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Rodgers v. Wallie

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

September 3, 2013

JONATHAN RODGERS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DEBRA WALLIE, Defendant-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 28, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Hudson County, Docket No. LT-8057-12.

James R. Lisa, attorney for appellant.

Respondent has not filed a brief.

Before Judges Waugh and Haas.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiff Jonathan Rodgers appeals the order of the Law Division, Special Civil Part vacating the default judgment and warrant of removal concerning the commercial property in Jersey City leased by Rodgers to defendant Debra Wallie. We affirm.

Rodgers filed a landlord-tenant action based on non-payment of rent on June 1, 2012. A default judgment was entered and a warrant of removal was issued on July 5, after Wallie failed to appear. The premises were padlocked on July 9. Later that day, Wallie applied for post-judgment relief, but her application was denied. On July 12, Wallie again applied for post-judgment relief, and an order was entered staying the warrant of removal until July 16.

Wallie applied for further relief on July 16, at which time she was represented by counsel. Rodgers participated in the application by telephone and in person. The judge vacated the default judgment and the warrant of removal. This appeal followed.[1]

Rodgers argues on appeal that the motion judge erred in vacating the default and warrant of removal. Having reviewed this argument in light of the record before us, we find it to be without merit and not warranting extended discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We add only the following.

A trial judge's decision to grant or deny an application to vacate a default judgment is accorded substantial deference and will not be disturbed absent a "clear abuse of discretion." US Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Guillaume, 209 N.J. 449, 467 (2012); Hous. Auth. of Morristown v. Little, 135 N.J. 274, 283 (1994). Here, the judge determined that Wallie did not have sufficient notice of the hearing and that she was able to pay the overdue rent. We find no "clear abuse" of his discretion in granting relief to Wallie. The judge was not required to accept Rodgers' assertion that it was Wallie who told him the date of the initial hearing, as to which Rodgers asserted he himself had not received notice.

Affirmed.


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