October 26, 2012
MARINA ASSOCIATES, A NEW JERSEY GENERAL PARTNERSHIP D/B/A HARRAH'S CASINO HOTEL, ATLANTIC CITY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
DARYL FALLAS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Docket No. L-003428-93.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 19, 2012
Before Judges Fuentes and Harris.
Defendant Daryl Fallas appeals from an order of the Law Division denying his motion to vacate a default judgment that was entered against him on April 21, 1994, in connection with his failure to repay a casino credit that plaintiff Marina Associates d/b/a Harrah's Casino Hotel, Atlantic City had extended to him. Defendant argues that plaintiff failed to effectuate service of process in compliance with Rule 4:6-2(c) and Rule 4:6-2(d), depriving the court of personal jurisdiction over him. We affirm.
In the summer of 1992, plaintiff extended a $7500 line of credit to defendant to gamble at Harrah's Casino. From October 1992 to January 1993, defendant made three $100 payments to plaintiff, reducing his debt to $7200. On August 16, 1993, after repeated requests for payment of the outstanding balance went unanswered, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Law Division seeking judgment against defendant in the amount of $7200.
An affidavit of service signed by Monmouth County Sheriff's Officer Jeffrey Truax attests that on February 5, 1994, Officer Truax served defendant with process by leaving a copy of the summons and complaint with defendant's father "Sam Fallas" at the address provided by defendant in his credit application. On April 21, 1994, the Clerk of the Court entered final judgment by default against defendant and in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $7830, including costs. On April 29, 1994, plaintiff docketed the judgment with the Superior Court.
On April 19, 2010, defendant filed a motion in the Law Division to vacate the judgment. In his "statement of facts" in support of the motion, defendant indicated that the first time he became aware of the judgment was "[o]n or about April 9, 2010 while searching records from Trenton."*fn1 Defendant also questioned the veracity of Officer Truax's statement that he gave a copy of the summons and complaint to his father. According to defendant, because the day indicated by Officer Truax was a Saturday, it is improbable that his father would have accepted process because, as an Orthodox Jew, such an act would have violated his religious principles.
After hearing the arguments of counsel and considering the record before him, Judge William E. Nugent denied defendant's motion to vacate the default judgment. Judge Nugent explained his reasons in a letter opinion, dated May 28, 2010. The court, thereafter, denied defendant's subsequent motions for reconsideration as well as other motions unrelated to the issues raised in this appeal.
Before us, defendant reiterates the arguments that were raised before the Law Division. We are satisfied that none of defendant's arguments have sufficient merit to warrant discussion and affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Nugent in his letter opinion dated May 28, 2010.*fn2