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Barbara L. Newman v. Estate of Rose Newman

July 19, 2012

BARBARA L. NEWMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ESTATE OF ROSE NEWMAN, DEFENDANT, AND JACK NEWMAN, JEANETTE HEIMOWITZ AND RACHAYL HAHN, INTERVENORS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. L-4951-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued November 15, 2011

Before Judges Yannotti, Espinosa and Kennedy.

Plaintiff Barbara L. Newman (Barbara)*fn1 is an attorney and the daughter-in-law of decedent, Rose Newman (Rose). She appeals from an order that dismissed her complaint for legal fees against the "Estate of Rose Newman." We affirm.

This case is one of several among the children of Rose Newman regarding her estate, both in Israel and in New Jersey. Rose lived in Israel, where she died on September 29, 2009. She had four children: plaintiff's husband, Alexander, Jeanette Heimowitz, Jack Newman and Rachayl Hahn. Rose's husband, Eugene, predeceased her.

After Rose's death, the Israeli civil court opened an estate in her name and appointed an Israeli attorney as executor, who was also "appointed for the properties of the deceased in the State of New Jersey in the United States or any other place in the world."

Barbara filed a complaint in Hudson County in September 2010,*fn2 alleging that she was owed unpaid legal fees for services she provided to Rose and her husband from 1986-2006 on matters related to commercial properties in New Jersey. No retainer agreement, invoices or other demands for payment are included in the record. In the complaint, she alleges that the "reasonable value of the services" provided totals $921,333.

In November 2010, Jack, Jeanette and Rachayl filed a motion to intervene in the action, challenging Barbara's claim for legal fees. In December 2010, they filed another motion to dismiss the complaint on jurisdictional grounds. Barbara filed a cross-motion to transfer the action to the Chancery Division, to have an "ancillary administrator" appointed and for a preliminary injunction.

Barbara represents that she had submitted a claim for unpaid legal fees to the court appointed administrator in Israel and contends that the Israeli court refused to consider her claim. However, only partial, and uncertified, translations of the Israeli court's orders,*fn3 purportedly dated May 28, 2010 and December 10, 2010, have been provided. These documents state:

In all matters concerning cancellation of transfers that were done in the lifetime of the deceased, with claims of coercion, deception and oppression, a separate complaint should be filed as these claims will not be considered within the parameters of the estate case.

6. In light of the fact that we are dealing with legal proceedings conducted in the United States court's jurisdiction, the administrator does not have the necessary knowledge to manage these proceeding[s] and in order to safeguard the rights of the estate, the administrator needs to hire the services of a lawyer to handle these proceedings.

Therefore, the translation relied upon does not support the argument that the Israeli administrator of the estate has rendered an adverse decision to Barbara or refused to consider her claim.

Another translation of unknown origin included in plaintiff's appendix states that on December 16, 2010, the Israeli judge excused the executor "from any responsibility for the estate in everything regarding the 4 lawsuits which are pending in the US." The translation of the December 2010 order also stated, "Each party is entitled to bring suits against the other party regarding items, jewelry and other assets of the estate, which each party claims were taken illegally by the other party." Although Barbara represented to the court here that the Israeli judge "determined that his court in Israel does not have jurisdiction to hear the claims for attorney's fees[,]" that decision is not included ...


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