On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Bergen County, Docket No. LT-3098-03.
Before Judges Coburn, Wells and C.S. Fisher.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Coburn, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Plaintiff, 1266 Apartment Corp., filed this action in the Special Civil Part, seeking possession of commercial premises it had rented to defendant, New Horizon Deli, Inc. Defendant moved for a transfer of the case to the Law Division pursuant to R. 6:4-1(g). The trial judge denied the motion in an oral decision, tried the case, and entered a judgment of possession for plaintiff.
Defendant filed a notice of appeal that only sought relief from the judgment. However, in addition to briefing the validity of the judgment, it argued that the judge erred in refusing the transfer. The notice of appeal does not address the transfer decision. Since it is clear that it is only the judgment or orders designated in the notice of appeal which are subject to the appeal process and review, Sikes v. Township of Rockaway, 269 N.J. Super. 463, 465-66 (App. Div.), aff'd o.b., 138 N.J. 41 (1994), defendant has no right to our consideration of this issue. Furthermore, no order was entered denying the motion for transfer, and since only orders are appealable, Do-Wop Corp. v. City of Rahway, 168 N.J. 191, 199 (2001); Heffner v. Jacobson, 100 N.J. 550, 553 (1985), we are obliged to limit our consideration to the question of whether the trial judge erred in entering the judgment of possession. We note that defendant suffered no prejudice from the denial of its transfer motion, and since the judgment of possession was warranted, we affirm it.
Defendant became a tenant of plaintiff pursuant to a written lease in 1993. In December 1997, the lease expired and, pursuant to an oral understanding between the parties, defendant became a month-to-month tenant at $2,500 per month.
On December 30, 2000, Russell Dizon, defendant's president and sole shareholder, fell in front of the leased premises, allegedly as a result of an accumulation of snow, which had been inadequately cleared and had turned to ice.
By letter dated May 31, 2001, plaintiff advised defendant that the monthly rent would be increased to $2,750 effective June 1, 2001. However, it appears that defendant only paid the increased rent for the months of January and February 2003. The trial court left unresolved the question of whether the parties had agreed to the rental payments being made at the old rate because resolution of that issue was not required. By January 18, 2002, defendant had received from plaintiff an offer for a three-year lease at $3,000 per month.
Around August 2002, Dizon filed his personal injury complaint against plaintiff seeking compensation for the injuries he suffered in the December 30, 2000, accident.
By letter dated October 15, 2002, defendant's attorney made a counter-proposal for a three-year lease to commence January 1, 2003, at an initial monthly rent of $2,650. Further negotiations were unsuccessful, and on or about December 9, 2002, plaintiff served defendant with a"Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession." Defendant's attorney responded by letter dated December 19, 2002, stating that Dizon was"willing to consider discontinuing his... [personal injury] action if acceptable lease terms can be negotiated." Plaintiff did not press its request for vacation of the premises, and further negotiations ensued during which plaintiff took the position that it would not enter into a lease with defendant so long as Dizon continued to maintain his personal injury action. Although Dizon testified that defendant offered to enter into a lease if the suit was withdrawn, he never testified that plaintiff was willing to accept his offer of less than $3,000 a month rent.
In early February 2003, plaintiff entered into a five-year lease for the premises in question with another entity, E.com Market, at $3,000 per month.
On February 28, 2003, plaintiff served defendant with a second"Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession." When defendant failed to vacate, plaintiff brought this ...