March 5, 2008
BUNKY, INC., EILEEN KARON, AND WILLIAM CAHILL, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
EDWARD HAMMEL AND JOAN HAMMEL, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Docket No. L-167-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 11, 2008
Before Judges Gilroy and Baxter.
This is a breach of contract action for the purchase and sale of real estate located at 55 Raritan Avenue, Highland Park (the Property). Plaintiffs, defendants on the counterclaim, Bunky, Inc., William Cahill, and Eileen Karon, appeal from the December 19, 2006, order of the Law Division, which entered judgment in the amount of $17,783.16, in favor of defendant-counterclaimants, Edward Hammel and Joan Hammel, as amended by order of February 2, 2007, reducing the amount of the judgment to $8,537.13. We affirm.
This is plaintiffs' second appeal in this matter. We previously reversed the grant of summary judgment, dismissing plaintiffs' complaint, and remanded the matter to the trial court to resolve the parties' cross-claims for damages arising from an alleged breach of contract. Bunky, Inc. v. Hammel, No. A-4246-04 (App. Div. February 17, 2006) (slip op. at 20-21).
Following a five-day bench trial, Judge Mathias Rodriguez issued a written opinion on November 30, 2006, determining that plaintiffs had breached the contract by not honoring a time of the essence closing date and awarded defendants consequential damages in the amount of $17,783.16, representing carrying charges on the Property from May 12, 2003, the time of the essence closing date, to the date defendants sold the Property to a third-party purchaser, together with attorney fees. A confirming order was entered on December 19, 2006. On motion for reconsideration, the judge reduced the amount of damages to $8,537.13.
On appeal, plaintiffs argue that they "did not breach the contract since the defendants were not ready to close title on May 12, 2003." Plaintiffs do not challenge the trial court's computation of damages, only the award thereof.
Reviewing courts "'do not disturb the factual findings and legal conclusions of the trial judge unless we are convinced that they are so manifestly unsupported by or inconsistent with the competent, relevant and reasonably credible evidence as to offend the interests of justice . . . .'" Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co. of Am., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974) (quoting Fagliarone v. Twp. of No. Bergen, 78 N.J. Super. 154, 155 (App. Div. 1963)). However, "[a] trial court's interpretation of the law and the legal consequences that flow from established facts are not entitled to any special deference." Manalapan Realty, L.P. v. Manalapan Twp. Comm., 140 N.J. 366, 378 (1995).
We have considered plaintiffs' argument in light of the record and applicable law. We are satisfied that the argument is without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). There is sufficient, credible evidence in the record supporting the findings and conclusions of the trial judge, and we discern no justification for disturbing them. We affirm substantially for the reasons articulated by Judge Rodriguez in his cogent, written opinion of November 30, 2006. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A).
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