On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. L-00205-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Parrillo and Sapp-Peterson.
Plaintiffs Philip and Susan Santiago, husband and wife, appeal from the June 23, 2006 summary judgment dismissal of their complaint against defendants Allison Villoresi-Litus, Jennifer VilloresiLiodice and Amy Villoresi (the Villoresi daughters). Defendant Alfred Villoresi (Villoresi) cross-appeals from the July 18, 2006 judgment in favor of plaintiffs for $103,277.20, following denial of his motion for summary judgment and a bench trial. We affirm.
These are the facts. On March 27, 1995, plaintiffs loaned Villoresi the sum of $50,000.00. Villoresi verbally agreed to repay this amount in ten days with ten percent interest. Sometime thereafter, Villoresi's daughters executed a document dated "March 1995"*fn1 which reads:
The undersigned promises to pay to the order of [plaintiff] the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND ($50,000.00) DOLLARS, with interest at ten (10%) percent from the date hereof, on behalf of our father, ALFRED J. VILLORESI.
Villoresi subsequently tendered to plaintiffs two checks, dated April 26, 1995 and May 4, 1995, but they were each dishonored. Numerous attempts thereafter by plaintiffs to collect the debt were unsuccessful. Then five years later, on June 12, 2000, Villoresi wrote plaintiffs, acknowledging his debt, otherwise payable on demand, but requesting a short extension:
I have not forgotten my debt to you and only ask that you give me some time to get my feet on the ground . . . . Please give me 6 [months] to get going.
Implicitly agreeing to the request, plaintiffs foreswore demanding payment until six months later when, by letter of January 4, 2001, they expressly demanded payment. Villoresi responded by letter of January 11, 2001, assuring plaintiffs he was "well on the road to having some money again", citing various pending development projects and writing:
I know I've made promises before which all washed out due to my 5 yrs. of horror but I am putting my life back together and should be able to start sending some money this spring.
I will write you in 30 days with a progress report. I do not intend to hurt any friend.
Neither payments nor progress reports were forthcoming. Plaintiffs wrote again in November 2001, demanding the debt be paid, with interest, by December 3, 2001. Villoresi responded in a note of December 2001, promising that plaintiffs would "be the first to be repayed [sic]" once his development project came to fruition in the next six months. Plaintiffs received no payment by the December 3, 2001 deadline but took no action. Villoresi sent plaintiffs a Christmas card in December 2002, writing:
You will see a miracle come true when the subdivision is approved in 2003 and I am finally going to be able to ...