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Shaikh v. City of Jersey City

March 11, 2010

MOHAMMAD SHAIKH, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF JERSEY CITY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. L-3203-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: February 24, 2010

Before Judges Axelrad and Sapp-Peterson.

Plaintiff Mohammad Shaikh appeals from summary judgment dismissal of his complaint alleging breach of contract and seeking specific performance arising out of his winning bids at public auction on two lots owned by defendant, Jersey City. We affirm.

Although the City's governing body accepted plaintiff's $1500 bid on a property on Liberty Avenue*fn1 and transferred title to him, it rejected his $10,000 bid on a property on Eastview Court. It is undisputed that at the time of the bid, April l8, 2007, plaintiff did not meet the conditions of the City's Resolution 07-209, adopted March l4, 2007, which authorized the sale of City owned property not needed for public use, as he was delinquent in taxes and had code violations on property he owned there. See ¶ 19 (c) and (d) (stating that no person shall be permitted to bid for any property to be sold by the City if such person is delinquent in taxes or municipal charges on city property or such person owns property in the city that has any outstanding Property Maintenance or Uniform Construction Code (UCC) violations). It is also undisputed that plaintiff submitted an affidavit with his bid which stated to the contrary, and that such affidavit was submitted "with the express purpose of inducing the City to sell [Eastview Court] to [him] knowing full well that the City relies on the truth of the representations contained herein." At the April 25, 2007 meeting, City Council withdrew the Eastview Court property from those properties confirmed for public sale under Resolution 07-297, without explanation.

On June 22, 2007, plaintiff filed a complaint against the City asserting breach of contract and seeking damages and specific performance, alleging the City failed to deliver title to the Eastview property to him as the highest bidder. Plaintiff did not file an action in lieu of prerogative writs challenging the reasonableness of the bid conditions in Resolution 07-209 or Council's action as to his bid. See R. 4:69-1 to -6 (providing generally for a forty-five-day time limitation for challenging municipal action). The City filed an answer. While the case was pending, City Council sent a letter to plaintiff's attorney, informing him that the decision to reject the bid would be reconsidered at a December l9, 2007 Council meeting. Plaintiff's attorney made a presentation before Council, after which it adopted Resolution 07-932, affirming the rejection of plaintiff's bid. Council expressly found that plaintiff was not a qualified bidder at the time of sale due to his failure to comply with the conditions of Resolution 07-209 because he was delinquent in the payment of taxes and had existing UCC violations at the property he owned at 4 Bidwell Avenue in Jersey City.

Prior to trial, the City filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by Judge Iglesias following oral argument on December 5, 2008, and memorialized in an order of that date. Plaintiff appealed.

Plaintiff asserts the following arguments on appeal:

POINT I.

DEFENDANT FAILED TO COMPLY WITH N.J.S.A. 40A:12-13(a) GOVERNING THE SALE OF REAL PROPERTY NOT NEEDED FOR PUBLIC USE.

POINT II.

PLAINTIFF WAS ENTITLED TO NOTICE AND A HEARING WHEN THE DEFENDANT SOUGHT TO REJECT HIS SUCCESSFUL BID.

A. PLAINTIFF WAS NOT GIVEN NOTICE OF THE APRIL 27, 2007 COUNCIL MEETING AND WAS DENIED A HEARING WHEN HIS ...


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