On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hunterdon County, Docket No. HNT-L-237-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes and Graves.
Plaintiff Glory-Ann Drazinakis appeals from the order of the Law Division, dismissing her cause of action against defendants, New Jersey Association of Realtors (NJAR), and Hunterdon-Somerset Association of Realtors (HSAR).*fn1 Plaintiff is a member of both defendant associations.
In recognition for reaching a certain annual level of business activity, (described as at least thirty homes rented or sold, totaling at least $25 million), the HSAR issues the "Circle of Excellence (COE) -- Platinum Award." Plaintiff claims that defendants wrongly denied her right to receive this "highly prestigious award."
She thus filed this action in the Law Division, consisting of five different counts. The first count seeks a judicial declaration that she is entitled to receive the award. The second count seeks compensatory and punitive damages from defendants for their interference with a property interest. The third count seeks injunctive relief, counsel fees and cost of suit, based on defendants' alleged violation of a "Public Interest and Public Policy." The fourth and fifth counts seek compensatory, punitive damages, and attorneys fees, based on a general allegation of negligence and bad faith.
Given the procedural posture of the trial court's ruling, we will accept and recite plaintiff's material claims, taking them directly from her complaint. According to plaintiff, "shortly after submitting her 2005 COE Award application . . . [she] submitted a draft print media advertisement for . . . fundraiser." That advertisement "contained the statement that Plaintiff was a recipient of the 2005 Platinum COE Award."
Plaintiff sent a version of the advertisement "to the Recorder Newspaper in January 11, 2006." Plaintiff admits that she "inadvertently forgot to delete the 2005 Platinum COE Award designation from the Recorder Ad prior to its submission to the Recorder newspaper on Monday, January 16, 2006." It is equally undisputed that at the time this occurred, plaintiff was aware that NJRA Rule #1 specifically prohibited her from advertising or publishing the receipt of such an award prior to February 1, 2006.
This Rule is written in clear and direct language, disallowing "good faith" or "inadvertence" as a defense for its violation. The penalty for violating the Rule's clear injunction is also plainly stated.
In the event of any violation of Rule #1, no matter who is responsible for the creation or submission of the advertisement, NJAR shall enforce this rule as follows:
1. The applicant shall be ineligible to receive the award for the year in which the applicant has applied and shall be ...