On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, L-2546-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 15, 2010
Before Judges Axelrad and R. B. Coleman.
Defendant Patrick Allen appeals from a June 11, 2009 order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Trump Taj Mahal (Trump) in the amount of $120,000. Defendant asserts that summary judgment should not have been granted because issues of material fact existed as to (1) whether Trump violated the regulations of the Casino Control Act, N.J.A.C. 19:45-1.25 to -1.29, by extending credit to defendant while his credit was suspended at other New Jersey casinos and (2) whether defendant possessed the capacity to enter into a legal contract due to his intoxication. Plaintiff cross-appeals the Law Division's denial of pre-judgment interest in the amount of $18,816.90. We affirm the judgment of the Law Division, substantially for the reasons expressed in the comprehensive and insightful bench opinion rendered orally by Judge William E. Nugent on June 11, 2009.
On April 19, 2006, defendant applied for and was granted a $25,000 line of credit at Trump. On April 29, 2006, Trump approved a request from defendant to increase his credit limit from $25,000 to $30,000. On July 22, Trump approved two additional increases of defendant's credit line, first from $30,000 to $50,000, and then from $50,000 to $60,000. On August 3, 2006, another request was granted by Trump, to increase defendant's credit from $60,000 to $100,000.
Thus, over a five-month period of time, defendant's line of credit had been increased incrementally from $25,000 to $100,000. On September 19, 2006, Trump attempted to deposit a countercheck marker, but the check was returned for insufficient funds. As a result, defendant's credit account at Trump was suspended. Subsequently, in four separate payments, defendant paid off the delinquent countercheck in full between October 2006 and December 2006.*fn1 On December 9, 2006, defendant's account at Trump was reinstated with an initial credit limit of $50,000 and then, $100,000 after another request to increase was made by defendant. On that date, defendant issued four separate counterchecks totaling $100,000, which were consolidated into one countercheck, dated December 9, 2006. Defendant lost the $100,000 while gambling on table games and slot machines.
On January 1, 2007, defendant requested an additional $30,000 increase to his credit line, bringing the total to $130,000. Defendant executed a separate countercheck on that date for the $30,000 and lost the entire amount.
On January 23, 2007, Trump deposited the December 9, 2007 countercheck for $100,000, but the check was returned for insufficient funds. Similarly, on February 15, 2007, Trump deposited the January 1, 2007 countercheck for $30,000, and it was also returned for insufficient funds. On March 31, 2007, defendant made a payment of $10,000 toward the outstanding debt, decreasing to $120,000 the amount owed to Trump.
On July 31, 2007, Trump filed a complaint against defendant in the Atlantic County Superior Court, Law Division, to recover the gambling debt of $120,000. Defendant filed his answer on December 20, 2007, and on April 1, 2009, after the completion of discovery, Trump moved for summary judgment, which defendant opposed.
Judge Nugent heard oral arguments on May 28, 2009, and ruled from the bench on June 11, 2009, granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, but denying plaintiff's cross-motion for prejudgment interest. The judge memorialized his decision in an order of the same date, and defendant filed his notice of appeal on July 24, 2009. Trump filed its notice of cross-appeal on July 30, 2009.
Summary judgment must be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and that the moving ...