On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, L-1989-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 18, 2007
Before Judges Grall and Chambers.
Plaintiffs, Maryann and William Connelly, appeal from the trial court's decision ordering to arbitration, pursuant to a contractual arbitration clause, their dispute with defendants PNC Bank, N.A., PNC Investments, Metlife Investors U.S.A. Insurance Corp., and George Sepero. This appeal is dismissed as interlocutory in light of the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-28 and R. 2:2-3(a)(1).
Plaintiffs contend that in April 2003, they contacted defendant PNC Bank in order to invest a sum of $400,000, held in Mrs. Connelly's name. They were referred to defendant, George Sepero, a PNC wealth management advisor. Plaintiffs contend that they told Sepero that they wanted an investment vehicle with a high return and, also, high liquidity, so that they could access the money upon ten days notice as investment opportunities in real estate arose.
On April 11, 2003, Mrs. Connelly signed an account application and a document investing the funds with defendant Metlife Investors U.S.A. Insurance Corp. She maintains that she signed the papers without reading them. Plaintiffs, thereafter, learned that the papers were for a long term investment, and that, for a period of seven years, Mrs. Connelly would incur substantial penalties if she withdrew the funds.
The investment agreement signed by Mrs. Connelly provides that any dispute under the agreement must be submitted to binding arbitration. Paragraphs nine and ten of the investment agreement are in bold face type and provide that disputes will be submitted to binding arbitration. In addition, the account application, also signed by Mrs. Connelly, contains in the block immediately above her signature the following notice, with the reference to the arbitration provision also in bold face type:
To PNC Investments. In consideration of your accepting this account, I/we hereby acknowledge that I/we understand and agree to the terms and certification statements set forth in this application and agreement. ...