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Shaukat Ali v. Wasserman & Schachman

June 28, 2012


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. DC-4069-09.

Per curiam.


Argued March 28, 2012

Before Judges Fuentes, Graves and Haas.

Plaintiff Shaukat Ali appeals from the order of the Law Division, Special Civil Part, dismissing his cause of action against defendants, the now-defunct law firm of Wasserman & Schachman, as well as the estate of Ronald H. Schachman and the estate of David B. Wasserman. We affirm.

This is the third time plaintiff has appealed from adverse decisions made by the trial court in connection with claims against these defendants. The first appeal concerned an action brought by plaintiff to recover the cost of a broken lock on a mailbox. Plaintiff appealed from a no cause verdict entered against him by the Special Civil Part after a bench trial. We affirmed. Ali v. Wasserman, No. A-2740-06 (App. Div. Feb. 20, 2009). Our colleagues who made up the panel in the first appeal noted that plaintiff's litigious fervor against these defendants stemmed from his refusal to obey a court order directing him to pay attorney David Wasserman fees incurred by plaintiff's former wife in connection with the parties' divorce. Id. at 2.

The panel in the second appeal, Ali v. Wasserman, No. A-5888-08 (App. Div. Mar. 29, 2011), likewise noted that the theme dominating plaintiff's suits against these defendants was the dissolution of his marriage. Id. at 3. In this second appeal plaintiff sought the reversal of the trial court's dismissal of a replevin action he brought against defendants to recover possession of certain documents. Id. at 4. Plaintiff claimed his former wife had given defendants these documents. Ibid.

We held that the trial court properly dismissed the replevin action because plaintiff did not establish that the named attorneys were in possession of these documents or had wrongly withheld delivery of the documents to plaintiff. Id. at 12. The record developed before the trial court in fact suggested that plaintiff's former wife was in possession of the documents. Ibid.

The trial court also ruled that plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed as frivolous, noting a long history by plaintiff of filing legally questionable suits. We noted that the judge, having investigated the procedural history of the matter, dismissed plaintiff's complaint as frivolous, and he recommended that the Essex County assignment judge enter an order similar to that which had been entered in the Morris/Sussex vicinage enjoining further action on plaintiff's part without the specific authorization of the assignment judge. A sanction of $500 was entered for improper use of the courts. [Id. at 8-9.]

We were unable to determine the propriety of the trial court's ruling because the complaint the trial judge dismissed as "frivolous" was not included in the appellate record. Id. at 9. We further noted that the judge did not articulate specific reasons to support his characterization of plaintiff's complaint, relying instead "on a procedural history containing multiple additional motions, complaints and appeals, and on the entry of the order enjoining additional filings in the Morris/Sussex vicinage without the consent of the assignment judge." Id. at 9-10. In this light, we reversed the trial court's ruling dismissing the complaint as frivolous and imposing a $500 sanction. Ibid.

On remand, the trial court again dismissed the complaint. This time the court found plaintiff's claims were barred by the entire controversy doctrine, codified in Rule 4:30A. The court found that plaintiff should have raised these claims in the previous actions he filed against these same defendants. The court noted that in this suit, plaintiff claimed that defendants had violated his property rights when they entered a residence he rented to third parties by pretending to be law enforcement officers. Plaintiff made a similar claim in the suit we reviewed in 2009. See Ali, supra, No. A-2740-06.

Plaintiff now appeals from this decision. The arguments raised by plaintiff in this appeal are unintelligible and lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the trial court.


20120628 ...

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