On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Middlesex County, Docket No. DJ-163099-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 26, 2009
Before Judges Baxter and Alvarez.
Plaintiff Shrenik Bavishi appeals from the entry of a judgment for $41,451.48 in taxed costs and attorney's fees entered by the District Court in Clark County, Nevada on November 24, 2004. The judgment was domesticated in New Jersey pursuant to the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA), N.J.S.A. 2A:49A-25 to -33. We reverse.
Plaintiff sued defendant Sam Aladabbagh, doing business as Diamond Inn Motel, in Nevada for personal injury and property damages incurred while plaintiff was staying at defendant's premises. Plaintiff alleged that on December 1, 1999, he was attacked, stabbed and robbed of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. For reasons not contained in this record, plaintiff's personal injury attorney withdrew from representation and plaintiff has never secured the services of another attorney in Nevada.
Shortly before the personal injury case was listed for trial, defendant filed an application for summary judgment. Plaintiff was, by then, pro se and disputes that he was properly served with the summary judgment papers. The case minutes from the District Court, dated September 27, 2004, indicate that the court did not receive opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. The "District Case Inquiry - Minutes" state:
Plaintiff faxed the Law Clerk this morning advising he would not be present as he had to care for his son today. Court previously granted [plaintiff's counsel's] Motion to Withdraw. As opposition received late, the Court reconsidered the Motion. . . . Motion GRANTED . . . . As plaintiff requested additional time to submit further opposition for the Motion for Summary Judgment, COURT ORDERED, matter CONTINUED. . . . TO: 9/29/04 9:00 AM . . . .
Although plaintiff presumably was noticed of the new September 29, 2004 date, there is no documentation in the record that this occurred. It must be reiterated that plaintiff was at that point pro se and continued to live in New Jersey.
The only other relevant document provided to us is a November 24, 2004 Nevada District Court order. It states:
This matter having come regular for hearing on November 15, 2004, in chambers, and the Court having considered all relevant facts, testimony and proof offered by the respective parties and the cause having been submitted to the Court for decision, the Court being fully advised in the premises, finds as follows:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Plaintiff's Motion Requesting Reconsideration is hereby denied.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Defendant's Motion to Tax Costs is granted in the amount of $11,373.98.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Defendant's Motion for Attorney's Fees is hereby granted ...