NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued March 11, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Warren County, Indictment No. 06-03-00119.
John S. Furlong argued the cause for appellant (Furlong & Krasny, attorneys; Mr. Furlong, of counsel; Andrew Mark Ferencevych, on the briefs).
Joseph J. Bell, IV, argued the cause for respondent (The Bell Law Group, P.C., attorneys; Mr. Bell, on the brief).
Before Judges Espinosa and Guadagno.
Defendant Lexington National Insurance Company (Lexington) appeals from an order that denied its motion to vacate a default judgment and bail forfeiture. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.
On November 20, 2005, Lexington posted a $100, 000 bond with the Superior Court in Warren County on behalf of Derrick Gilliam. After bail was posted, Lexington monitored Gilliam to ensure that he would appear at all of his scheduled court appearances. Nevertheless, Gilliam failed to appear in court on May 4, 2006. The trial court forfeited Gilliam's bail and issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Eight days later, on May 12, 2006, Gilliam appeared in court. The trial court reinstated bail and vacated the warrant. Lexington received notice that the bail had been forfeited but was not informed that bail had been reinstated.
On September 6, 2006, Gilliam was arrested in Pennsylvania. Warren County authorities were notified of the arrest and filed a detainer against Gilliam. Because he remained incarcerated in Pennsylvania, Gilliam failed to appear in Warren County for a scheduled hearing. Apparently unaware that a detainer had been filed against Gilliam, the court again forfeited Gilliam's bail and issued a warrant for his arrest. Lexington was never notified of this second forfeiture of bail.
Gilliam pled guilty in Pennsylvania in December 2007, was sentenced to a term of fifteen to thirty months, and paroled in June 2008. However, Gilliam remained incarcerated as a result of the detainer. Gilliam wrote a letter to the judge in Warren County, dated June 24, 2008, asking that the detainer be lifted, bail be reinstated and his hearing be re-scheduled. Lexington never received notice of this communication.
Gilliam was transported to Warren County in August 2008. The court vacated the warrant and reinstated his bail without any notice to Lexington. Two years later, Gilliam failed to appear in court for sentencing on August 19, 2010. The court again forfeited his bail.
The court sent a Notice of Bail Forfeiture for Surety, dated August 23, 2010, to Lexington. It is not disputed that Lexington received this notice and not contended that the notice failed to advise "that judgment will be entered as to any outstanding bail absent a written objection seeking to set aside the forfeiture, which must be filed within 75 days of the date of the notice." R. 3:26-6(a).
Lexington did not file a written objection seeking to set aside the forfeiture within the seventy-five-day period. Instead, it initiated an investigation, retaining the services of ...