien under N.J.S.A. 12A:7-209 for $48,728 based on bills and invoices which it had presented.
Evergreen contends that no valid lien was perfected because Wallant failed to produce proper warehouse receipts which conformed with the statutory requirements. It also argues that the chancery judge's decision is not supported by adequate findings of fact.
The parties agreed below that the resolution of an order to show cause filed by Evergreen in the Chancery Division, Union County would be dispositive of their dispute. The facts are not complicated and are essentially undisputed.
On May 9, 1986 Evergreen entered into an agreement with Wallant to store merchandise of Evergreen's customers at Wallant's warehouse in Roselle, New Jersey. The agreement set out warehouse charges essentially by the number of pallets delivered and removed. In early 1987 Evergreen stopped its monthly payments to Wallant, alleging that there was $28,458.68 of inventory missing and that it was owed $3,077 in demurrage costs and overcharges. As of May 1987 Evergreen had approximately $600,000 in food items stored at Wallant's facility.
Wallant contended that Evergreen owed Wallant $48,728 based on its bills and invoices. Evergreen conceded that it
withheld approximately $30,000 in monthly payments, but claimed entitlement to an offset for the missing merchandise. Evergreen also argued that the invoices and bills submitted by Wallant in support of its claim of a warehouseman's lien did not constitute warehouse receipts under N.J.S.A. 12A:7-202 because these documents did not sufficiently describe the warehoused goods as statutorily required*fn1 and were denominated as bills and invoices rather than as "warehouse receipts."
N.J.S.A. 12A:7-202 provides:
(1) A warehouse receipt need not be in any particular form.
(2) Unless a warehouse receipt embodies within its written or printed terms each of the following, the warehouseman is liable for damages caused by ...