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Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Ronghi

September 5, 2008

MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., AS NOMINEE FOR COUNTRYWIDE HOMES LOANS, INC., PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
GIOVANNI RONGHI AND MIRIAM RONGHI, HIS WIFE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Hudson County, Docket No. F-13808-03.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued April 14, 2008

Before Judges Graves and Sabatino.

Defendants Giovanni and Miriam Ronghi*fn1 appeal from orders entered March 15, 2005, and March 19, 2007, denying their motion to vacate a default judgment and sheriff's sale. On appeal, defendants present the following arguments:

POINT I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN WAIVING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE FAIR FORECLOSURE ACT.

POINT II

A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE WILL RESULT BY HAVING THE RONGHI'S UNKNOWINGLY CHARGED WITH FORFEITING THEIR REDEMPTION RIGHTS AND RIGHTS TO STATUTORY ADJOURNMENTS OF THE SHERIFF SALE.

After reviewing these arguments in light of the record and the applicable law, we conclude they do not warrant extended discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We affirm substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Olivieri in his oral decisions on March 1, 2005, and February 22, 2007, with only the following comments.

In December 2002, defendants purchased a house located at 2813 Central Avenue in Union City (the property, or the subject property) for $225,000. Defendants financed the purchase of the property by entering into a loan agreement with plaintiff Countrywide Home Loans (Countrywide)*fn2 on December 2, 2002. The amount of the loan was $189,000, and it was secured by a mortgage on the property. Countrywide also insured the property.

On March 1, 2003, a fire caused $180,236.27 in damage to the property. Following the fire, defendants rented a house at 504 28th Street in Union City, and, at an evidentiary hearing preceding the trial court's order dated March 17, 2007, defendant testified all mail was forwarded to that address.

Although defendant made two mortgage payments to Countrywide in February and March 2003, he admittedly ceased making payments after the fire in March 2003. According to defendant's testimony, he stopped making payments on the mortgage because he believed "the insurance would be paying for the mortgage payments."

On July 31, 2003, plaintiff filed a complaint for foreclosure. On August 29, 2003, Miguel Niubo, defendant's brother-in-law who resided with defendants, was personally served with the summons and complaint at 504 28th Street in Union City, however, defendants never filed an answered. On October 7, 2003, plaintiff requested default be entered against defendants, and on October 30, 2003, plaintiff's law firm filed a certification stating: "On October 13, 2003, this firm did mail by certified mail, return receipt requested, with required postage thereon, a Notice to Cure in accordance with Section 6 of the New Jersey Fair Foreclosure Act" to defendant at both 504 28th Street and 2813 Central Avenue in Union City. On October 30, 2003, the trial court entered a final judgment finding defendants in default and awarding plaintiff "the sum of $203,669.63 together with lawful interest thereon to be computed from October 1, 2003 together with costs ...


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