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Stahl v. Township of Montclair

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 17, 2013

WILLIAM STAHL, IRENE GADON STAHL, ROYLAN GADON and JOHN ERIC GADON, by their guardian ad litem, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THE TOWNSHIP OF MONTCLAIR, ALAN TREMBULAK, KENNETH STRAIT, ROBERT MCLOUGHLIN, PATRICK CIANCITTO and EMIGRANT MORTGAGE COMPANY, INC., Defendants-Respondents.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 28, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-251-11.

William Stahl, appellant, argued the cause pro se.

Arnold R. Gerst argued the cause for respondents The Township of Montclair, Alan Trembulak, Kenneth Strait, Robert McLoughlin and Patrick Ciancitto (Weiner Lesniak, LLP, attorneys; Mr. Gerst, of counsel and on the brief).

Richard A. Epstein argued the cause for respondent Emigrant Mortgage Company, Inc.

Before Judges Graves, Espinosa and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiffs William and Irene Stahl filed a complaint in lieu of prerogative writs in which they alleged that defendants had violated N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51. They appeal from an order entered June 10, 2011, that granted summary judgment to defendants Township of Montclair, Alan Trembulak, Kenneth Strait, Robert McLoughlin and Patrick Ciancitto (the Montclair defendants), and from an order entered December 2, 2011, that granted the motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint against defendant Emigrant Mortgage Company, Inc. (Emigrant). We affirm.

This appeal arises from the fourth action concerning property owned by plaintiffs in Montclair that is the subject of a mortgage granted by Emigrant.[1] The first action was a foreclosure action filed by Emigrant against plaintiffs in January 2008. That action remains pending.

On August 29, 2008, Robert McLoughlin, the Construction Official for Montclair, served plaintiffs with a Notice of Unsafe Structure and a Notice of Imminent Hazard. The Notice of Imminent Hazard ordered plaintiffs to vacate their home and "[i]mmediately correct the . . . imminent hazards so as to render the structure temporarily safe and secure."

In October 2008, plaintiffs initiated the second action by filing a complaint against the Montclair defendants in which they sought a judgment ordering the Montclair defendants to rescind the order to vacate. Plaintiffs later filed a motion to enforce litigant's rights. By order dated April 1, 2009, the court denied plaintiffs' motion and ordered them to retain an architect, submit construction plans to the Township and obtain building permits, and complete all work in accordance with the permits.

On July 14, 2009, plaintiffs and the Montclair defendants appeared before the court and negotiated a consent order. Pursuant to the consent order, plaintiffs were permitted to "immediately resume occupancy of the dwelling[, ]" but were required to "complete all construction work" approved by the Township and to obtain and submit to the Township Certificates of Approval and Certificates of Occupancy for this work on or before August 14, 2009. The order stated that if plaintiffs failed to meet that deadline, they would be required to vacate the property by August 17, 2009, and refrain from resuming occupancy until the certificates were obtained. The order further stated that it should "not in any way be construed as a release of any claims or an admission by any party of any improper conduct or violation of any law or legal obligation."

Plaintiffs initiated a third action in July 2009, Docket No. L-7034-09, seeking damages from the Montclair defendants as a result of their ordered removal from the family residence. The consent order that was negotiated in July 2009 was entered on August 28, 2009. Pursuant to the April 1, 2009 order and the consent order, plaintiffs remedied the code violations at their own expense. On December 4, 2009, the court dismissed plaintiffs' complaint in the ...


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