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Daimler Chrysler Financial Services Americas, LLC v. Stender

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


June 26, 2008

DAIMLER CHRYSLER FINANCIAL SERVICES AMERICAS, LLC, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TONI M. STENDER, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, No. L-3569-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 11, 2008

Before Judges Wefing and Collester.

Plaintiff Daimler Chrysler Financial Services Americas, LLC ("DCFS"), appeals from a trial court order entered October 19, 2007. Defendant, Toni M. Stender, has not participated in this appeal. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

On July 19, 2003, defendant leased a 2003 Mercedes Benz CLK500C from Globe Motor Car Co. under a three-year lease calling for monthly payments of $740.34. Globe assigned its interest in the lease to plaintiff. Defendant eventually fell behind in her monthly payments. Plaintiff notified defendant but she did not bring her account current. Plaintiff then notified defendant that her lease was in default. Defendant took no action. Eventually, plaintiff repossessed the car. Defendant was given an opportunity to reinstate the lease but did not do so. She was then notified that the car was to be sold at auction. Again, she took no action.

After the auction, plaintiff filed suit to recover what it alleged was due and owing under the terms of the lease; it calculated the amount to be $15,335.15. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, to which defendant did not respond. Plaintiff included in its moving papers its calculations in accordance with the lease terms. The trial court granted the motion but awarded plaintiff only $3,576.43, not $15,335.15.

The trial court provided no explanation for its ruling.

Plaintiff then filed a motion for reconsideration, again seeking $15,335.15 in accordance with the lease defendant had signed. Again, defendant did not respond to the motion. The trial court entered a revised order, which granted summary judgment to plaintiff in the amount of $5,273.99. Included on the order was the handwritten notation that plaintiff was only entitled to recover the amount of the unpaid lease charges, late charges, the fee paid to repossess the car and the early termination fee. The trial court provided no explanation of why it disallowed the contract deficiency amount, the expenses attendant to selling the vehicle, counsel fees in accordance with the lease and various miscellaneous charges.

Rule 1:7-4 provides that on every motion appealable as of right the trial court must find the facts and state its conclusions of law. Plaintiff's motion, seeking summary judgment on its entire claim, came within the scope of this rule. Because the trial court did not provide a statement of reasons explaining how it reached its conclusions in this matter, we are unable to determine whether it was correct or incorrect. We are thus compelled to reverse the order under review and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

20080626

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