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E. J. Sallo v. Borough of Westwood


April 5, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-7782-08.

Per curiam.


Submitted March 7, 2011 - Decided

Before Judges Lisa and Alvarez.

Plaintiff E. J. Sallo appeals from a February 19, 2010 order denying his motion for reconsideration of an earlier order transferring his complaint against defendant Borough of Westwood to the Tax Court. We affirm.

The procedural defects in this case are not insignificant. Despite the fact this is solely an appeal from the denial of reconsideration, all of plaintiff's arguments focus on the merits of the prior order from which reconsideration was sought. See Fusco v. Bd. of Educ., 349 N.J. Super. 455, 461-62 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 174 N.J. 544 (2002). The transfer order from which plaintiff seeks relief is most likely not a final judgment, as required by Rule 2:2-3(a), and no application for leave to appeal was ever made in the matter. See Grow Co. v. Chokshi, 403 N.J. Super. 443, 457-58 (App. Div. 2008) (observing that "only an order that finally adjudicates all issues as to all parties is a final order and that an interlocutory appeal is permitted only by leave of our appellate courts"). In any event, we find the appeal without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We make only the following comments.

Plaintiff's demand for $189,492.90 in damages from defendant arises from his 1980 acquisition of a tax sale certificate on Block 1701, Lot 22. Almost a year after filing the complaint, plaintiff filed for summary judgment seeking $200,000 in damages. Although that application was denied, the trial court granted defendant's cross-motion for dismissal of the complaint without prejudice and transfer of the matter to the Tax Court pursuant to Rule 8:2(a).

The rule vests the Tax Court with "jurisdiction over any action cognizable in the Superior Court that raises any issue as to which expertise in taxation is desirable[.]" R. 8:2(a). The trial judge's authority to order transfer is embodied in Rule 4:3-4(a): "The court in which an action is pending may order it transferred to the Tax Court provided that the principal issue or issues raised therein are cognizable in that court." Hence, the matter was removed to the Tax Court.

Plaintiff does not proffer any facts or law supporting his contention that the transfer order was erroneous. The points set forth in his brief assert, without support, that he is entitled to a trial by jury on the question of damages, that because the municipality acted in "bad faith" the issues "are more appropriately dealt with in a jury trial," that discovery was incomplete, and that the transfer was reversible error.

We agree with the trial court's succinct analysis. This dispute centers over a tax sale certificate. All the claims asserted in plaintiff's complaint relate to his purchase and ownership of the tax sale certificate. The issues relating to plaintiff and defendant's interactions regarding the tax sale certificate fall precisely within the unique expertise of the Tax Court. The dismissal without prejudice and resulting transfer was therefore appropriate. Plaintiff has not established any prejudice, much less error, arising as a result.



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