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Sobel v. Long Island Entertainment Productions

March 28, 2000

IVAN AND FREMA SOBEL, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
LONG ISLAND ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTIONS, INC., LISA HART, INDIVIDUALLY, JOHN DOE, JANE DOE AND ABC CORP. (FICTITIOUS NAMES), DEFENDANTS, AND STAN HART, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Before Judges Baime, Brochin and Eichen.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brochin, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued February 9, 2000

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County.

Plaintiffs Ivan and Frema Sobel filed a complaint which named Long Island Entertainment Productions, Inc., Stan Hart and Lisa Hart as defendants. The complaint alleged that the defendants had contracted with plaintiffs to provide music and entertainment for plaintiffs' son's bar mitzvah party, that defendants had breached the contract, and that plaintiffs had suffered damages as a result. (The details of the alleged breach and damages are immaterial to the issue raised by this appeal.) According to the affidavits of plaintiffs' process server, summonses and copies of the complaint were served as follows on all three defendants on May 27, 1997 at 25 W. Jefryn Boulevard, Deer Park, New York:

[1] on Long Island Entertainment Productions Inc., the defendant[,] a [New York] domestic corporation, by delivering a true copy of each document to Lisa Hart personally (in hand). Said Lisa Hart is an officer and authorized agent of said corporation and the premises is defendant[']s actual place of business within the State of New York;

[2] on Lisa Hart, the defendant[,] by delivering a true copy of each document to Lisa Hart personally (in hand). Said premises is defendant[']s actual place of business within the State of New York.

[3] on Stan Hart, the defendant[,] by delivering a true copy of each document to Lisa Hart a person of suitable age and discretion. Said premises is defendant[']s actual place of business within the State of New York.

Deponent enclosed a copy of same in a postpaid envelope properly addressed to the defendant at defendant[']s last known place of residence, at 25 W. Jefryn Blvd., Deer Park, New York and deposited said envelope in an official depository under the exclusive care and [custody] of the U.S. Postal Service.

No answers were served. A default was entered on September 29, 1997. At the direction of the court, plaintiffs filed a motion on April 16, 1998 to renew the entry of default. Plaintiffs sent notice of that motion to each of the defendants by regular and certified mail in care of "Hart to Hart, 25 W. Jefryn Boulevard, Deerpark, New York 11729." It was unopposed, and a default was subsequently entered.

An ex parte proof hearing was conducted on September 24, 1998. At the commencement of the hearing, the judge inquired whether an answer had been filed and was told that a default had been entered. The judge then asked, "How was service made?" Plaintiffs' attorney answered, "On personal service, Your Honor, by -- and I'm actually not sure if it was a Nassau County sheriff or some other . . . ." The colloquy then continued as follows:

THE COURT: In other words, out of state?

MS. SILVER [plaintiffs' attorney]: Yes, it was, Your Honor, they -- but they were personally served. The affidavit of service accompanied the request to enter default.

Because the complaint alleges that the music and entertainment which are the subject of the suit were intended to be provided in New Jersey, some services were provided here, and the breaches occurred in this State, the court noted that there were "adequate minimum contacts" so that in personam jurisdiction over defendants could be acquired by long-arm service. See R. 4:4-4(b)(1); Blakey v. Continental Airlines, Inc., 322 N.J. Super. 187, 199 (App. Div.), certif. granted in part, 162 N.J. 126 (1999); ...


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