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Mohamed-Ali v. Middlesex Management

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


February 19, 2009

ELMOSAAD MOHAMED-ALI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MIDDLESEX MANAGEMENT, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Middlesex County, SC-2165-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 22, 2009

Before Judges Stern and Kimmelman.

Plaintiff Mohamed-Ali timely appeals from a judgment entered October 2, 2007, by the Special Civil Part in Middlesex County. The final judgment is not made a part of the record on appeal, see Rule 2:5-4, although a transcript of the trial judge's oral findings appears and the record submitted does make reference to the judgment.

Plaintiff had entered into a lease with defendant and had paid a security deposit of $2,032.50. At the expiration of the lease, defendant deducted $1,075 from the security deposit.

Plaintiff instituted suit for the amount deducted.

At the trial, the defendant's superintendent produced photos of the alleged damage and merely assigned a dollar amount for each item of alleged damage. An individual appeared to legally represent defendant at the trial. The trial judge assumed that the individual was an attorney. It appears, however, that the individual was not an attorney. Plaintiff seeks a reversal and new trial on that ground. We agree.

Defendant, as a business entity, should have been represented by an attorney, Rule 1:21-1(c). Plaintiff has the right to render void the judgment. Gobe Media Group, LLC v. Cisneros and Fusaro, 403 N.J. Super. 574, 579 (App. Div. 2008). By this appeal plaintiff seeks to exercise that right.

Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

We note with appreciation that plaintiff's counsel on this appeal appears as a volunteer pursuant to the Pro Bono Civil Pilot Program.

20090219

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