Clarkson S. Fisher, Jr., J.s.c.
This matter comes before this Court by way of the motion of defendant Manasquan Savings Bank ("the Bank") to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Bank also seeks an order discharging a lis pendens placed upon the real estate in question by plaintiffs John and Tracey Jackson ("the Jacksons"). The motion of Daniel and Renee Jahnsen ("the Jahnsens") to intervene for the purpose of asserting claims against the Jacksons and their attorneys, King, Kitrick, Jackson & Troncone, is also before this court. As the current owners, the Jahnsens contend that they have a right to be heard with regard to the Bank's motion to dismiss and, if the lis pendens is not lifted, that they should be permitted to assert a claim against the Jacksons and their attorneys for tortious interference with their contractual relationship with the Bank.
The Bank was the successful bidder on the real estate and improvements located at 616 Isham Circle, Brielle, New Jersey ("the property") at a sheriff's sale that was held on March 29, 1993. The sheriff's deed, showing the Bank as grantee, was executed on April 19, 1993, and recorded on May 3, 1993.
In an effort to sell the property, the Bank placed an advertisement in the Asbury Park Press and began accepting bids.*fn1 Early in the morning of June 11, 1993, plaintiff Tracey Jackson learned
of this and contacted her realtor, Denise Tortorello. Tortorello contacted William Campbell, a representative of the Bank, that morning (between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.). Campbell told her that the Bank had already received several offers for the property and that if the Jacksons were interested in making a bid they could examine the property that morning.
Later that morning, Tortorello was advised by Steven Yarosz, another representative of the Bank, that the Bank was cutting off the bidding at noon that day. When Tortorello informed Yarosz that the Jacksons were prepared to offer approximately $200,000, Yarosz agreed to extend the cutoff time to 1:00 p.m. to allow the Jacksons an opportunity to examine the premises. Thereafter, Campbell and the Jacksons agreed to meet at the property at approximately 11:15 a.m. Yarosz indicated that a decision by the Bank as to which offer would be accepted would be made that day. In a later conversation, Yarosz indicated that the highest bid would be that which netted the Bank the greatest amount.*fn2
At 11:30 a.m., the Jacksons met with Campbell at the property. Campbell advised them that the Bank would sell the property to the "best bidder." According to Campbell, the "best bid" would be determined by a number of variables, including the size of the deposit and the bidder's creditworthiness. Campbell urged the Jacksons to submit their highest and best bid since there would be no second chances.
A contract prepared by Tortorello and executed by the Jacksons (for a purchase price of $200,000 and a real estate commission of $6000) was telecopied to the Bank at 12:41 p.m. This document was never executed by the Bank.
John Jackson telephoned Mr. Yarosz later that day in an attempt to learn whether he and his wife were the highest bidders. At approximately 4:00-4:30 p.m., Yarosz returned this telephone
call and advised Mr. Jackson that the Bank was "changing" the process to maximize its efforts at obtaining a suitable sales price. Yarosz stated that the Bank would open the bids to the bidders and give all of them an opportunity to amend their bids. He told the Jacksons that their $200,000 bid was considered to be $194,000 due to the $6,000 real estate commission (see n. 2, supra); he also indicated that the Bank had received two bids of $185,000, one of $180,000, and one of $175,000. All of the bidders were given until Monday, June 14, 1993, to make an amended bid, and were advised that the Bank would make its determination on the following day.*fn3
The Jacksons did not amend their bid. The next week, they learned that the Bank had agreed to sell ...