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Hagelgans v. Guerro Construction


August 3, 2007


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Part, Atlantic County, L-2538-04.

Per curiam.


Submitted: February 27, 2007

Before Judges Kestin and Graves.

Plaintiffs, Rolf Hagelgans and Emma Beck, appeal from three orders entered on April 5, 2006. One of the orders confirmed a December 8, 2005 arbitration award and entered judgment against defendant Gerro Construction, Inc. in the amount of $28,000. Another of the orders, among its provisions, granted defendants' motion for summary judgment as to all claims being made by plaintiff Hagelgans and dismissed those claims; granted summary judgment to defendant William Guerro and dismissed all claims against him; and dismissed plaintiffs' claims for violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, common law fraud and violations of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The last of the orders denied as moot plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment as to their claims for breach of contract, consumer fraud, common law fraud, and breach of UCC warranties.

On appeal, plaintiffs argue that "the trial court erred in confirming the arbitration award[,] . . . in considering the outcome of the arbitration in connection with the motions for summary judgment[; and] . . . in issuing decisions relative to the summary judgment motions while determining that the remainder were 'moot'."

The dispute arises from a contract for the construction and purchase of a single-family home and a six-count complaint alleging defects in the construction and claiming breach of contract, consumer fraud, breach of UCC warranties, and common law fraud. The focal issue in this appeal is whether the trial court erred in confirming the arbitration award in the face of plaintiffs' efforts to invoke their right to a trial de novo under Rule 4:21A-6.

In the absence of anything in the limited record on appeal to the contrary we take the procedural facts and the background facts to be as related by the trial court in its memorandum of decision filed with the disputed orders. Given those facts, we are in substantial agreement with the trial court that the reasons proffered for plaintiffs' failure to serve on defendants the formal notice of plaintiffs' rejection of the arbitration award did not amount to the extraordinary circumstances required to warrant a relaxation of the thirty-day notice requirement of the rule, and that substantial compliance with rule requirements also could not be found.

As far as we can discern from the limited record, the home was purchased by plaintiff Emma Beck from defendant Guerro Construction, Inc. Apparently, plaintiff Rolf Hagelgans was not a party to the contract. The Rule 4:21A arbitration resulted in an award of $28,750 to "Hagelgans/Beck", assessing 100% against Geurro Construction, Inc. and 0% against William Guerro, and noting "[n]o cause for consumer fraud[,] [n]o cause for common law fraud[, and] [n]o cause v. Robert Guerro."

With the determination that no adequate basis had been established for overcoming the results of the arbitration, the trial court was manifestly correct in confirming the award. That determination renders moot the additional arguments plaintiffs raise in their appeal, which, with the confirmation of the arbitration award, become issues more of form than substance. None of the arguments advanced by plaintiffs have sufficient merit to warrant further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). The arbitration award is complete on its face. In dismissing specified causes of action and claims, it must be taken to have resolved the others.

Accordingly, the trial court's orders entering judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against defendant Guerro Construction, Inc., and dismissing the balance of the complaint are affirmed. We remand, however, for correction of the judgment. We see no explanation in the record for the entry of judgment in the amount of $28,000 when the arbitration award was $28,750. We conclude that the reduction was unwarranted, and that the amount of the judgment must be corrected to $28,750.

The matter is remanded for correction of the judgment. The judgment as corrected is affirmed.


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