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Grunfeld v. Seltzer

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 27, 2013

JOSEPH GRUNFELD and MAJESTIC COMPANY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
RICHARD SELTZER, ESQ., Defendant-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued January 8, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. L-3092-10.

Giovanni De Pierro argued the cause for appellants (Ambrosio, De Pierro & Wernick, attorneys; Mr. De Pierro and Alberico De Pierro, on the brief).

Bradley M. Wilson argued the cause for respondent (Nowell Amoroso Klein Bierman, attorneys; Mr. Wilson, on the brief).

Before Judges Ostrer and Kennedy.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiffs appeal from an order of the Law Division denying reconsideration of an earlier order dismissing their complaint with prejudice and denying their cross-motion to reinstate their complaint. They argue that the court's order denying reconsideration is "erroneous based on legal precedent [and] is also predicated on erroneous factual grounds."[1] Having considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

I.

On June 7, 2010, plaintiffs Joseph Grunfeld and Majestic Company (Majestic), a business entity located in Jersey City that was formed by Grunfeld's ex-wife and son-in-law, filed a complaint alleging legal malpractice claims against defendant. The complaint alleged that Majestic had been formed as a vehicle to invest in real estate and that in the course of Majestic's business, Grunfeld and others had "signed promissory notes with several lenders[.]" The lenders later sued "plaintiffs" on the notes and plaintiffs hired defendant as their attorney.

Plaintiffs alleged that defendant propounded no discovery on their behalf and failed to oppose a summary judgment motion which resulted in a judgment against plaintiffs in the amount of $2, 446, 464.03. Plaintiffs asserted they were damaged as a consequence of defendant's legal malpractice.

Defendant answered the complaint and averred he had never received notice of the motion for summary judgment. He also alleged he had moved to vacate summary judgment, but the motion was denied. He asserted that Grunfeld was aware of judgment and the steps defendant took to address the problem, but nonetheless "decided not to file an appeal." He also asserted a third-party complaint seeking various forms of relief against Grunfeld's ex-wife and son-in-law, as well as against the lenders and their attorney.

On December 1, 2010, the civil presiding judge entered an initial case management order that, among other things, required plaintiff to provide responses to defendant's "initial document/interrogatory requests within 30 days" and the parties to exchange "all additional paper discovery" within 90 days. Plaintiff's final expert report was due within 200 days. The discovery end date was December 3, 2011.

Defendant apparently[2] filed a motion to compel plaintiffs to provide discovery that was heard on the record on February 18, 2011. At that time, defendant advised the court that he had agreed initially to adjourn the motion based upon a representation by plaintiffs' counsel that he would provide "more responsive" discovery answers. Plaintiffs' counsel responded that his clients provided discovery responses to "the best of [Grunfeld's] capability" and that most of the documents pertaining to the claim are not in "plaintiffs' possession" and are "nowhere here in this State." Counsel ...


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