Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

New Jersey Re-Insurance Co. v. Saintphard

October 31, 2007

NEW JERSEY RE-INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PROSPER SAINTPHARD, ANGELEINE SAINTPHARD AND LOVELY SAINTPHARD, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND ANGELA SAINTPHARD, DEFENDANT, AND THE CENTRAL HEALTH GROUP, P.C., ALLIED CHIROPRACTIC AND REHABILITATION CENTER, P.C., SHINE MEDICAL P.C., NALINI PRASAD, M.D., JERALD P. VIZZONE, D.O., CLIFFSIDE PARK IMAGING & DIAGNOSTIC CENTER, L.L.C., NEWARK IMAGING CENTER, P.C., BLOOMFIELD DIAGNOSTIC CENTER, LLC A/K/A OPEN MRI OF BLOOMFIELD, AND OPEN MRI & IMAGING OF ROCHELLE PARK, P.A. A/K/A OPEN MRI AND IMAGING OF ROCHELLE PARK, INC., DEFENDANTS IN INTEREST.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, L-2685-05.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 24, 2007

Before Judges Weissbard and S.L. Reisner.

Defendants Prosper Saintphard (Prosper), Angeleine Saintphard (Angeleine), and Lovely Saintphard (Lovely), appeal from an order denying their motion to vacate a default judgment obtained by plaintiff New Jersey Re-Insurance Company (NJ Re). We affirm as to Lovely and Angeleine but remand for further proceedings as to Prosper.

I.

On October 6, 2005, NJ Re filed a verified complaint against Prosper, Lovely, Angeleine and Angela Saintphard, alleging that defendants engaged in insurance fraud, asserting a breach of contract claim and seeking declaratory relief. More specifically, the complaint asserted that the defendants "submitted claims to NJ Re for insurance benefits, either directly or by way of assignment to various medical providers, in relation to injuries allegedly sustained by defendants as a result of their operation of and/or occupancy in motor vehicles during three motor vehicle accidents that allegedly occurred" between May 20, 2003 and December 5, 2003. After the first motor vehicle accident (MVA) NJ Re paid nearly all of defendants medical providers, but denied most of the medical providers' requests for PIP benefits in connection with the second and third MVAs.

Due to multiple pending arbitration hearings and the frequency of defendants' accidents in such a short time span, NJ Re requested that Angeleine, Prosper and Angela appear for an Examination Under Oath (EUO). Prosper appeared for his EUO on March 23, 2005 in connection with MVA III; however, Angela did not appear for her scheduled EUO in connection with MVA III. On April 27, 2005, Prosper appeared for a second EUO in connection with MVA II. Angeleine agreed to appear on the same date for an EUO but failed to do so. Based on the EUOs, "NJ Re determined that defendant Prosper made numerous knowing and material misrepresentations in support of his and his family members' claims for PIP benefits." Furthermore, NJ Re alleged that this information led it to investigate if MVA I, MVA II or MVA III actually occurred and whether or not the accidents were intentionally staged. NJ Re claimed that after the three MVAs, defendants assigned their rights to PIP benefits to various medical providers who later sought and/or obtained insurance benefits from NJ Re.

Attached to the complaint were three transcripts of sworn testimony by Prosper and two arbitration resolutions denying insurance benefits to defendants' assignees due to a lack of causal relation between defendants' injuries and any accident. Additionally, the complaint named several Defendants In Interest, described as "alleged medical providers who have in the past or may in the future bring claims for personal injury protection ('PIP') benefits, as assignees of one or more defendants, under personal automobile insurance policies issued by NJ Re."

On November 7, 2005, four separate affidavits of service were filed purporting to show that each defendant had been served process. All four affidavits recited that process was served on October 30, 2005 between 12:10 p.m. and 12:15 p.m. at 7 Essex Street, Irvington, New Jersey.

The affidavit of service for Lovely indicated that she was "Served Successfully" and the process server "Delivered a copy to him/her personally." The affidavit contained the following information in the section entitled "Description of Person Accepting Service": Sex: F Age: 21-35 Height: 5'0"-5'3" Weight: 100-130 lbs. Skin: Black Hair: Black.

The affidavit of service for Angela indicated that she was "Served Successfully" and the process server "Delivered a copy to him/her personally." The affidavit contained the following information in the section entitled "Description of Person Accepting Service": Sex: F Age: 21-35 Height: 5'0"-5'3" Weight: 100-130 lbs. Skin: Black Hair: Black.

The affidavit of service for Angeleine indicated that she was "Served Successfully" and the process server "Delivered a copy to him/her personally." The affidavit contained the following information in the section entitled "Description of Person Accepting Service": Sex: F Age: 21-35 Height: 5'4"-5'8" Weight: 100-130 lbs. Skin: Black Hair: Black*fn1 .

The affidavit of service for Prosper indicated that he was "Served Successfully" and the process server "Left a copy with a competent household member over 14 years of age residing therein." The "Name of Person Served and relationship/title" read "Prosper Saintphard" and "Self," respectively. The affidavit contained the following information in the section entitled "Description of Person Accepting Service": Sex: F Age: 21-35 Height: 5'0"-5'3" Weight: 100-130 lbs. Skin: Black Hair: Black.*fn2

When defendants failed to answer the complaint, NJ Re requested entry of default and copied defendants on the request. On December 13, 2005, the court entered default against defendants and NJ Re sent notice of default to each defendant. Thereafter, the court requested a proof hearing. NJ Re confirmed the court's request for a proof hearing and sent notice via regular mail to the defendants, using the same address where service had purportedly been made.

The defendants still did not respond; however, on May 1, 2006, two of the defendants, Prosper and Angeleine, appeared at the proof hearing without counsel. At the hearing, Prosper acknowledged that he and Angeleine received notice of the hearing, otherwise they would not have been in attendance. The judge informed defendants that because they defaulted they could not present any defenses or testimony, although they could cross-examine witnesses. Prosper then attempted to express a lack of familiarity with the judicial process. The judge strongly disagreed with Prosper's claim, stating that after having read the papers, he did not believe that Prosper lacked an understanding of the system. Rather, the judge said that he believed "[Prosper] understand[s] how to work the system." The court denied Prosper's request to reschedule the hearing, noting that he could make an application later. Moving forward, the court permitted NJ Re to present its proofs.

NJ Re called three witnesses who explained their reasons for concluding that defendants committed a fraud. Prosper and Angeleine had an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses but the court interrupted them after they began to make statements instead of asking questions. After hearing the proofs, the court held that NJ Re provided sufficient evidence of insurance fraud and entered judgment in favor of NJ Re. Prosper then asked for the court's permission to hire a lawyer and the court granted him permission. Next, the court asked defendants questions concerning their address, occupation and employers, and their current usage of motor vehicles. At the request of NJ Re's counsel, the court read defendants' license numbers ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.